Fremantle defender Laura Pugh details Dockers defensive development as they head to final after Adelaide defeat

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It was the game’s stint against Adelaide that optimized just how dangerous Fremantle’s back line has become.

Known for strangling their opposition and currently ranked the league’s second-best defense based on points against, Fremantle’s defenders are also an attacking asset.

It all started when Emma O’Driscoll won a free kick by holding the ball to Adelaide’s 50 limit.

The Crows quickly blocked the lane, so when Dana East scored on the wing of the stand at Fremantle Oval a few possessions later, she was forced to retreat.

Thanks to Sarah Verrier, O’Driscoll, Laura Pugh and Ange Stannett, Fremantle’s four standout defenders this season, the Dockers got the ball in the open side.

The patient buildup continued in wide-wing kick fashion, eventually finding Kara Antonio who sent the ball long and high inside 50.

A platoon formed but Adelaide couldn’t complete the relief mark, leaving Mikayla Morrison to collapse to ground level and fire a ball from the hand of captain Hayley Miller who charged into an open goal.

It was Fremantle’s first inside-50 for the quarter, and for that they had a goal.

At the other end, the Dockers fended off 10 insides from 50, limiting the Crows to five points as their midfield gained the upper hand.

Camera iconDockers’ Hayley Miller leads the team from the pitch after being beaten by Adelaide. Credit: Paul Kane/by AFL Photos

Adelaide would eventually win thanks to two goals in the final quarter as Fremantle felt the weight of 43 in the 50s, but Pugh said the passing of the game said a lot about the defensive evolution of the Dockers.

“We want to be more offensive and that’s what we did in the third and fourth quarters as well,” she said.

“We got stuck in defense and stuck behind our players. We have to be more proactive and attack and help our midfielders and forward line.

“We have a confident group and that allows us to go for it this year, even if we sometimes make mistakes.

“We want to set the benchmark for being the best back line in the competition. You look at everyone spinning and how differently we all play and the skills we bring.

“It’s pretty amazing the distribution of skills and what we can achieve with that.”

Laura Pugh runs after a loose ball.
Camera iconLaura Pugh runs after a loose ball. Credit: Will Russell/Photos

Pugh, who leads Fremantle in the 50s rebound this year, has also been looking to develop his game.

“I decided to be more assertive,” she said.

“Sometimes I can play a passive role or let things happen in the backline, but this year I wanted to be more assertive and communicate with the other players that we can take matters into our own hands and go for it. “

The Dockers will be redeemable against Melbourne at Optus Stadium on Saturday, with Gold Coast to follow in the final round of the season.

“It’s an advantage to play these teams because we can achieve the intensity required for the finals,” said Pugh.

“We know that at this stage of the season we have to keep improving towards the end of the year.”

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