GOLD Coast has finally broken its drought, kicking five last-quarter goals to defeat West Coast by 13 points and recording its first victory since round six, 2020.
The Suns had lost 11 games on the trot since that last win – coincidentally over the Eagles – and Sunday marked coach Cam Joyce's first lot of four points.
The first three quarters of the game were nothing to write home about – scrappy, contested with plenty of errors – but the last term is definitely one to watch on replay.
The Suns had taken a two-point lead into three-quarter time, but the Eagles looked set to break their heart with three quick goals from Mikayla Bowen, Kellie Gibson and Maddy Collier on the back of some sharp overlap run.
But this is a different Gold Coast side to the one we've seen in the past – the resolve the Suns showed was impressive, with small Kate Surman and tall Tara Bohanna the heroes, booting two and three goals respectively in a wild final seven minutes.
Emma Swanson, Dana Hooker and Aisling McCarthy were superb for the Eagles, with Bowen's second efforts throughout the game particularly noticeable.
EAGLES v SUNS Full match coverage and stats
No.1 pick Charlie Rowbottom and virtual recruit Ellie Hampson (missed most of 2021 with a foot injury) were dominant around the stoppages, while Bohanna looks to be the missing piece in attack for the Suns.
New-look Suns midfield brings the goods
Rowbottom had a cautious debut last week, feeling her way into the competition, but there was no doubting her intensity this week. Playing in the midfield, she recorded Kiara Bowers-like figures of 17 disposals, 12 tackles and three clearances. Partner in crime Hampson was a highly rated junior but has struggled for form and injury consistency at the top level. She had arguably her best AFLW game with 16 disposals and seven tackles. The pair have added immediate depth to the Suns' midfield, a problem area last year.
Bohanna proves the doubters wrong
In one of the feel-good stories for the round, former VFLW Saint Bohanna proved she belonged at AFLW level. Overlooked in last year's draft, she was given a lifeline as an injury replacement player, moving north to make her AFLW dreams come true. Her height, aerial marking skills and agility at ground level was impressive against the Eagles, let alone her three last-term goals.
Changes needed at the Eagles
Coach Michael Prior was calm and collected in his post-match presser, but didn't pull any punches, saying there were passengers in the current 21. The Eagles lost the contested footy by 14 and tackles by 16. "We've got too few carrying the load at the moment, which is disappointing. For us to be successful and have some wins on the way, we need everyone firing, and we're just not getting that at the moment. We've got too many down at the moment, and there's pressure for spots."
"We thought we were a real chance early in that last quarter. We got the ball in our front half a lot more than what we did through the course of the game – it's an area that we need to get better – and then it just turned in the second half of the quarter. They got field position, and they were able to score off the back of that." – West Coast coach Michael Prior
"Just for the girls, it's a great reward for effort. I'm really pleased for them, they've been working really hard for three or four months now, and it's just a great reward for effort. I wish I could say [I saw the change coming]. They've shown what they can do under adversity and pressure." – Gold Coast coach Cam Joyce
West Coast remain in Victoria, hosting Adelaide at the Swinburne Centre. It's an equally tough task for Gold Coast, who will take on reigning premier Brisbane at Metricon Stadium.
WEST COAST 0.0 2.0 2.2 5.3 (33)
GOLD COAST 0.2 1.4 2.4 7.4 (46)
West Coast: McCarthy, Atkins, Bowen, Gibson, Collier
Gold Coast: Bohanna 3, Surman 2, Dupuy, Perkins
West Coast: Swanson, Hooker, Bowan, Smith, McCarthy
Gold Coast: Rowbottom, Hampson, Surman, Bohanna, Stanton
West Coast: Nil
Gold Coast: Nil
Reports: Ellie Hampson (Gold Coast) for a dangerous tackle on Grace Kelly (West Coast) in the second quarter
Crowd: TBC at VU Whitten Oval