Dockers down Eagles in AFLW thriller

·2-min read

A Kiara Bowers tackling masterclass and a starring display from Hayley Miller have helped Fremantle maintain their perfect western derby record with a three-point AFLW win over West Coast.

Bowers tallied 18 tackles to go with 17 disposals in Thursday's match at Optus Stadium, while Miller was awarded the derby medal for her 26-disposal, eight-clearance display in the 3.8 (26) to 3.5 (23) win.

A goal to rising Eagles star Isabella Lewis closed the margin to just one point with four minutes to go, but Fremantle held firm at the death to improve their derby record to 5-0 and also notch their first victory of the season.

A calf injury during the pre-season meant Miller was far from her best in the early rounds, but she is now building into the season nicely.

"Hayley isn't a very patient person and she likes to perform at her best, but we've been preaching to her just keep doing what she's been doing and it'll come," Dockers coach Trent Cooper said.

"She's so competitive, so she likes obviously winning and playing well, and she's felt probably the internal pressure rather than pressure from outside of that early on.

"But today absolutely she was back to her best. It was a really good performance."

Lewis finished with a team-high 25 disposals for West Coast, while captain Emma Swanson collected 20 disposals and had five clearances.

Eagles ruck Sarah Lakay tallied 42 hit-outs, but Fremantle big Mim Strom (17 hitouts, 17 possessions) was able to do damage around the ground.

"I think as a young developing team we took a step forward today," Eagles coach Michael Prior said.

"Especially in the first half with our pressure around the footy, dominating clearance and time in our front half."

Fremantle won the tackle count 87-47, with Bowers now boasting a league-record 10 matches in which she has tallied 15 tackles or more.

West Coast dominated the territory battle in the opening half, spending 65 per cent of game time in their forward half to win the inside 50m count 20-11.

Fremantle's efficiency when they did go forward ensured they stayed within striking distance.

A clever snap from Amy Franklin got the Dockers on the board in the first quarter and Aine Tighe shot Fremantle into the lead when she nailed a 40m goal on the run in the second.

Eagles debutant Abbygail Bushby ensured West Coast entered half time with a three-point lead when she kicked truly following a 50m penalty.

Tighe scored the only goal of the third quarter after being awarded a juggling mark that she actually ended up dropping.

Nevertheless, her 40m set shot gave the Dockers a five-point lead at the final change and Fremantle's four behinds in the final term proved enough to get them the win.