FREMANTLE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 31: Kiara Bowers of the Dockers looks to pass the ball under pressure from Alicia Eva of the Giants during the 2021 AFLW Round 01 match between the Fremantle Dockers and the GWS Giants at Fremantle Community Bank Oval on January 31, 2021 in Fremantle, Australia. (Photo by Will Russell/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

With a stunning record when facing opponents over in the west, Fremantle will enter the 2022 season confident of obtaining their third finals pass.

While the Dockers' heave-ho rise to prominence was halted by the early end of the 2020 season, before being bested on qualifying final week last the following April, head coach Trent Cooper will be aiming to rediscover an upward trend in the new year.

Given Fremantle's open desire to see both of their teams claim debut flags by 2025, the purple-clad club is on the clock even before the season has started.

But with so many stars studded across every line of the field, the Dockers are, without doubt, one of the genuine premiership contenders ahead of the competition's sixth season.

2021 Recap 

Having constructed an unbeaten 7-0 record prior to the culling of their 2020 campaign, Fremantle, quite rightfully, entered 2021 buoyed with the optimism that their best was enough to beat the rest.

Embed from Getty Images

However, following a stunted final fortnight that saw them drop agonisingly close games to Melbourne and North ahead of the finals, Cooper's side bowed out of the 2021 season a week later following yet another defeat at the hands of the Demons.

While keeping the scoreboard ticking over remained a weekly ritual, the competition's inaugural team from the west were unable to muster any better than a 1-4 tally against top-calibre clubs.

Despite falling short of their ultimate goal, a silver lining was evident when star midfielder Kiara Bowers claimed both the AFLWCA Champion Player of the Year Award and shared league best and fairest honours with Collingwood's Bri Davey.

Embed from Getty Images

Off-season moves

Given the star quality that already resides on their roster, Fremantle saw fit to sit idle at the trade table.

Although they did bolster their stocks at the draft, the anchor-crested club lost the services of dependable defender Evie Gooch to their cross-town rivals and offensive mainstay Sabreena Duffy to work commitments.

With Gooch becoming an Eagle after citing a desire for greater playing opportunities, the Dockers' inability to call on Duffy's career average of 1.2 goals per game has the ability to stymy their offensive output once the ball hits the deck.

Any possible hindrance will only be heightened due to the added absence of Ash Sharp, who is also on sabbatical ahead of the birth of her first child.

Embed from Getty Images

Recruits: Nil.

Draftees: Dana East, Amy Franklin, Jessica Low, Airlie Runnalls, Makaela Tuhakaraina, Sarah Wielstra. 

Inactive: Sabreena Duffy (work), Ash Sharp (pregnancy).

Out: Evie Gooch (West Coast), Leah Mascall (retired), Katie-Jayne Grieve, Tarnee Tester, Jess Trend, Alex Williams (delisted).

Strengths and weaknesses 

With weapons in Hayley Miller, Kara Antonio, Jasmin Stewart, Sarah Verrier and Bowers roving the tap work of Mim Strom, the Dockers possess one of the competition's deadliest midfield units.

And with this group sending the ball forward to the twinned pillars of Roxy Roux and All-Australian Gemma Houghton, the key members of Fremantle's offence should also come with a recognisable hazard warning.

Still, as only 40 percent of their 132 scoring shots managed to split the big sticks last season, an emphasis on straightening up when firing at the goal mouth will have been imparted on those within the forward arc.

Having conceded an average of 37-points across their final three outings last year after allowing just 16 throughout the season's opening six weeks, Cooper is sure to have also requested a lift from his defensive stocks ahead of their latest premiership assault.

Embed from Getty Images

Season summary 

Adelaide (H), GWS (H), Richmond (A), Collingwood (A), North Melbourne (A), Carlton (H), Geelong (A), West Coast (H), Melbourne (H), Western Bulldogs (A).

Defining period

As Fremantle is scheduled to face four out of a possible five finalists from 2021, there remains no stretch of terrain in which they can hit cruise control.

While contests against stiff opponents in Adelaide, Carlton, Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs will take place on their side of the Nullarbor, the back-to-back Victorian clashes against Collingwood and North Melbourne in Rounds 4 and 5 will provide a serious litmus test.

But given the Dockers' ameliorated form during interstate games across the last three seasons, the Cooper and Miller-led side will no longer fear strong foes on the road.

Embed from Getty Images

Predictions

Having been cruelled of an opportunity to claim the club's first piece of silverware in 2020, and then faltering on their final trio of hurdles last season, Fremantle's hunger for premiership success is likely to be at its zenith this summer.

With a balanced squad at his disposal, Cooper will be sure to deem the season a failure if a trip back to the business end of the year is out of reach.

Yet, even if the premiership doesn't dock in the port city in autumn, another off-season spent retaining their handful of senior players and sharpening bevy of rising stars will see their window stay open to the Doctor's breeze.

Embed from Getty Images

Cameron Grimes: 5th
Danielle Sorati: 4th
Ed Carmine: 4th
Jake Benoiton: 5th
Michael Georgiou: 7th
Mitch Keating: 4th
Niesha Happell: 5th