Western Bulldogs AFLW coach Nathan Burke labelled his side’s stunning one-point win against Adelaide the most special he has been a part of, but the jubilation has been tempered by a suspected season-ending knee injury to first-gamer Aurora Smith.
The brave Bulldogs lost Smith and Brooke Lochland to a concussion inside the first 10 minutes of Sunday’s game, played in sweltering conditions at Norwood Oval.
But the Dogs slammed through the first three goals of the contest and led by as much as 24 points before hanging on for a famous 8.1 (49) to 7.6 (48) win to stop the Crows’ unbeaten run at five matches.
The Bulldogs have done it tougher than most in a Covid-ravaged campaign punctuated by fixture postponements and positive cases within the playing group.
But their season is back on track after successive victories with Burke, whose decorated AFL career spanned 323 games with St Kilda, struggling to think of a more special win.
“’Wow’ is a good word for it,” Burke said.
“They were amazing.
“To come over here on a quick turnaround flight, in hot conditions on their home turf, they’re undefeated, we lose two players in the first quarter.
“They not only gutsed it out, they played some really good footy.
“Their want to do it for each other as a tight-knit group … I haven’t been a part of a win that has been as special as that one.”
Smith played just three minutes of her AFLW debut match before hobbling to the bench favouring her right knee.
She will undergo scans to determine if she has suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.
“At this stage it doesn’t look positive,” Burke said.
“It’s an absolute shame.
“But if there’s a young woman who is level-headed and can cope with such ups and downs, it’s her.”
Adelaide hadn’t lost at their Norwood Oval fortress since Valentine’s Day, 2021, when the Dockers took the points.
Despite their poor early play, the Crows were a chance to extend that winning run at home after a stirring late fightback.
Erin Phillips had an opportunity to seal a come-from-behind win with a set shot from 35m out with just over a minute left in the match but her kick fell short.
“We fought it out, a couple of things go our way and we’re celebrating a good win, but instead it’s a costly lesson,” coach Matthew Clarke said.
“We learnt some lessons today.
“We came here expecting a tough game, but clearly we weren’t sharp in that first five minutes. It’s a lesson learnt.
“Our midfield let us down a bit in that (early) moment, but that’s ok.
“They’re outstanding players and they fought very hard from that point onwards, so you back then in to respond.
“They’re a pretty proud group — they’ll learn from it.”
Clarke said that it is still too early to tell if skipper Chelsea Randall will return from a hamstring injury when the Crows take on GWS in Sydney on Saturday.
Frantic minute franks famous win for Doggies
The Adelaide Crows’ unbeaten start to the AFLW season is over after the injury-depleted Western Bulldogs stormed their Norwood Oval fortress and claimed a shock one-point win in sweltering conditions.
Crows superstar Erin Phillips had a chance to win the epic contest with just over a minute left, but her set shot from 35m fell short.
The brave Dogs defended repeated ball-ups inside the Crows’ goal square in a frantic final minute, the Bulldogs awarded a free kick in the dying seconds that sealed a heart-stopping 8.1 (49) to 7.6 (48) win on Sunday.
“They were amazing … they just gutsed it out,” a jubilant Nathan Burke said.
“They were coming to the bench absolutely cooked.
“I kept asking them to give more and more and they just did.
“That was special.”
Ellie Blackburn helped set up the famous win with 23 touches and a goal, with Kirsty Lamb and Bonnie Toogood also crucial in a gutsy display by the visitors.
Dynamic duo Ebony Marinoff and Anne Hatchard starred for the Crows with 27 and 22 disposals respectively, but Matthew Clarke’s side had too many passengers, Adelaide’s winning streak halted at five.
The undefeated Crows had conceded just one first-quarter goal in five rounds this season and had conceded an average of just 15 points a game.
But the red-hot visitors roared past that mark inside the first seven minutes.
The Bulldogs stunned the home side in a blistering start that saw them record the first seven inside 50s and slam through the first three goals.
The Dogs led by 13 points at quarter-time and had eclipsed their highest score of the season by halftime to lead by 17 points.
Making the start even more impressive was the fact that Nathan Burke’s side was down two players inside the first 10 minutes.
Aurora Smith’s AFLW debut lasted just three minutes, with the 18-year-old hobbling to the bench clutching at her right knee without registering a stat.
The distraught debutant was consoled by her coach and captain as she received treatment and took no further part in the game.
Brooke Lochland was concussed in a friendly fire incident, Toogood catching her teammate high as she stormed out on a lead.
Ash Woodland did her best to spark her teammates with a superb chase-down tackle earning her a free kick late in the third term.
The star forward booted her 11th goal of the season to slice the margin to 15 points at three-quarter time.
She bounced through her 12th to make it a nine-point game and Stevie-Lee Thompson’s superb running goal with six minutes left set up a heart-stopping finale.
The Crows scored two more behinds before Phillips’ last-minute set shot, with Clarke left to rue his side’s poor start.
“We obviously got a pretty sharp lesson in the first five minutes of the game,” Clarke said.
“The Bulldogs played at a really high level, some of their intensity and sharpness in the first five was superior to ours, and also their system and method as well.
“Clearly, our start was poor and from there we were chasing the game.”
CROWS 2.0 3.2 4.4 7.6 (48)
BULLDOGS 4.1 6.1 7.1 8.1 (49)
Crows: Marinoff, Hatchard, Phillips, Woodland, Gould, Charlton.
Bulldogs: Blackburn, Lamb, Toogood, Guest, Moody, Fitzgerald.
Crows: Woodland 2, Whiteley 2, Thompson, Munyard, Gould.
Bulldogs: Toogood 2, Moody, Morris-Dalton, Blackburn, Lamb, Cranston, Gutknecht.
Bulldogs: Smith (knee), Lochland (concussion).
Electric Molloy’s midfield move inspires Pies
Collingwood overcame searing heat and their own internal demons before beating West Coast by 24 points in Perth on Sunday, snapping a two-game losing streak.
Playing in temperatures in the mid-30s at Mineral Resources Park, the Magpies made life tough for themselves in the opening half, wasting opportunities to score while dominating the general play.
But a four-goal third term, their best of the season, set up a 7.4 (46) to 3.4 (22) victory, Collingwood’s fourth of this campaign.
The Magpies fed from the dominant 27 possession performance from midfielder Brittany Bonnici, which she topped off with a goal in the final term.
Chloe Molloy and Sophie Alexander kicked two goals apiece for the Pies.
The win was the Pies first in Perth since 2017 when they beat Fremantle by one point in Round 5. It also keeps intact their unbeaten record against West Coast, albeit the sides have met only twice.
The Eagles other loss to the Magpies was in their inaugural AFLW clash, at Victoria Park in 2020.
Collingwood has struggled to get the ball forward this season, averaging only 20.2 entries inside-50 a game.
In the two losses before Sunday’s win – against Fremantle and Brisbane – they managed only 10 and 20 inside 50 entries respectively. The result was just one goal a game in each of them.
Getting the ball forward was not the issue for the Magpies against the Eagles.
The hard work around the ground, mainly by Bonnici and Molloy, finally transferred into scoring chances.
They had two goals on the board by quarter-time.
The Pies went inside 18 times in the opening term and had the ball in attack 29 times by halftime. That is more inside-50s than they have managed over four quarters in any game this season.
But they went into the main break with only two goals on the board, both kicked in the first term.
Sabrina Frederick was missing due to health and safety protocols, who, while important to the Magpies structure, hasn’t kicked a goal from her own boot this season.
In the third term though, they kicked four goals to blow the game apart, despite going forward only seven times for the quarter.
Collingwood finished with a massive 40-23 advantage in inside 50 entries.
MOLLOY TO THE MIDDLE
Collingwood coach Stephen Symonds needed some extra drive out of the midfield and found it.
The move of Molloy into the centre square paid dividends from the opening bounce.
She had eight touches in the opening term, two clearances and two inside 50s to set the tone for the game.
The Eagles were forced to try to run Maddy Collier with her, but with little effect.
Molloy finished with 18 possessions and slipped forward to kick the opening goal of the game.
Alexander, who also went goalless in the past two losses, also looked dangerous in attack, kicking two goals.
EAGLE WINGS CLIPPED
The Eagles were back at home for the first time since 8 January and flying high after recording their first win last week.
But for most of the first half, they were stuck in the Collingwood half of the ground.
If it wasn’t for Ashton Hill’s marking in defence, the game could have been done and dusted at the min break.
They did record their fifth goalless opening term for the season and third scoreless opening quarter for 2022.
Dana Hooker, with 21 possessions and Emma Swanson (19) both gave Collingwood some headaches, while Aimee Schmidt looked good in attack, but failed to convert her chances, finishing with 0.3.
SHATTERED SAINTS FALL SHORT OF MIGHTY UPSET
A misfiring Brisbane shattered St Kilda’s hopes of a first win of the season, hanging on to beat the fast-finishing Saints by five points.
It was 31C at the first bounce, but the Lions brought the heat when it mattered and despite kicking their way to an unwanted record remain in touch with the top four.
St Kilda started and finished the game like their lives depended on it but will rue poor second and third quarters in which they only kicked one point.
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Brisbane was assisted by a strong Sandringham breeze, but it was St Kilda’s Nicola Xenos who kicked the first goal of the game after she won a free kick for holding the ball directly in front of goal.
The Lions dominated inside 50s and peppered the goals but were inaccurate, while the Saints were able to hold up well with short kicking and precise ball movement coming out of defence.
They were rewarded for their best quarter of the season with a second goal to Xenos following some smart ground-level work from Caitlin Greiser.
Hannah Priest was exceptional for the Saints in the midfield and had six disposals and two clearances in the first quarter.
The second quarter was dominated by Brisbane as Orla O’Dwyer worked her way into the game and provided strong drive from the wing.
The Lions nearly had a monopoly on scoring opportunities in the term but wasted them all, kicking five behinds to leave them goalless at halftime.
Brisbane flexed its muscle in the third quarter, and they finally had their first goal of the game seven-minutes into the term through first-gamer Luka Yoshida-Martin.
They started to run rampant as they locked the ball inside their front 60m and it became telling when Greta Body added another goal before Sophie Conway piled on another extending their lead to 16-points.
The Saints needed everything to go perfectly in the last quarter and couldn’t have asked for a better start when Tilly Lucas-Rodd kicked their third goal to give them a sniff.
A Caitlin Greiser goal with 11-minutes to play had St Kilda within three points and dreaming of a first win for the season.
Brisbane managed to stem the momentum and surge the ball forward but only came away with one point before the Saints had one last forward thrust.
A mark and long kick from the middle of the ground by Greiser sent the Saints inside 50 but they couldn’t get a clean shot on goal, with Brisbane’s desperate defence holding on for an important four premiership points.
Phillips was everywhere
Catherine Phillips is averaging a career high 16 disposals per game this season – she had that by halftime.
Phillips’ work rate stood out in the sweltering conditions as she worked up and down Trevor Barker Beach Oval to impact at both ends of the ground and provide a crucial link in between.
The 30-year-old finished with a game-high 20 disposals, five intercepts and two clearances.
No one gains more territory for their side than Orla O’Dwyer, and the hardworking winger was at it again.
The Lions stumbled out of the blocks but got their running game going in the second quarter, and it was the 23-year-old who was the catalyst.
O’Dwyer had 10 disposals and 270m gained to halftime, before finishing with 18 disposals and 347m gained.
Unwanted Lions record
Brisbane became the first side to kick 11 straight behinds in AFLW history.
The reigning premiers failed to register a goal in the first half, kicking nine behinds, before opening the third quarter with another two behinds.
Their accuracy ended up being the 12th worst recorded in an AFLW game.
SAINTS 2.0 2.1 2.1 4.2 (26)
LIONS 0.4 0.9 3.11 3.13 (31)
Saints: Lucas-Rodd, Phillips, Priest, Jakobsson.
Lions: O’Dwyer, Hickie, Bates, Conway, Dawes.
Saints: Xenos 2, Lucas-Rodd, Greiser.
Lions: Yoshida-Martin, Body, Conway.
Venue: Trevor Barker Beach Oval
JAMES MOTTERSHEAD’S VOTES
3 — O’Dwyer (BRIS)
2 — Lucas-Rodd (STK)
1 — Hickie (BRIS)
Blues take another hit as injury adds to woes in west
Carlton is sweating on the fitness of star midfielder Madison Prespakis, who left Fremantle Oval in an ambulance after Saturday’s 42-point loss to Fremantle.
The 21-year old two-time All Australian and AFLW best-and-fairest winner copped a hard hit to the back during a contest in the last quarter.
While she left the ground and spent some time in the hands of trainers, Prespakis returned to the field and played out the remainder of the contest.
Coach Daniel Harford was yet to speak to the club’s medical staff when he fronted the media after the game, but said he thought they were taking a precautionary approach with the star.
“Mads has been taken for scans … she’s being assessed,” he said. “She came off and went back on, but is being assessed.
“She was pretty tough in that last couple of minutes, I reckon.
“The fact she went back out is very positive, and she put her body on the line a few times. I think it is precautionary for a player we need to have up and about for the remainder of the season.”
If Prespakis is sidelined for any period, it would be a cruel blow for the Blues, who were just starting to get their best team on the park.
Saturday’s game against the Dockers was the first time this season Harford has had Prepakis, Mimi Hill, Grace Egan and ruck Breann Moody playing in the midfield together.
Hill finished with 25 touches, a week after winning NAB Rising Star nomination in her return match from an ACL, Egan had 22, Prespakis 19 and Moody had 29 hit-outs and was clearly the dominant ruck on the ground.
While the scoreboard finished one-sided in favour of the Dockers, the Blues looked the better team in the first half, keeping Fremantle to just two goals.
Carlton finished the game with a 105-98 advantage in contested possessions, winning a category they had received criticism for in the past few weeks.
Harford said being able to keep consistency at the selection table was crucial to the improvement of the Blues.
“That’s the thing we want to see … chemistry with combinations of players and that is the first time we have seen that quartet on ball together this season for varied reasons,” he said.
“We have taken a back step to grow, in terms of what we have bought into the club. But in terms of getting them together … anyone who has played footy knows that the more you play with someone, the more you understand them and the more the cohesion is.
“That’s one of our key growth areas.”
As the Blues leave a month where they have played four of the game’s top teams – Fremantle, Brisbane, Adelaide and North Melbourne – it would be a cruel blow if Prespakis was now sidelined, robbing them of a chance to build on that midfield chemistry.
Carlton will return from Perth and will host bottom side, St Kilda, next Saturday at Ikon Park.
Blues’ defiant stand quickly snuffed out in west
There is no place like home.
Fremantle enjoyed its long-awaited homecoming on Saturday afternoon, demolishing Carlton by 42 points.
Thanks to the easing of some Covid-19 restrictions by the WA Government, the Dockers were back at Fremantle Oval for the first time since their Round 1 Derby win over West Coast on 8 January.
They trailed the Blues by two points at quarter-time, but then started to feed off the local support.
The Dockers took control the game, especially after halftime, winning 7.9 (51) to 1.3 (9).
Carlton looked up to the challenge early, hoping to make the most of Fremantle losing its first game of the season a week earlier, by 10 points to North Melbourne in Hobart.
But despite a bold early showing, the gulf between the two sides started to show and scoring opportunities for the visitors dropped away.
The Blues managed only one behind after quarter-time; well after the opening few minutes of the game.
It ends a tough month for them, with games against top ranked sides, Brisbane, North Melbourne, Adelaide and the Dockers, losing all four by an average margin of 37 points.
Back on the board
The Dockers have not looked the best when moving the ball forward in the past few weeks.
They managed fewer than one goal a term in the past two games. They kicked a total of five goals over their previous eight quarters before Saturday.
They hit top form in the third term against the Blues, putting four goals on the board for the quarter.
That was when Hayley Miller (24 Possessions) and Laura Pugh (15) took control of the run of play.
The margin was only 18 points midway through the term before the Blues Elise O’Dea stepped over the mark, giving away a 50m penalty and handing Mikayla Hyde a certain goal.
A couple of minutes later Mikayla Morrison ran onto a loose ball to kick her third goal for the game and second for the term.
Morrison was playing just her third game and hadn’t kicked a goal before Saturday.
Star on the rise
Fremantle gun Kiara Bowers may be sidelined, but there was no lack of star quality on Fremantle Oval.
And none were better than Carlton’s Mimi Hill.
Fresh off her NAB Rising Star nomination from the Blues Round 5 loss to Adelaide, and in only her second game back from a knee injury, she was outstanding.
She finished with 25 touches, supported well by Madison Prespakis, who was forced from the ground in the last term after copping a crude hit to the back. She did return to the ground and was able to finish playing out the game.
Taking up the early challenge
Carlton’s intensity was challenged going into this game and the Blues responded to the criticism.
They dominated the opening stages of the game, with strong tackling and an appetite to win the ball at the content.
Hill, fresh off her NAB Rising Star nomination from Round 5 and in only her second game back from a knee injury, was outstanding.
Following on from her 26-possession game against Adelaide in Round 5, she had 10 touches in the first term against the Dockers.
In attack, Darcy Vescio, was dangerous.
She kicked the first goal of the game within a couple of minutes; was wayward with a second shot and hit the post with her third — all before the Dockers managed a scoring shot.
The Blues averaged only 25 inside 50 entries in their first five games of the season and had nine in the opening term against Fremantle.
The Blues should have led more that the eight-point they got in front.
Carlton had 20 possessions more than the Dockers in the opening term.
They led contested possessions by two at the first break, but the momentum did start to change just before the break.
DOCKERS 1.0 2.1 6.2 7.9 (51)
BLUES 1.2 1.2 1.2 1.3 (9)
Dockers: Miller, Morrison, O’Sullivan, Pugh, O’Dricoll.
Blues: Hill, Prespakis, Egan, Moody, Vescio.
Dockers: Morrison 3; Hyde 2; Stewart, K Antonio.
Dockers: Roux (hamstring).
Blues: Prespakis (back).
Adams, Fry, Jones.
2524 at Fremantle Oval
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
BRAD ELBOROUGH’S VOTES
3 Miller (FRE)
2 Hill (CAR)
1 Morrison (FRE)
HARRIS NOW THREE TIMES THE PLAYER AT DEES
Melbourne taught GWS a footballing lesson as they put the Giants to the sword by 37-points to stay in touch with the AFLW pacesetters.
The Giants were embarrassed as they failed to kick a score until the 15-minute mark of the last quarter.
It was their lowest score in AFLW, surpassing a previous low of nine points, which they have kicked three times.
The Dees ran riot as they made the most of a percentage boosting opportunity on the back of their star-studded forward line.
Blustery conditions favoured neither team but wreaked havoc on ball movement as both sides struggled to find any penetration going forward early in the first quarter.
A free kick to Daisy Pearce handed the Dees the first big opportunity in front of goal and the veteran made the most of it from 20m out.
Melbourne had the ascendancy in general play and when Lily Mithen took advantage from a free kick and placed the perfect kick in front of Kate Hore just 15m from goal the Dees had their second.
The second quarter devolved into a contested scrap as both sides struggled to move the ball into dangerous positions.
It was a style that suited Alyce Parker down to the ground as she tried to drag her team forward with a game-high 18 disposals, 236m gained, four tackles and 4 clearances.
The third quarter lacked the goalmouth action fans were clamouring for as two quarters passed without a goal.
Thankfully Shelley Scott won a free kick as the siren sounded and went back and broke the goal drought with a classy finish from 25m.
Tyla Hanks worked her way into the game after missing the Dees’ previous game because of health and safety protocols and by three-quarter time was up to 18 disposals, 289m gained and four tackles.
The blue and red party started in the last quarter as Tayla Harris kicked two goals to take her to the top of the AFLW goalkicking charts, while Hore added her second with a sharp snap to give the Dees a 44-point lead.
The Giants finally got on the scoreboard with just minutes to play thanks to a Jess Doyle goal, but they were embarrassed by the Dees who taught them a footballing lesson.
Bannan makes it count
At quarter time Lily Mithen had the most touches on the ground with nine, as well as the most metres gained — 143m.
Alyssa Bannan had just one touch, but she made the most of it, accumulating 101m gained, the next most behind Mithen.
It was thanks to a barnstorming run down the outer wing of Casey Fields, which included four bounces before a long ping at goals bounced across the face of goal for a throw-in.
Giant scoreboard struggle
The Giants failed to kick a single score in the first half for the second time this season, and it extended to the first three quarters in a worrying trend for GWS.
While they limited damage at the other end, the Giants only managed a miserly five inside 50s for the entire half and didn’t look like hitting the scoreboard due to scrappy entries.
Their scoring woes will need to be addressed by Alan McConnell as they also failed to kick a goal in the last three quarters of their Rd 2 match.
Harris salutes … again
Tayla Harris has kicked a goal in every game this season, just one of three players who has done so.
Her two goals also have her in the lead for most goals in AFLW this season, going past Adelaide’s Ashleigh Woodland.
Harris has formed a formidable forward trio with Pearce and Hore, who have combined for 24 goals between them.
DEMONS 2.2 2.3 3.8 6.8 (44)
GIANTS 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.1 (7)
Demons: Paxman, Hore, Harris, Hanks, West, Mithen. Giants: Parker, Eva, Dallaway.
Demons: Harris 2, Hore 2, D. Pearce, Scott. Giants: Doyle.
Demons: nil. Giants: McKinnon (head).
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
JAMES MOTTERSHEAD’S VOTES
3 K. Paxman (MELB)
2 K. Hore (MELB)
1 T. Harris (MELB)
RIDDELL ME NOT: STAR WE SHOULD ALL BE TALKING ABOUT
The North Melbourne juggernaut rolls on.
Darren Crocker’s Kangaroos flexed their muscles after Richmond skipper Katie Brennan – against the breeze – pulled her Tigers within five points in the early stages of the second half.
North’s one-two punch of Jasmine Garner and Ash Riddell, who won 18 of her game-high 29 disposals in the second half, proved a class above as the Roos cantered away to a 5.7 (37) to 2.6 (18) triumph.
The Kangaroos are now one of only three teams with five wins for the season, joining undefeated Adelaide and Fremantle at the top of the ladder.
Richmond defied a lopsided inside-50 count until the third term, in large part because of in-form defender Rebecca Miller and Sarah D’Arcy, but there was an inevitability about the result.
What was a manageable deficit suddenly blew out when Sophie Abbatangelo snapped truly, then the tough Daria Bannister converted a set shot after leaving the ground in the first quarter following a heavy hit.
Bannister and Daisy Bateman (ankle) both returned after potential game-ending injuries.
Neither side kicked a goal in the final term, with the Abbatangelo and Bannister goals effectively ending the plucky Tigers’ resistance despite them having the aid of the wind at the end.
North Melbourne terrorised Richmond with intense tackle pressure, particularly in its attacking 50, with Mia King (six tackles), Garner (five) and Jenna Bruton (five) contributing as much as anyone.
Garner (26, one goal, seven clearances) was best afield again, a week after scoring a maximum 10 coaches’ votes as the Roos inflicted the Dockers’ first defeat of the season.
Only the relentless Riddell could challenge her for that honour, but they were far from the only influential North players.
Tahlia Randall was again a reliable target up forward, while Emma Kearney (21) worked her way into the contest, Ellie Gavalas (19) was good from go-to-whoa and Bruton (18) added offence to her defensive pressure.
This was never supposed to be a competitive match on paper, given the Tigers started the afternoon with one victory from five games.
They also lost Laura McClelland (syndesmosis) and Hannah Burchell (ACL) to season-ending injuries last week.
But coach Ryan Ferguson would be pleased with the way they fought, including Monique Conti, who finished with 25 disposals after having only nine to halftime.
TIGERS 0.1 1.3 2.3 2.6 (18)
KANGAROOS 1.2 3.2 5.5 5.7 (37)
BEST Tigers: Miller, Conti, Brennan, D’Arcy, McKenzie, Seymour Kangaroos: Garner, Riddell, Gavalas, Randall, Kearney, Bruton
GOALS Tigers: Yassir, Brennan Kangaroos: Randall, M. King, Garner, Abbatangelo, Bannister
INJURIES Tigers: Nil Kangaroos: Bateman (ankle)
Punt Road Oval
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
MARC McGOWAN’S VOTES
3 J. Garner (NM)
2 A. Riddell (NM)
1 R. Miller (Rich)
SUNS ECLIPSE CATS AS RECORDS TUMBLE
— James Mottershead
Gold Coast has staked its claim as a finals contender after breezing past Geelong by 11 points on the back of its highest AFLW score.
The Suns, who didn’t win a game last season, remarkably sit only percentage outside the top six with four rounds to play and got there in style, surpassing their previous highest score by three points.
In a night of records for the Suns, Alison Drennan, who was easily best on ground, had 30 disposals, the most ever for Gold Coast.
Both sides’ modus operandi this season has been to flood numbers around the ball and play a heavily contested brand, but despite a high tackle number it was one of the best scoring games of the season.
Stream every match of the 2022 NAB AFLW Season Live & On-Demand on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-days free now.
The Cats jumped out of the blocks with sharp disposal and transition helping them to an early two goals through Kate Darby and Zali Friswell.
Geelong flooded everyone back after they went two goals up resulting in a game of kick-to-kick for about five minutes, but a 50m penalty to Lauren Bella in the shadows of quarter time undid the Cats’ defensive work and handed the Suns a well-deserved first goal.
Gold Coast was able to stop Geelong’s sporadic attacks in the second quarter and maintained its dominance around the ground, but unlike the first quarter they capitalised in front of goal.
Tara Bohanna perfectly read the ball off a pack to snap the Suns’ second and give them the lead, while Tori Groves-Little was the most exciting player on the ground in the quarter and capped off their work with a goal.
It gave the Suns a handy nine-point lead at the main break.
The Suns turned up the heat and put together one of their most dominant quarters in AFLW history in the third term, kicking 3.3 to put the game out of reach of Geelong.
So good was the Suns’ display they had recorded their second-highest score in AFLW history by the time the siren sounded to end the third quarter.
Goals to Jamie Stanton, Groves-Little and Ellie Hampson capped off the free-flowing ball movement and clearance work up the ground.
A last quarter surge from the Cats added respectability to the scoreboard with three goals, but they were never really in it after they kicked the first two of the game.
With the Suns itching at the opportunity to rise into the top six, the Cats needed the perfect start to the game.
Chloe Scheer delivered it with a perfect pass to Kate Darby for the first goal.
Scheer was awarded a down field free kick 55m from goal, and rather than bomb her kick to the top of the goalsquare she placed it into a small pocket of space where only Darby could mark.
A few minutes later the Cats thrust forward again through Scheer who again picked the perfect option in Zali Friswell who kicked Geelong’s second.
Two bests one
Georgie Prespakis took bragging rights over last year’s number one draft pick Charlie Rowbottom with a commanding midfield performance.
Last year’s second selection at the draft lined up on Rowbottom at the first bounce, giving fans exactly what they wanted.
But Rowbottom, who has enjoyed an outstanding debut season, was beaten by midfield bull Prespakis.
Prespakis finished with 17 disposals, six tackles and six clearances, while Rowbottom managed 15 disposals, five tackles and four clearances.
Scoring flows, scoring woes
After kicking two goals in the first eight minutes of the game it looked like the Cats were set for a big night of scoring. But that was as good as it got for the next two quarters of football as Geelong didn’t register another score until the 10-minute mark of the third term.
Conversely the Suns kicked their highest ever score, surpassing their Round 2 total of 46 by three points.
SUNS 1.3 3.3 6.6 7.7 49
CATS 2.0 2.0 3.0 6.2 38
Suns: Drennan, Hampson, Whitford, Surman, Groves-Little.
Cats: Prespakis, Morrison, Emonson, McWilliams.
Suns: Groves-Little 2, Bella, Bohanna, Stanton, Hampson, Surman.
Cats: McWilliams 2, Scheer 2, Darby, Friswell.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
JAMES MOTTERSHEAD’S VOTES
3 A. Drennan (GC)
2 E. Hampson (GC)
1 C. Whitford (GC)