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- West Coast invaded Port Adelaide in AFLW debut, North Melbourne make first statement against Gold Coast
West Coast invaded Port Adelaide in AFLW debut, North Melbourne make first statement against Gold Coast
Star Port Adelaide rookie Erin Phillips had a quiet debut display for his new club as West Coast produced a remarkable last-quarter flurry to snatch a 12-point AFLW victory.
- West Coast scored four unanswered goals to beat Port Adelaide in Power’s first AFLW game
- Port trailed 11 points at final change but couldn’t hang on
- North Melbourne beat Gold Coast by 26 points in a win that will put the league on alert
The Power were on course to mark their AFLW debut with victory on Saturday afternoon after scoring four unanswered goals in the second and third terms to open a 12-point lead.
But West Coast turned things around in the final quarter, with last season’s wooden spoons scoring four unanswered goals to secure the 6.4 (40) 4.4 (28) victory at Lathlain Park in Perth.
Ireland’s Aisling McCarthy started the late onslaught by selling the dummy to two port defenders before kicking the pocket square.
Mikayla Western, Aimee Schmidt and Kate Bartlett followed it up with goals as the Eagles ran away with the win.
Phillips, a three-time flag winner in Adelaide, had just two possessions in the first half, and the new Port skipper finished the game with 10 eliminations and three clearances.
Former Docker Gemma Houghton (10 transfers, one goal) was prominent early on before fading in the second half, but had the honor of scoring Port Adelaide’s first-ever goal in the competition.
West Coast striker Kellie Gibson suffered what appeared to be a serious knee injury less than a minute after scoring the game’s opening goal.
Gibson, who won a flag with the Crows in 2017, celebrated wildly after kicking really 35 yards from a tricky angle in the first quarter.
But on the next center rebound, Gibson collapsed to the grass after her left knee was hyperextended as she battled for the ball.
Eagles captain Emma Swanson had 21 takedowns and seven clearances in an all-star display, while McCarthy (18 possessions, six clearances, one goal) was also critical.
Northern open campaign with big win over Suns
Meanwhile, it was a game to savor for North Melbourne superstars Jasmine Garner and Emma Kearney, who both starred in the AFLW’s 26-point comprehensive win over Gold Coast.
Garner (27 eliminations, one goal, seven clearances, six inside 50s) dominated in midfield to be best on the ground, while captain Kearney (17 touches) was superb at half-back in the Kangaroos’ 6.4 (40) to 2.2 (14) triumph Saturday afternoon.
Tahlia Randall, who scored the three best career goals, was the main beneficiary of the exploits of Garner and Kearney.
The Suns staved off the first score of the game when vice-captain Jamie Stanton broke a behind in the opening minutes, but they were forced to wait until the final five minutes of the game before scoring their next point.
In the meantime, the Kangas have gone wild.
Gold Coast ruck Lauren Bella routinely got his hands on the foot first on hits, but North midfielders, led by Garner, cut a strip once the ball hit the deck on saves .
Leading by 12 points in the quarter, armed with a 10-2 advantage inside 50 seconds, the Kangaroos were even more dominant in the second term with a 26-point lead at halftime.
Randall netted a pass from Garner and hit her third early in the season, which was followed by debutant Sophia McCarthy who threw the first of her career as the home side in Hobart took a 39-point lead in three quarters of the time.
With just a single point on the board, Gold Coast risked creating unwanted records.
The lowest score in AFLW history – 0.2 (2) jointly held by the Suns against Brisbane in 2021 and St Kilda against Carlton last season – was in danger of being shattered.
To their credit, the Suns showed pride by uplifting noticeably in the fourth term.
Stanton converted a free-kick for Gold Coast’s late opener with just over three minutes remaining before Kalinda Howarth’s mark and goal in the final 60 seconds limited some of the earlier damage.