By Ant Wingard
Saturday, February 24
Brisbane Lions (1st) v Fremantle Dockers (5th) at Southpine Sports Complex, 3:25pm
The Brisbane Lions may sit atop the top the AFL Women’s ladder, but any slip up in Round 4 could jeopardise their hopes of back-to-back Grand Final appearances. With five teams sitting with a 2-1 record after three rounds of the competition, only percentage separates the clear majority of the competition and the stakes couldn’t be higher.
After a first half wrought with defensive schemes and stingy mindsets, Brisbane were able to crack the league’s best defensive team, emerging 22-point victors over Carlton in Round 3. The Lions kicked five goals to two in the second half, dominating inside 50s (+10) and disposals (+44) whilst culling the offensive opportunities of the Blues.
As the showdown with Fremantle approaches, Brisbane will be hopeful of carrying the momentum from the gritty win into Round 4, where they face a reinvigorated Fremantle at home.
Backed in with little chance of upsetting an undefeated Melbourne side before the game, Fremantle rallied after a scoreless opening term to usurp the Demons by five points, breathing life into their 2018 campaign.
Having claimed their second win of the year, the Dockers are among the teams jostling with the Lions for a place on top of the ladder. Ahead of the Round 4 matchup in Brisbane, Fremantle will again be underdogs – a position they are now somewhat familiar with. However, with a plethora of talent in their ranks, a close contest will likely ensue.
Kara Donnellen remains one of the best midfielders of the league, and with the rise of Dana Hooker and the consist potency of Ebony Antonio suggests Fremantle won’t bow to the Lions without ease.
Saturday’s match-up looms as a wet affair, with forecasts suggesting a heavy chance of rain. The Lions however, are not perverse to grinding out a win in the wet. Brisbane’s Round 1 victory over Melbourne in 2017, which was interrupted at stages due to lightening, kick started their undefeated season in an ironic stroke of good fortune.
Lions’ head coach Craig Starcevich has made just one change to the side which beat Carlton last week, with rookie Gabby Collingwood returning in the place of rising star nominee Sophie Conway, who after booting two goals last week, has succumbed to a shin injury.
Brisbane Lions Team v Fremantle Dockers
B: B. Koenen 3, K. Lutkins 13, J. Stanton 17
HB: N. Exon 15, L. Kaslar 11, S. Campbell 20
C: E. Bates 1
HF: K. McCarthy 9, T. Randall 16, E. Zielke 8
F: J. Wuetschner 23, I. Ayre 2, K. Ashmore 10
Foll: S. Frederick-Traub 14, J. Zanchetta 7, A. Anderson 18
I/C: N. Hildebrand 22, A. Clarke 21, S. Webb 4, G. Collingwood 28, B. Gibson 25
Emerg: M.Hunt 6, E.Pittman 29
@lionsaflw are back at South Pine TOMORROW as they take on @freodockers ✊ Gates open 12:30pm (EST) & game starts 3:35PM (EST) 💥 FREE ENTRY 👌 WATCH: 4:30pm (EDT) 7mate (Bris & Perth), Fox Sports (Aus wide) or LIVE STREAM FREE on the AFLW Official App! 🎉🌟 #AFLWLionsFreo pic.twitter.com/KMsgHjz5Ti
— AFL Women's (@aflwomens) February 23, 2018