Fremantle Dockers AFLW Season 7 Preview

After getting oh so close in Season Six, the Dockers will be looking to go one better and reach the Grand Final in Season Seven.

FREMANTLE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 13: The Dockers form a huddle during the 2022 AFLW practice match between the Fremantle Dockers and the West Coast Eagles at Fremantle Oval on August 13, 2022 in Fremantle, Australia. (Photo by Will Russell/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Recap of last season

The Dockers overcame one of the toughest fixtures, coming against the best teams and not having home-field advantage anywhere near as much as they would've liked.

After finishing fifth on the ladder in the last two seasons, the Dockers will be looking to finally make their step into the top four and go deep into the finals.

A big semi-final win came against the Kangaroos, but they couldn't quite book their spot in the Grand Final after dropping the Preliminary Final to eventual premiers Adelaide.

How they did last year

5th, seven wins and three losses.

While the Dockers got off to a great start getting over the top of the Eagles in the Derby, things became much more difficult for them in the rest of the season. The COVID situation meant they were on the road for four more weeks.

Thankfully for them, the time on the road coalesced the group, with them going 4-0 before dropping a game to the Kangaroos in cold and dark Tasmania.

The Dockers clearly had the talent to match other clubs with players such as Ebony Antonio and Hayley Miller, but they couldn't quite reach the heights after dropping the Preliminary final.

The Dockers were a heavy kicking team last season, putting boot to ball more than any other team by quite a margin.

This kick and mark type of football is undoubtedly different from how many teams played last season and what it allowed the Dockers to rack up some huge scores, such as their 69-31 win over the Roos in the Qualifying Final.

How they can improve

The only question is whether the Dockers can go one better and finally get to the Grand Final after being one of the key contenders over the last three seasons.

Perhaps the scars of the 2020 cancelled Grand Final are still hurting the side who had every chance of taking the cup that season.

While goal kicking and their kicking game, in general, was a huge positive last season, it will be something they either need to improve in 2022 or adapt.

A key part of their goal-kicking was Gemma Houghton; unfortunately for the Dockers, she is now at Port Adelaide. Sabreena Duffy was expected to stand up in that position, but now she is now at Melbourne, so the forward line looks quite bare.

Perhaps it's time for Trent Cooper to innovate and change his game plan slightly and go for a more run and carry type of game rather than simply going hard down the ground with long kicks trying to go down the guts.

Nikki Gore coming from Adelaide will hopefully provide them with the run they need to make some essential game changes.

List Changes

Ins: Nikki Gore (Adelaide), Madeleine Scanlon (Claremont), Tara Stribley (Swan Districts), Megan Kauffman (Wembley Magpies), Amy Mulholland (Subiaco), Tahlia Read (Calder Cannons).

Outs: Gemma Houghton (Port Adelaide), Maggie MacLachlan (Port Adelaide), Steph Cain (Essendon), Sabreena Duffy (delisted), Ann McMahon (delisted), Tiah Toth (delisted), Jasmin Stewart (retired), Ashley Sharp (maternity leave), Mikayla Morrison (injury).

Biggest Strength

As mentioned above, the Dockers played a kicking, marking and goaling game that was very successful in Season Six. But that wasn't their main strength. Their tackling pressure was what really stood out in so many of their wins last year.

The Dockers averaged 71.2 tackles across last season, almost four more than the next best Brisbane Lions. With the forward line taking some hits in the trade period, their ability to put some defensive pressure on and keep their opposition scoring will be critical in season seven.

Biggest Weakness

Being a top-level team, it's hard to call the Dockers weak in any area, but unfortunately, their ability to get hit outs and then run the ball out of the middle was a point of frustration last season.

The Dockers finished the season averaging 21.3 hit outs per match, putting them eighth in the competition on that metric. With Nikki Gore coming into the middle, the ability to give her first use of the ball will be the difference between another disappointing finish or finally securing that Grand Final appearance.

Rising Star

The Dockers had to wait until pick 27 for their first pick in the draft. In some ways, it's a compliment about just how good and consistent they have been, but of course, it also means they don't get to bring in the top-level talent of other teams.

Madeleine Scanlon was chosen at pick 27 for the Dockers coming from Claremont. She's a running defender who, at good size (172cm), could turn into an intercept marker roaming around the backline.

At that size, we could also see her go forward at times in the Docker's attempt to find a key forward.

Prediction for 2022

While they have lost some of their key forwards as well as some other talent, the side has put together their own style under Trent Cooper.

Having not been hit as hard as some of the other non-expansion teams, the Dockers should still be up there when finals come around. The issue, though, is whether they can find the talent up forward to convert their midfield run and kicking game into goals.

Predicted ladder position: 4th