04/03/2024

Ebony Antonio made her long-awaited return from a PCL tear to guide the Dockers to a win over Sydney (Image: Fremantle Dockers AFLW Twitter)

Ebony Antonio’s long-awaited return was instrumental in guiding Fremantle to a 14-point win over the Swans at Henson Park. The hard-running winger has been side-lined through the first eight rounds due to a PCL tear she suffered in their pre-season match.

Starting her 50th game in style, Antonio launched a sensational bomb from an impossible angle to snag Fremantle’s first goal of the game. Her trademark running was a key factor in the Docker’s ability to overcome the Swans late in the match.

She was well assisted by skipper Hayley Miller who collected an equal-record 14 disposals in the first term. Miller finished with 27 disposals and eight clearances, as well as a handy snap from the boundary.

Veteran Kiara Bowers helped herself to a career-high 20 tackles to go with her 19 disposals as she continued to provide unrivalled pressure in the engine room each week. The Dockers’ midfield simply overpowered the Swans who looked good early but ran out of steam.

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Fremantle Coach Trent Cooper was overjoyed with Antonio’s return, adamant that the girls stand taller when she’s in the side.

“She just gives the group so much confidence,” Cooper said.

“She’s a high-impact player and whenever she’s on the field you’ve got a chance of winning the game.

“She can just do things that no one else in the league can do. When we watched her highlight video on Thursday night it was a big reminder, we forgot what we were missing.

“We’re really glad she was able to get back out there this season, so she has that drive continue through the off-season.”

He’s been proud of the season his side has put together, despite the lengthy injury list he says the progression has been validating.

“Since round two I think we’ve improved every week, our last month has been some of our best apart from last week,” he said.

“To get the win gives them the validation they’ve deserved for their hard work.

“The effort the girls have put in this season hasn’t been a question. They always buy-in, especially defensively, and I think you saw the product of that today.”

The Dockers have a chance to finish the season with consecutive wins when they host the Hawks at Fremantle oval on Saturday while the Swans make the treacherous trip to GMHBA stadium to close out their inaugural season against a formidable Geelong side.

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