Fremantle extended its winning run to 11 games and further enhanced its premiership credentials on Saturday with a 49-point win against Gold Coast at Fremantle Oval.
Fremantle weren't at their clinical best for periods and overcame a slow start before delivering the knockout blow in a physical third quarter to win 7.13 (55) to 1.0 (6).
Star midfielder Kiara Bowers was supreme again as she stakes her claim as the League's best player this season, winning 17 possessions (eight contested) and laying a massive 15 tackles.
She inspired a run of seven unanswered goals after quarter-time after the Freo went scoreless in the opening term and conceded the early lead to last year's semi-final opponents.
Outstanding defender Janelle Cuthbertson led a rock-solid defence, intercepting and rebounding with 12 disposals, while Hayley Miller (five clearances and a goal) was excellent in the centre square.
The backline didn't blink after the first break and held the Suns scoreless for three quarters, with Freo’s team defence keeping the visitors to 13 inside 50s for the match.
After one of the club's best wins in its history against 2019 premiers Adelaide last week, Fremantle appeared drained before finding their groove after quarter-time with a more physical approach.
Their win came despite leading forwards Gemma Houghton and Sabreena Duffy going goalless, with Gabby O'Sullivan booting two to continue an eye-catching season.
Suns midfielder Jamie Stanton fought hard with 17 disposals and seven clearances, while Lauren Bella won the ruck battle with 25 hitouts, but the Suns were overwhelmed after their early resistance.
Roux on the board
Exciting forward/ruck Roxy Roux had gone four games without a goal this season, and she chose a brilliant way to end the drought on Saturday. In the right place when the Suns kicked the ball out on the full in the second quarter, Roux stepped up to take the free kick, hard up on the boundary in the pocket. She used a checkside kick to curl the footy through skillfully with a Goal of the Year contender.
Conversion has traditionally been a strength for Fremantle, but on Saturday it deserted them, kicking 1.5 in the second quarter alone and missing the target altogether with other shots. In one thrilling piece of play, Kiara Bowers, Stephanie Cain and Gabby O'Sullivan carved through Gold Coast with a series of piercing kicks before Gemma Houghton missed the set shot. The second half was better, but the game could have been put away much earlier with accurate kicking.
The Suns were set up well behind the ball in the first half and were probably focused on saving goals rather than kicking them for a long time. Still, it takes a concerted effort to keep the attacking Freo Dockers scoreless for a quarter, as Adelaide managed last week, and that was an early win for the Suns. They went scoreless themselves for the next three quarters, however, which made competing impossible.
"They made it very hard for us early. I felt our backs were great all day, our mids were really good for three-and-a-half quarters, and our forwards were disappointing for the first half. Once they came to the party things started to happen. " – Fremantle coach Trent Cooper
"They were lazy … you get back and you work and then you work back the other way, and that's the way you're meant to prepare yourself. That's a mindset that's hard. It's not local footy, so if you're not prepared at that level you're going to find it difficult to play. There were some really crystal-clear lessons in that for the players who want to play at the level I felt." – Gold Coast coach David Lake
FREMANTLE 0.0 1.5 4.7 7.13 (55)
GOLD COAST 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 (6)
Fremantle: O'Sullivan 2, Roux, Miller, Sharp, E Antonio, Verrier
Gold Coast: Kaslar
Fremantle: Bowers, Cuthbertson, O'Sullivan, Miller, Roux, Stewart
Gold Coast: Stanton, Bella, Single, Surman, Howarth
Gold Coast: Drennan (ankle)
Crowd: 2,410 at Fremantle Oval