DESPITE being on the wrong end of a classic, Melbourne AFLW coach Mick Stinear can still appreciate the significance of Fremantle’s stirring four-point win over the Demons.
“It’s fair to say women’s footy has gone up a level,” Stinear declared after Sunday afternoon’s match at Casey Fields.
In a seesawing encounter, the Dockers squandered a 20-point halftime lead, only to fight back from 14 points down at three-quarter time to claim victory 9.5 (59) to 8.7 (55). The shootout produced 114 points – two shy of the AFLW record (116).
“We came here to win but I think it was a terrific game of footy and credit to Freo for the way they played for four quarters and to both teams to be able to play in these (39-degree) conditions and play such a good brand of footy,” Stinear said.
“Really pleased with our group, obviously disappointed we didn’t play our best footy for long enough but … we’ll take a lot out of the game today.
“Both teams wanted to play an attacking brand and we saw some high scoring and some opportunities for genuine one-on-ones in space.
“Fifty-five points previously might have won us games, but the comp’s gone up another level so we’re going to have to dig a little bit deeper and find a few more goals. It was exciting for footy.”
Trent Cooper, who made a successful debut as Fremantle coach, agreed and believed Sunday’s match was the benchmark that women’s footy should aspire to from now on.
“It’s going to happen for sure. As the skills get better, the girls train for more – we’ll see more results like that,” he said.
“It was free flowing … and the forwards probably at both ends got on top at different stages.
“I’m not sure it was enjoyable to coach like that when the fluctuations are so vivid, but it’s a good brand of football and that’s what we want to do this year and, hopefully, we kick more than the opposition.”
Fremantle’s reigning club best-and-fairest Ebony Antonio, who was one of her side’s best players, agreed that the quality of women’s footy would only increase.
“It was pretty remarkable to get a score like that, it was a good contest all day and I think, with scoring like that, hopefully, the AFLW future is pretty bright,” she said.
Stinear admitted that in such oppressive conditions, losing Shae Sloane to a knee injury in the second quarter and being down a rotation for most of the game didn’t help his team’s cause.
Sloane, the sister of Adelaide co-captain Rory Sloane, will have scans on Monday but Stinear said the club was hopeful it was only a minor injury.
© AAP 2019
FREMANTLE 3.1 6.4 6.4 9.5 (59)
MELBOURNE 2.2 3.2 8.6 8.7 (55)
Goals: Fremantle Dockers: A Sharp 2 G Houghton 2 E Antonio K Bowers M Caulfield S Cain S Duffy. Melbourne Demons: E Zanker 2 A Newman B Jakobsson K Hore M Gay S Scott T Cunningham.
Umpires: Courtney Gibson, Giles Lewis, Trent McPhee.
Official Crowd: 1,800 at Casey Fields.