The Fremantle Dockers and GWS Giants have brought up the first draw of the AFL Women’s competition, with both teams battling until the final siren in an incredible outing.
Both sides came into the match 0-2 records, meaning that a loss would essentially rule out any chance of making the Grand Final.
The humidity, breeze and heat at Blacktown International Sportspark didn’t provide the best conditions for playing footy, but both teams came out with plenty of determination and battled hard with plenty at stake.
A strong wind aided Fremantle in the first term, but the Dockers couldn’t take full advantage of their forward dominance.
Though debutante Kira Phillips managed to hit the scoreboard from a set shot, a number of misses and wayward forward entries only allowed the Dockers to take a nine-point lead at quarter time.
Jess Dal Pos continued her great string of form out of defence, ably supported by Mai Nguyen and Britt Tully who did their best to counter through the middle of the ground.
The teams proceeded to trade goals in the second quarter, beginning with a defensive lapse that allowed Nicola Barr to pop the ball over the top to an unmarked Ellie Brush who kicked the Giants’ first.
But a moment of class from Ashley Sharp quickly cancelled the goal out, as she gathered the ball in front of her and snapped around her body against the wind.
Another mental lapse threatened to damage Fremantle, however, as Akec Makur Chuot didn’t give the ball back to Nguyen after a free kick and gifted her a goal from the top of the goal square after the 50m penalty.
Again Fremantle responded, with Gabby O’Sullivan coming into the game in the second term and having her biggest impact by handballing off to captain Kara Donnellan, who strolled in for a major.
Once again when it looked like Fremantle was poised to pull away, the Giants battled back in the second half with goals to Jacinda Barclay and Phoebe McWilliams, the latter who looked to be out of the game with a knee injury early in the game.
The game turned in Fremantle’s favour, but the intercept marking of Renee Tomkins continued to stunt the Dockers’ forward thrusts.
Finally the Dockers took advantage of the wind and regained the lead when Ebony Antonio, who came into the game through the middle of the ground, bombed long to Stacey Barr for a major from close range.
Antonio was involved again as a ground ball fell into the lap of Sharp at the top of the goal square, making kicking her second a simple task.
But yet again, another defensive lapse opened the door for GWS and Stephanie Walker was gifted a goal following a 50m penalty.
The lead changed hands early in the final term when Phoebe McWilliams converted from distance and on a tight angle, but smart play for Sharp saw her protect her drop zone and stroll in for her third goal of the day.
The Giants were not to be denied, however, as Aimee Schmidt marked under pressure and coolly converted a set shot to lock the scores up with under three minutes remaining.
Despite forward efforts from both teams in the dying embers, neither side could register the go-ahead score.
Kara Donnellan and Lara Filocamo were fantastic for Fremantle in the second half, but the efforts of Emma Swanson and Britt Tully to control the ball in the centre of the ground went a long way to keeping GWS in touch.
Renee Tomkins was nothing short of stunning in defence for the Giants, keeping her side close despite having five less scoring shots, and Erin McKinnon dominated the hit-outs to finish with 32.
What the draw means for both sides is yet to be determined, with the value of two premiership points decided by results of other matches in the remainder of the season.
Our thoughts go out to Fremantle’s Tiah Haynes who dislocated her left shoulder in the third term. This comes after two knee reconstructions in the midfielder’s career.
GWS: 0.0, 2.0, 5.0, 7.1 (43)
Fremantle: 1.3, 3.5, 5.5, 6.7 (43)
GWS: Phoebe McWilliams 2, Ellie Brush, Mai Nguyen, Jacinda Barclay, Stephanie Walker, Aimee Schmidt
Fremantle: Ashley Sharp 3, Kira Phillips, Kara Donnellan, Stacey Barr
GWS: Emma Swanson (16), Britt Tully (16), Jess Dal Pos (13)
Fremantle: Lara Filocamo (19), Kara Donnellan (16), Kirby Bentley (15)