Collingwood has re-established its one-game lead at the top of the AFLW ladder with a 36-point win over the Western Bulldogs at Victoria Park on Sunday.
The first half was the epitome of a defensive struggle, with just one goal kicked between the two sides.
The Bulldogs had the only major through Elisabeth Georgostathis as her team led by two points at the main break.
However, Collingwood lifted in the second half, dominating the attacking exchanges to run out winners by 7.9 (51) to 2.3 (15).
The Pies had scored eight straight behinds, before Chloe Molloy finally got them on the board with 10:40 left in the third term, following a free kick in forward 50.
This was the start of a relentless surge by the home side. Collingwood kicked four unanswered goals for the quarter, including one from Abbi Moloney with her first touch in the AFLW.
An avalanche of forward entries from the Magpies proved too much for the Bulldogs’ defence.
When the three-quarter time siren went, Collingwood had turned a deficit into a 23-point lead.
The Bulldogs managed another goal to Jessica Fitzgerald in the final term, but the Magpies kicked another three, including Moloney’s second goal with her second kick.
Brianna Davey produced a dominating performance, with 28 disposals, eight marks, seven tackles and a goal.
Brittany Bonnici was another prolific ballgetter for the winners, racking up 22 disposals, five marks and five tackles.
Moloney and Molloy both finished with two goals.
The Pies had 40 inside 50s to the Bulldogs’ 21, and eight marks inside 50 to their opponents’ one.
With three rounds left, the Magpies are a game clear at the top, with the Fremantle Dockers, Brisbane Lions and the Adelaide Crows on 20 competition points.
Houghton kicks five as Dockers dominate derby
The Dockers joined Brisbane and Adelaide on five wins for the season with a dominating display in the Western Derby against West Coast in Perth.
Fremantle jumped out to a 34-point lead at half-time and went on to defeat the Eagles 11.9 (75) to 1.2 (8) at Perth Stadium.
The Dockers had too much firepower and too much attacking class for West Coast, taking 15 marks inside 50 to none for the Eagles.
Gemma Houghton became only the second player in the AFLW’s five-year history to kick five goals or better in a single game.
Brooke Lochland holds the record, kicking seven for the Western Bulldogs against Carlton in 2018.
The Dockers star joined the Magpies’ Molloy and the Crows’ Erin Phillips on 11 goals for the season to top the standings with three rounds to go before finals.
Sabreena Duffy booted three for Freo, while Roxanne Roux kicked two — including a set-shot following a brilliant pack mark.
Fremantle led in virtually all categories, with 32 more contested possessions, 18 more forward entries, 12 more clearances and 14 more tackles than their opponents.
The percentage-boosting win put the Dockers up to second on the ladder on percentage ahead of the Lions and Crows.
They face Carlton, Melbourne and the Kangaroos in the run home.
Prespakis scare overshadows win for Blues
Carlton star Madison Prespakis had an injury scare on return from suspension as the Blues gave their AFLW finals hopes a boost with a comfortable 33-point win over Geelong.
Marquee forward Tayla Harris was left out of the selected side but Carlton still found plenty of avenues to goal, piling on their highest score of the season against the competition’s lowest-ranked team.
Darcy Vescio, Serena Gibbs and Georgia Gee kicked two goals each in the 10.4 (64) to 4.7 (31) victory at Princes Park on Sunday.
The result kept Carlton in touch with the top six but came at some cost as young gun Mimi Hill had to be helped off the field by trainers after suffering a knee injury early in the final term.
Earlier, reigning league best and fairest Prespakis hurt her left elbow pushing off the ground while trying to feed out a handpass through traffic from her knees.
She spent quarter-time on the bench undergoing medical assessment and had the joint strapped, but returned to play a key role in the Blues’ midfield.
Prespakis finished with 27 disposals and a goal as Grace Egan (24) and Kerryn Harrington (21) joined her in racking up huge possession tallies.
Carlton had previously struggled to score in first quarters this season — managing a total of just 1.2 in five opening terms — and conceded Sunday’s first goal to Geelong’s Rebecca Webster.
But Vescio found space out the back to kick two goals in a minute to seize the lead and the Blues had four on the board by quarter-time.
Geelong forward Phoebe McWilliams and Blues defender Alison Downie both left the field temporarily after a nasty head clash during the second quarter, and the Cats lost Millie Brown to a right hamstring issue.
Amy McDonald, Sophie Van De Heuvel and Webster were Geelong’s best contributors.
Harris has been listed as “managed” and will be available to return when Carlton host high-flying Fremantle in another crunch clash at Princes Park in round seven.