14/04/2024

The Dockers were so close, yet so far from AFLW glory (Photo: Fremantle/ Graphic: Will Cuckson)

It was a season that promised plenty for Dockers supporters but ended in yet more disappointment.

It was a season that promised plenty for Dockers supporters but ended in yet more disappointment.

Finishing Position: 5th (Seven wins, Three losses)

What worked?

Fremantle brought heaps of pressure week in and week out, especially in their forward half, and most of the time it paid off for them.

They had the most tackles in season 2022 (854, 71.2 average) whilst they never lost the tackle count in a game this year.

They also averaged 12.7 tackles inside 50 per game. 86 of those tackles inside 50 came at the start of the season, including 41 in two weeks against eventual finalists North Melbourne and Collingwood.

Their spread of goalkickers was also lethal. Their equal top goalscorers in Ebony Antonio and captain Hayley Miller had 10 each and they had five players who kicked five or more goals this past season.

In the qualifying final alone against the Kangaroos the Dockers had 10 individual goalkickers from their 11 goals kicked, the highest in an AFLW match

What didn’t?

There wasn’t a whole lot that went wrong for Freo in 2022. However their performances against eventual finalists were a bit iffy.

They played top six sides six times last season. And despite being close to winning in most of those contests, they only won twice against those teams in the regular season plus finals (Collingwood at Victoria Park and North Melbourne at Arden Street).

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Who impressed?

In her first season as captain Hayley Miller stole the show and earned plenty of plaudits, including selection in the All-Australian side at Half-Forward and as vice-captain.

During the season she averaged 18.7 disposals, 10.3 contested possessions, 6.1 tackles, 3.6 clearances, 371 metres gained (2nd best in competition), 3.3 marks, four inside 50’s (both equal team-highs) and 3.8 score involvements per game.

Despite missing some action this year, 2021 AFLW Best and Fairest Kiara Bowers continued to prove why she’s one of the premier midfielders of the AFLW.

In eight games this year she averaged team-high’s in disposals (22), the most tackles and clearances in the AFLW per game (11.5 tackles, 6.8 clearances), contested possessions (13), inside 50’s (four, equal team-high), kicks (17) plus 3.5 score involvements and 2.6 marks per game.

Gabby O’Sullivan also stepped up her game in a new role in midfield. She averaged 15.6 disposals, 8.9 contested possessions, 3.3 clearances, 6.8 tackles, 2.7 score involvements plus kicked two goals

And excitement machine Ebony Antonio also excelled in a new role, this time up forward. Whilst finishing with 10 goals she still averaged 13.5 disposals, a team high 3.9 score involvements, and went at 65.1 per cent disposal efficiency.

Highs and lows

The Dockers couldn’t have scripted a much better start to the 2022 season, winning their first five matches by an average of 25.4 points.

Four of those wins came in Melbourne due to WA border restrictions, including a very impressive 31 point win against Collingwood where they kept them to their lowest ever AFLW score.

However they ended the H&A season in not-so-good fashion, losing three of their last five matches. This included two losses at home and one at the Kangaroos Hobart fortress.

Their biggest loss in those last few games included an 88-point shellacking by eventual runners-up Melbourne at Optus Stadium. The Demons that evening became the first AFLW side to break the 100-point barrier.

Who’s on the move?

It’s been a quiet offseason so far at Fremantle Oval, with no one rumoured to come into the club as well as leaving the club too. One player that could potentially be elevated to the senior list is Aine Tighe.

The Irishwoman had a breakthrough 2022, playing all 12 games, taking a team-high seven contested mark, kicking three goals and averaging 9.9 disposals, 3.3 marks (equal team-high), 4.5 intercept possessions and 2.3 tackles per game.

The Dockers recently announced that Ann McMahon & inaugural player Tiah Toth would not be offered contracts in 2022 whilst midfielder Jasmin Stewart would take some time away from footy.

What’s next?

If all goes according to plan for the Dockers this offseason, particularly on the trade front, they’ll once more be looking to challenge for finals and even a premiership in the next season.

It’s a side filled with plenty of experience through Miller, Bowers, O’Sullivan, Ebony and Kara Antonio, Stephanie Cain and Gemma Houghton plus plenty of future stars such as Dana East, Mikayla Morrison, Mim Strom & Airlie Runnalls.

Like all clubs they might potentially look at bringing in reinforcements and lose a few, but otherwise, if the squad stays the same, the iron is hot for the Dockers and the time to strike is now.

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