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Freo settle for fifth despite big AFLW win

Fremantle coach Trent Cooper is backing his side to become the AFLW’s road warriors after the Dockers narrowly missed out on securing a home final.

The Dockers entered Sunday’s match against Gold Coast needing a huge win to leapfrog North Melbourne into fourth spot on percentage, but they ended up two goals short of what was required in the 7.4 (46) to 0.9 (9) victory.

The result saw the Dockers finish in fifth spot, thrusting them into an away qualifying final against the fourth-placed Kangaroos.

Brisbane will face Collingwood in the other qualifying final, with minor premiers Adelaide and second-placed Melbourne earning the week off.

The Dockers must now win three away finals if they are to claim the flag.

Although Fremantle have a 1-3 record against fellow top-six teams this season, Cooper has taken confidence from his team’s strong form on the road.

“We’re undefeated in Melbourne,” Cooper said.

“When we were away, it was really difficult, but also a great experience.

“So we’re looking forward to going back there. It will bring back some good memories.

“Every single final is a knockout final. There’s a lot of pressure on those sides who have had really good years.

“There’s probably not as much pressure on us now where we’re coming from.”

Fremantle appeared no hope of reeling in North Melbourne on percentage after scoring just three goals in the first half.

But a four-goal burst in the final term sparked life into the equation.

The Dockers needed two more goals in the final 68 seconds of the match, but their hopes were ended when Roxy Roux was tackled while shooting for goal 20m out with just 43 seconds remaining on the clock.

Cooper said he gave “zero” weight to the percentage equation in the lead-up to the match.

“To be honest, we’re fine to go on the road,” Cooper said.

“For us to go flat out today to win by that margin was probably going to be counter-productive considering we’re really confident to go on the road.

“It was not a be-all end-all thing at all. I spoke about it with the players for 15 seconds at the start of the meeting today to say don’t even worry about that.”

Star Fremantle midfielder Kiara Bowers marked her return from a knee injury with 18 disposals and 17 tackles, while Angelique Stannett was a rock in defence with 21 disposals.

Suns midfielder Alison Drennan tallied a game-high 25 disposals, while Kalinda Howarth (19 disposals) provided excellent run.

Gold Coast finished the season in 10th spot with three wins and a draw in a much-improved display from last year’s winless wooden spoon campaign.

“I’m certainly proud of the group,” Suns coach Cameron Joyce said.

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