Best is yet to come for in-form Frederick: Symonds
COLLINGWOOD ruck Sabrina Frederick may hold claim to the most improved player in Season 8, having revitalised her career in the role after struggling to find her All-Australian best across two clubs in the past five seasons. But in Season 8, Frederick is in her best form since dominating as a key forward for Brisbane in the first two AFL Women’s seasons, and Magpies coach Steve Symonds says “the best is yet to come”.
Frederick played a starring role in Collingwood’s tight six-point win over Geelong in a wind and rain affected Victoria Park, to move one step closer to another finals berth. The Magpies kicked the first four goals of the game and led 29-3 at the 13-minute mark of the third term, for Geelong finished strongly with the final three goals of the game to the Magpies’ one behind.
“The conditions always not going to allow a blowout of a game so it was always going to be tight,” Symonds said. “No one was ever going to get a margin in those conditions, it was just a matter of playing out each quarter as it was with the wind and a bit of rain as well. Made conditions tough, but look we did enough in the end to win the game, we thought we controlled the ball around the contest really, really well today.”
Frederick dominated the ruck yet again, picking up a game-high 38 hitouts – to Geelong’s team total of 25 – while picking up 10 disposals, two marks, four tackles and two clearances in the process. Symonds said Frederick was playing an unbelievable season for the Magpies in that number one ruck role.
“Sabrina’s had a great season so far and she continues to improve in the role,” he said. “Each week the more experience she’s getting in that role she’s getting better and better so the conditions suited her where she can use her bigger frame to get the ball down.
“I also think her hitouts are very understated, she actually puts the ball on the spot for our midfield group nicely and she’s really developed nicely and she’s taken to that role really, really well.”
Though the arctic conditions at Victoria Park might not have suited talls, Symonds said Frederick and his side was able to take control of the game and then hold on when the Cats gained momentum late.
“It obviously makes it very contested,” Symonds said. “In the women’s game there’s not as much territory with the kicking and more numbers around the ball. Just whoever can think their way through the situation the best is always going to win those types of games.
“Sometimes it’s a real battle of having that real mentality of being really contested then having the composure when you have ball-in-hand trying to have that composure. We did a lot of things right today and we’ve got a couple of learning things that we will take away that we need to work on. All in all really happy the way we went out, we’re happy to get the four points and keep moving forward.”
As for Frederick, Symonds said Frederick was growing in confidence each week and had embraced her role in the ruck, and most importantly was enjoying her football.
“She’s growing in confidence because she’s getting better and better at it and she’s seeing herself and feeling herself getting better and better each week so I think that’s most athletes,” he said. “As soon as you get the confidence in what you’re doing and start to get the results of that, you start to get belief and you start believing in confidence so I think she’s going through that as an athlete and I think we haven’t seen the best of her yet, I think she’s got so much more to grow and we hope she continues to grow.”
Frederick moved into fifth on the all-time hitouts within a singular season, and is just 51 behind Western Bulldogs’ Alice Edmonds from Season 7. With two rounds to go, Frederick takes on a makeshift Sydney ruck division of former Magpie Bella Smith and Lexi Hamilton with in-form Swans ruck Ally Morphett missing for the rest of the season.
Collingwood needs at least one win in its final two matches – taking on the Swans and Richmond – to likely seal a finals spot, though must win both to guarantee it. Top four is still a glimmer of hope, but the Magpies would need Brisbane to lose both its matches against St Kilda and Melbourne to snatch fourth.