21/04/2024

North Melbourne ended Fremantle's undefeated streak at North Hobart Oval. (Picture: Fremantle FC)

Fremantle have been valiant road warriors all year, but it couldn't keep its undefeated run going against North Melbourne at fortress Tasmania, where the Roos are still yet to lose.

The Dockers have been valiant road warriors all year, but they couldn’t keep their undefeated run going against North Melbourne at fortress Tasmania.

While the game remained close throughout, the Roos were in control for the majority of the match and walked out of North Hobart Oval as deserved 10-point winners. The Roos are still yet to lose a game in the Apple Isle.

It achieved two things that no other side has accomplished this season, stifling Fremantle’s explosive midfield and forward line, while forcing its backline into uncharacteristic errors.

One advantage the Roos had throughout the game was their height on all lines.

Kim Rennie and Emma King dominated in the ruck during the first half, with Fremantle also struggling to find an answer for King when she went up forward or behind the ball.

It was also fitting that in the defining play of the game, it was King who took a strong mark on the wing late in the final quarter, before a 50 penalty brought her within scoring range.

From there she sent the ball to the top of the goal square, where Tahlia Randall clunked it and made no mistake to seal the match.

“The introduction of Kim Rennie into our squad has allowed us to have a bit of flexibility, she’s a real competitor and has given us some great contests,” North Melbourne coach Darren Crocker said post-match on the performance of his key position players.

“We’ve obviously swung Tahlia Randall forward as well. Tahls is learning a new role, but you can see when she launches at the ball how dangerous she can look.

“Emma King continues to grow her game as well, I thought for two weeks in a row now she’s been a great presence down the line for us.”

In contrast, the Dockers struggled to exit their defensive 50, due to a combination of the Roos’ unrelenting pressure and size behind the ball.

At one point during the second term, North Melbourne led the inside 50s nine to zero for that quarter, despite Fremantle ultimately winning the inside 50 battle at the end of the game.

But any time the Dockers made a kickout, it was often intercepted and quickly sent back towards goal.

“That was on our forwards, our forwards really got out of shape,” Fremantle coach Trent Cooper said on his team’s troubles exiting defensive 50.

“We knew that North set up well behind the ball and our forwards got desperate and way too high.

“That definitely wasn’t the way we wanted to play, that’s probably a bit of mental fatigue after going through what we’ve gone through the last few weeks.”

More AFLW News

‘I wasn’t really quite finished yet’: SANFLW return all about balance for Kaslar

Pearce delights as Demons power through persistent Suns

AFLW five years on: Carlton vs. Collingwood

Sunday’s contest also marked a return to form for Jasmine Garner, who led all comers with 29 disposals.

Crocker said the strength of his team’s midfield is its depth, which allows different players to step up each week.

“Hopefully we can continue to get someone that gets off the leash,” he said.

“Today it was Jasmine’s turn, she had a really strong game and it was really pleasing for her to get back to some of her best footy.

“But I think the strength of our midfield is as a unit, not just any particular individual.”

Unfortunately for the Dockers their superstar, the co-reigning MVP Kiara Bowers, was watching from the sidelines after being handed a two-match suspension during the week.

Hayley Miller and Gabby O’Sullivan continued to step up in her absence, but Cooper admitted that having “just that extra good player makes a difference”.

While Fremantle’s undefeated run this season came to an end, North Melbourne managed to keep a winning streak of its own going.

The Kangaroos have never lost in Tasmania, with Crocker calling the state the team’s “home away from home”.

“We’ve got a really good record down here. I don’t think any games more important than another game, but maybe there’s some internal motivation amongst the players to make sure we keep our record intact,” he said.

Fremantle will get to experience a homecoming of its own with the team flying back to Western Australia, but the club remains in limbo on what training and playing games will look like.

“I know the plan’s to get on a plane,” Cooper said.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t find accommodation together, so we’re spread out all over the state once we get home.”

Cooper said while spending so much time on the road may have looked easy given the team’s success, it has been mentally difficult.

“Every game they’ve managed to put that aside and perform, so I couldn’t be prouder of them,” he said.

“If you’d said we’d be over here in these circumstances and win four out of five, we would have taken that every day of the week.”

Subscribe to our newsletter!

About Author

Leave a Reply