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Fremantle survive Tigers surge, move into AFLW top eight

Fremantle Dockers have withstood a stirring Richmond challenge to put themselves back in the AFLW top eight.

Without star midfielder Kiara Bowers, the Dockers persevered and kick-started a double-header at Princes Park with a 5.7 (37) to 4.6 (30) triumph to steal Richmond’s spot in the top eight.

“It was extremely frustrating,” Richmond coach Ryan Ferguson said.

“They’re hurting because they know we just didn’t put our best foot forward today.

“We’re more than capable … I just don’t think we prepared the way we needed to.”

Having lost Bowers to a knee injury during the week, Irish sensation Aine Tighe stepped up to kick one goal and rack up 19 disposals, along with Hayley Miller (one, 17).

In almost 30C, the Dockers opened their account with a string of unanswered goals to Miller, Tighe and Gabby O’Sullivan.

Dogged by wayward kicking, the Tigers were unable to find a reply and finished with one behind to the visitors’ 3.0 (18) at quarter-time.

The yips passed on to the Dockers in the second term, with O’Sullivan hitting the post twice from in front of goal.

A high ball from Miller dribbling towards the posts and soccered through by Makaela Tuhakaraina finally gave the Dockers another six points.

Thanks to a monster effort by Monique Conti (29 disposals, nine clearances) and Kate Dempsey (24, three), Beth Lynch gave Richmond the goal they desperately needed on the stroke of half-time.

Trailing by 21 points, the Tigers stormed into the second half with two inside 50s to Caitlin Gresier within the opening two minutes but she was wasteful with inaccurate kicking.

With a snap across the body 30m out, Tuhakaraina snatched her second major to cut the hosts down to size and give Fremantle their highest score of the season at 36 points.

But two majors by captain Katie Brennan and Courtney Jones in the span of a minute kept the Tigers in the contest.

With the Dockers under siege in the final term, Gresier finally kicked her first major of the game to bring the Tigers to within seven points.

In the end, it was Fremantle’s pressure that held up in the final five minutes to keep the Tigers at bay.

“We got back to the way we want to play footy,” Fremantle coach Lisa Webb said.

“We were disappointed with our performance (against Essendon) and we had a lot of fight and a lot of grit out there today.”

Fremantle (3-2) travel home to prepare for a battle against North Melbourne next weekend.

Richmond (3-2) will be without gun midfielder Sarah Hosking (hamstring) when they return to Princes Park next round to host Gold Coast.


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Author: Russell White