Sydney’s remarkable AFLW transformation continues, going from zero to elimination final heroes with a pulsating upset win over Gold Coast.
After a winless debut season, the Swans will now meet Adelaide in a semi-final after beating the Suns 9.4 (58) to 6.5 (41) on Saturday night away at Heritage Bank Stadium.
Sydney midfielder Laura Gardiner shook off Lucy Single’s tag to rack up a game-high 30 disposals, including seven clearances, while co-captain Chloe Molloy kicked three goals in the Swans’ finals debut.
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Trailing by four goals at three-quarter time, the Suns threw everything at the Swans and Sydney went goalless in the final term.
Gold Coast enjoyed 17 inside 50s to four in the final quarter, but could only manage 1.2.
It was a tackling masterclass from Sydney, with 105 to 66, as Sofia Hurley racked up 16 for the Swans.
Aliesha Newman celebrates a goal for the Swans. Credit: DAVE HUNT/AAPIMAGE
Sydney suffered an early blow when Bec Privitelli, who kicked their opening goal, limped off in the first quarter with a lower leg injury.
Privitelli did not return, putting her in doubt for next weekend’s semi-final against the minor premiers.
Gold Coast captain Tara Bohanna kicked the opening goal of the game and went on to boot the first goal in the next two quarters as well.
But after dominating the start of the contest, the Suns were overwhelmed as Sydney kicked the next four majors and raced to a 20-point lead at quarter time.
Bohanna kicked the first two goals of the second term, reducing the margin to only eight points, but again Sydney took control and had a 26-point lead at the main break.
That would prove critical, with the Suns lifting in the second half and matching Sydney’s pressure.
Single in particular was prominent through the third quarter as the Suns challenged Sydney.
But Cynthia Hamilton’s snapped goal on the back of outstanding forward pressure just before three-quarter time proved a dagger through the Suns’ heart.
Sydney took a four-goal lead into the last term and that was enough as they withstood relentless Gold Coast attacks.
Just as Molloy shone for the Swans, fellow captain Lucy McEvoy cleverly came up from defence and kicked two goals in the opening term.
Before Saturday night, McEvoy had slotted just seven goals in her 40-plus game AFLW career.
Teammate Aimee Whelan also kicked her first AFLW goal late in the second quarter.
Gold Coast ruck Lauren Bella gave her midfielders plenty of delivery, racking up a whopping 42 hitouts – no other player had more than nine.
Alison Drennan battled hard and had a team-high 22 possessions for Gold Coast, while Single racked up 17 and Bohanna kicked a game-high four goals.
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