Fremantle has made an RAC Derby statement and put the competition back on notice, rediscovering its attacking firepower in a thumping 67-point win against West Coast on Sunday.
After their 11-game winning streak was ended by Brisbane last week, the Freo Dockers rebounded to kick the second highest score in their history and hold the Eagles to their lowest this season, winning 11.9 (75) to 1.2 (8).
It was the biggest win of the three AFLW Derbies, eclipsing the Dockers' 45-point win in the first clash between the cross-town rivals in 2020 and their nine-point win earlier this season in the wet.
Superstar forward Gemma Houghton was the star, booting five goals and shooting to equal top of the AFLW leaderboard with 11 for the season, equal with Adelaide champion Erin Phillips and Collingwood star Erin Molloy.
Fremantle's forward line was electric, with young gun Roxy Roux (two) and small forward Sabreena Duffy (three) also cashing in.
Midfielder Kiara Bowers led a midfield that dominated clearances (29-17), winning 24 possessions (18 contested) and nine clearances. She was named the AFLW Derby medallist with seven votes from Houghton (six).
Forward Gabby O'Sullivan was also excellent for the Dockers, pushing up the ground and finishing with 10 marks and a goal, while Ebony Antonio (23 disposals) was prolific early.
The Eagles started and ended the game well, keeping the Dockers to just one goal in the final term. They would have been encouraged by the performances of young pair Bella Lewis (17 disposals) and Mikayla Bowen (15).
They were blown away either side of half time, however, conceding six unanswered goals as the margin blew out to 52 points.
Sliding doors moment
Fremantle led by seven points on the eve of quarter-time when Sabreena Duffy marked in the centre square and turned when Eagle Hayley Bullas ran into the protected zone, giving away a 50m penalty and a certain goal as the siren sounded. The Eagles had been impressive early and competitive without taking their opportunities, but they went into the first break two goals behind and then conceded three more in the first 10 minutes of the second term. The game got away from them quickly, overshadowing the good work of the first quarter.
Did you see that…
Freo's fourth goal encapsulated everything they are about. It started with a committed tackle from brilliant midfielder Kiara Bowers, who caught young Eagle Bella Lewis holding the ball. Bowers quickly played on and hit Gemma Houghton on the lead, with the gun forward turning her opponent inside out and kicking her second goal on the run. Accountable defensively, quick movement inside 50, and electric in front of goals. It was just one of several highlights a big afternoon for Fremantle.
Work in progress
The Eagles' have work to do on their method going inside 50 and forward line personnel. Too often on Sunday they found their forwards had pushed right up the ground defensively and there was no one home when the ball was turned over, leading to easy intercepts for the Freo defenders. The Eagles didn't take a mark inside 50 and tried to get out the back and use their speed to generate opportunities. When it was working early, they got into scoring positions before making the wrong decision and putting teammates under pressure. Their sole goal came in the third quarter when speedster Grace Kelly got free out the back.
Fremantle has a seven-day break and will travel to Ikon Park to face Carlton at 1.10pm AEDT next Sunday. West Coast stay at home to host Geelong at 2.10pm AWST on Sunday at Mineral Resources Park.
FREMANTLE 2.2 5.5 10.6 11.9 (75)
WEST COAST 0.1 0.1 1.1 1.2 (8)
Fremantle: Houghton 5, Duffy 3, Roux 2, O'Sullivan
West Coast: G Kelly
Fremantle: Houghton, Bowers, O'Sullivan, E Antonio, Duffy, Miller, Roux
West Coast: McCarthy, N Kelly, Lewis, Bowen, G Kelly, Guard
West Coast: Nil