Star Fremantle midfielder Kiara Bowers has produced a scintillating display in the wet to lift her side to a gritty nine-point AFLW win over cross-town rivals West Coast.
In a match played in driving rain at Fremantle Oval, the Eagles closed the margin to six points early in the final quarter after forward Imahra Cameron booted a goal.
But the Dockers held their nerve, keeping the ball trapped in their forward half to secure the 2.11 (23) to 2.2 (14) win on Sunday.
Bowers finished with 22 disposals, 14 tackles, seven clearances, and a goal to win the western derby medal as best afield, while fellow midfielder Hayley Miller (14 disposals and five clearances) was also important.
“In these conditions, we knew she would get the 14 tackles,” Fremantle coach Trent Cooper said of Bowers.
“What we’re rapt with now is that she’s actually getting a bit more ball on the outside. I think she had 400 metres gained, which today is probably worth 1000 metres in the dry.
“It’s an amazing effort to do that. She was clearly the best player on the ground. She drags her teammates along with her.”
Mikayla Bowen (18 disposals) and Belinda Smith (17) were West Coast’s best, while captain Emma Swanson (16 disposals, three clearances) battled hard in an injury-hit midfield.
West Coast suffered a huge blow in the lead-up to the game when star midfielder Dana Hooker was ruled out for the rest of the season due to a freak domestic accident.
Hooker underwent surgery on a right foot laceration after a knife fell from a kitchen bench.
The Eagles suffered three other injury blows during Sunday’s match.
Niamh Kelly suffered a possible fractured finger on the stroke of halftime, ruck Parris Laurie injured her leg in the third quarter, and Andrea Gilmore split the webbing on her hand.
The Eagles have been ravaged by injuries this year, and coach Daniel Pratt was fearful others would suffer the same fate after only recently just returning.
“We were down to two rotations in the last quarter for the second week in a row,” Pratt said.
“We had to manage their minutes … I wasn’t concerned about winning in the end, I was just more worried about making sure these girls could play next week.”
Fremantle crushed West Coast by 45 points in front of 35,185 fans in the first AFLW western derby last year, and Hooker’s absence meant the Dockers entered the rematch the hottest of favourites.
But it was the Eagles who got the early jump, with Aisling McCarthy booting the only goal of the first quarter to give the Eagles a 7-3 edge.
Gemma Houghton’s spectacular no-look snap goal in the second term sparked Fremantle in the gear, and the Dockers controlled the match from that point.