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Freo’s finals hopes alive with upset win; Saints hold on as Swans fall short: AFLW Wrap

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Fremantle have kept in touch with the AFLW top eight after staving off a fast-finishing Richmond and hanging on for a thrilling upset seven-point victory at Ikon Park on Friday.

The Dockers headed into the match as underdogs without injured star duo Kiara Bowers (knee) and Ebony Antonio (knee), but they defied the odds to run out 5.7 (37) to 4.6 (30) winners.

By the time Makaela Tuhakaraina kicked her second goal, a magnificent snap shot on the run from 30m out, the Dockers were back up by 26 points early in the third period.

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But just as Freo looked to be cruising to victory, Richmond roared to life, booting the last three goals of the game to get back within seven points.

The Tigers’ tackling pressure rose significantly and they sharpened up their ball use against the waning Dockers.

Richmond had all the momentum in the final quarter, but they were their own worst enemy in front of goal. Mon Conti missed a snap shot from 20m out on the run, and shortly after, Caitlin Greiser’s soccer attempt from the goalsquare went the wrong side of the goalpost.

With seven minutes remaining, Courtney Jones had the chance to get Richmond within two points, but her set shot from just 15m out went across the face of goal.

Poppy Kelly dropped a sitter on the halfback line in the dying stages and from the ensuing turnover, Tuhakaraina marked 40m out from goal, allowing her to chew up valuable time when the Tigers should’ve been pushing forward again.

Richmond had one last roll of the dice with 1:13 remaining, but Gabby Seymour’s deep kick into the forward line was marked by Fremantle’s Aine Tighe.

The loss was compounded for Richmond by Sarah Hosking injuring her hamstring in the final quarter.

Dockers players sing the song after their win. Picture: Morgan HancockSource: Getty Images

RICHMOND AMBUSHED

Fremantle got off to a barnstorming start, kicking the first four goals, and made Richmond pay for their early inefficiency up forward after the hosts led the inside 50s 8-4 at one stage.

From that point, the Dockers had the next 11 forward entries as their lead stretched to 27 points late in the second quarter.

And if Gabby O’Sullivan (twice) and Aine Tighe didn’t hit the post, that lead would’ve been much larger.

Such was Fremantle’s domination of territory that it took the Tigers 11 minutes to enter their forward 50 for the first time in the second term.

The lack of pressure on Fremantle’s midfielders was telling and a converted set shot from Bethany Lynch with nine seconds remaining in the second term saved Richmond from the ignominy of a goalless first half.

FREO IN THE FRAME

The result enhances Fremantle’s chances of a return to finals, but they’re not out of the woods yet. With a 3-2 record, they will still probably have to win three of their last five matches to qualify, and with heavyweights Melbourne and North Melbourne still in their run home, as well as Geelong (away), they still have the job ahead of them.

Meanwhile, Richmond (3-2) missed a chance to keep in touch with the top four and could find themselves out of the top eight by the end of the round. They too will likely need another three wins to make the finals and with fellow top-eight sides Gold Coast, Essendon and Geelong still to come, they’ll be made to earn it.

Docker Gabby O’Sullivan celebrates a goal. Picture: Morgan HancockSource: Getty Images

TIGERS 0.1, 1.2, 3.3, 4.6 (30)

DOCKERS 3.0, 4.5, 5.6, 5.7 (37)

CARLTON HOLD ON FOR CRUCIAL WIN

Carlton have held on for a nailbiting five-point victory over Sydney in a seesawing affair at Ikon Park on Friday.

After a tight start, the Blues broke the game open with four of the last five goals in the first half, including two to Mia Austin, to lead by 12 points at the main break.

The Swans hit back with two majors in five minutes to level the scores again early in the third quarter, and although Carlton regained control of play, they squandered multiple gilt-edged shots at goal, including a pair of set shots from Phoebe McWilliams and a goalsquare soccer attempt from Breann Moody, to keep the door open for Sydney.

When Swans forward Rebecca Privitelli took a huge pack mark and kicked her fourth goal from 25m out, the margin was cut to four points with just over four minutes remaining.

However, the Swans were unable to exit their back half in the final three minutes, ensuring Carlton a thrilling 6.8 (44) to 6.3 (39) win.

CARLTON JOIN LOGJAM

The Blues are now one of eight teams, as of Friday, with three wins.

To make the finals Carlton will probably have to win three of their last five games, while the job to finish in the top eight just got harder for the Swans who will likely need four more victories.

But the win came at a cost for Carlton with Amelia Velardo copping a nasty knee to the ribs and taking little part in the second half.

AMAZING ABBIE

McKay starred for the Blues with 25 disposals (15 contested), nine clearances and eight tackles, while forward/ruck Moody had a huge influence too with 16 touches (11 contested), 11 hitouts and a goal.

For the Swans, ruck Ally Morphett continued to show why she is one of the most exciting young prospects in the AFLW with 25 possessions (13 contested), eight marks, 27 hitouts and six clearances, and Laura Gardiner had a day out with 33 disposals (13 contested), seven clearances and a goal.

BIZARRE START

There was a brief delay at IKON Park after Carlton’s forwards and defenders initially lined up at the wrong ends of the ground.

The mistake prompted them to frantically sprint to their correct positions prior to the first bounce, before the game got underway.

Swans came close but couldn’t overrun the Blues. Picture: Kelly DefinaSource: Getty Images

BLUES 1.0, 5.1, 5.4, 6.8 (44)

SWANS 1.1, 3.1, 5.1, 6.3 (39)

DOGS HORROR RUN CONTINUES

In the battle of the under-pressure AFLW coaches, heat continues to rise on the Western Bulldogs’ Nathan Burke after his club’s worst-ever start to a season continued on Friday night with an 18-point loss to St Kilda.

It was hardly the ideal way for the Dogs to mark their first game back at their renovated Whitten Oval home, and the 8.6 (54) to 6.0 (36) result ensured they remained winless from their first five games – with their finals hopes all but shot after an injury-ravaged start to the season.

Despite being signed up until the end of 2024, Burke has only guided his team to one final (a loss) in his five seasons in charge.

Meanwhile, after a rocky start to his third campaign at the helm of the Saints, the pressure has eased marginally on coach Nick Dal Santo who oversaw his seventh win from 24 attempts. After back-to-back victories, the Saints still have a pulse in the finals race.

Hannah Priest and Nicola Xenos celebrate victory. Picture: Morgan HancockSource: Getty Images

PRIEST LEADS THE WAY

Captain Hannah Priest was fantastic for the Saints, racking up 27 disposals (11 contested), eight tackles and four clearances, while Jaimee Lambert was critical as well, finishing with 22 touches and a goal.

For the Bulldogs, Ellie Blackburn continued her fantastic season and was once again her team‘s standout with 31 possessions (18 contested), 12 clearances and six tackles. Kirsty Lamb played one of her best games of 2023 too, as she recorded 20 disposals (10 contested), six tackles, five clearances and a goal.

WARDLAW SPARKS ST KILDA

The Saints got off to a flyer, kicking the first three goals to shoot out to a 19-point lead in the opening term, as Jesse Wardlaw started with a bang by kicking two of her three majors from the ruck to become just the 10th player in AFLW history to reach 50 career goals.

SAINTS CLOSE IT OUT

St Kilda kicked five goals to lead by 23 points late in the third quarter as the Bulldogs’ enthusiasm and attack on the ball quickly dissipated, allowing the Saints to capitalise handsomely and produce a match-winning burst.

DOGS 1.0, 5.0, 6.0, 6. (36)

SAINTS 3.1, 6.3, 8.6, 8.6 (54)

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