Some deft ball movement from Sarah Verrier to Kara Antonio in the dying seconds of the quarter set up Houghton for the first goal of the game for either club soon after.
Sabreena Duffy got her first of three part-way through the second quarter but the Giants were able to keep hanging in the match with West Australian Aimee Schmidt threading the needle on a tight angle from the pocket.
It was as close as the Giants got for the rest of the game despite a valiant effort from Alyce Parker who kept trying to fire up her team on her way to 29 disposals.
Reigning Fremantle best and fairest Kiara Bowers had a trademark tough performance, running off an early cork to finish with 21 disposals and nine tackles.
Dockers full back Janelle Cutherbertson could do no wrong as she defused several GWS incursions in a strong outing.
Fremantle coach Trent Cooper said he was happy overall with his team’s performance and pressure.
“I thought our last half was really good and we were able to come away with a solid win over quality opposition,” he said.
The Dockers were looked like they could win a flag last year before the season was derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cooper said the club had been written off this year by others from even getting to a grand final so Sunday felt like a chance to prove themselves.
“Last year gave us momentum for this year, it was really important though to play well today and give belief to the group,” he said.
Cooper said Houghton’s pre-season had been outstanding and she was a unique talent for the league.
“I don’t think there is anyone like her in the AFLW and she can make things happen that no one else can and when she does she can really break the game open for us,” he said.
Fremantle crowd pays tribute to Jacinda Barclay
Late Giants player and Australian sporting star Jacinda Barclay was remembered with one minute’s silence before the start of the game.
A big group of Giants supporters formed near the Fremantle scoreboard waving cut-outs of Barclay’s number 34.
Players wore black armbands in her memory and a guernsey with her number was also hung at the interchange bench throughout the game.
Giants coach Alan McConnell said after the siren he was proud of the girls in what had been a rollercoaster few months.
The show goes on
The 1.10pm bouncedown came about 30 minutes after WA Premier Mark McGowan began a press conference announcing a lockdown of greater Perth from 6pm on Sunday.
WA Health Minister Roger Cook said there had not been any reason to cancel the game given the restrictions were not coming in place until after the final siren.
The crowd of 3195 at Fremantle Oval soaked up what might be their last chance for a while to enjoy a Sunday game of football.
Dockers players were unaware of the lockdown until after the match but Cooper said the group took the news fairly well.
“We told them as soon as we possibly could after the game,” he said.
“We thought there was no point having them panic before the game.”
Cooper said the way the season would look now regarding travel and work commitments for some of the players would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
The Dockers were due to fly out on Saturday to Adelaide for round two but are in the dark for the moment as to how the next week will look as the AFL figures out what to do.
GWS and Adelaide were set to jump on a flight to South Australia after 5pm on Sunday out of Perth.
1.2, 2.3, 5.8, 8.10 (58)
0.3, 1.4, 2.4, 4.4 (28)
Fremantle: Duffy 3, Houghton 3, Antonio, Hyde
GWS: Bennetts, Davies, Privitelli, Schmidt
Fremantle: Houghton, Bowers, Cuthbertson, Antonio, Stewart, Duffy, O’Sullivan
GWS: Parker, Beeson, Bennetts, McKinnon, Eva
Peter de Kruijff is a journalist with WAtoday.