Gold Coast SUNS has kept touch with the top eight with a strong win over Sydney in wet, heavy conditions on Saturday afternoon.
In the wet of Sydney's Henson Park, Gold Coast took charge right from the opening siren to claim a 34-point victory, 7.7 (49) to the Swans' 2.3 (15).
The Swans came out with a real intent to pressure the ball carrier and improve their contested game, laying 61 tackles to 55, but the class and speed of the SUNS rose above.
Gold Coast was clean and quick out of stoppages, finding space and gaining territory with ease and in turn exposing Sydney's inability to clear its defensive 50.
The SUNS were far more reliable at getting first hands on the ball, winning the centre clearance count nine to two, which often resulted in the Swans trailing their direct opponents.
The SUNS won 54 more disposals than their opponents as they consistently found outlets away from the contest thanks to an impressive ability to cover the ground.
In the second quarter, the home side did find some territory control thanks to some excellent forward pressure but were unable to make the most of it on the scoreboard, kicking just one behind for the term.
The visitors dominated the air, enjoying a height advantage across much of the ground, and even when unable to take the mark they often brought it to ground for teammates to gather and find separation.
Around the ball, SUNS trio Alison Drennan, Charlie Rowbottom and Claudia Whitfort had a day out. The top three clearance winners on the ground, they expertly moved from inside the contest to outside space to really stretch Sydney's midfield group.
On a tough day, Sofia Hurley and Lisa Steane's pressure was important for the Swans. Hurley laid 10 tackles in a tireless effort, meanwhile it was Steane's workrate around the ground that Sydney really missed when she was forced to leave the ground with a head knock after a slinging tackle from Lucy Single.
Bec Privitelli was once again Sydney's most dangerous forward, kicking two goals to take her season tally to five, while also providing a link into attack when pushing up the field.
Gold Coast midfielder Ellie Hampson may come under MRO scrutiny for a first-quarter bump laid on Privitelli, which saw Hampson's shoulder appearing to make contact with Privitelli's head. The Swan left the ground for the remainder of the term but was back for the start of the second.
The battle of the No.1 draft picks
The last two No.1 draft picks, Gold Coast's Charlie Rowbottom and Sydney's Montana Ham put on a show, presenting the new archetypal AFLW midfielder. Each standing at 179cm tall and with breakaway power, the young pair didn't necessarily go head-to-head, but each had critical moments through the game and showed what fans of the competition have to look forward to in the years to come.
Viv Saad, brick wall
Coming off a career-best game, Vivien Saad lost no momentum as Gold Coast's defensive anchor. Playing a very disciplined role, Saad sat a kick behind the play and exploited Sydney's rushed kicks into attack. Off the back of that, she won 10 intercepts and used her 12 disposals at 83.3 per cent efficiency. Not only was she a reliable intercept marker, but her speed at ground level exposed the lack of speed and agility from the Swans' tall contingent.
Sydney will travel to Melbourne to take on fellow expansion side Essendon in a Pride Round doubleheader at Ikon Park on Saturday afternoon, while Gold Coast will host a tough Melbourne outfit at Metricon Stadium later that evening.
SYDNEY 1.0 1.1 2.2 2.3 (15)
GOLD COAST 2.3 4.5 6.6 7.7 (49)
Sydney: Privitelli 2
Gold Coast: Dupuy 2, Jones 2, Bohanna, Whitfort, Meyer
Sydney: Hurley, Ham, Steane, Privitelli
Gold Coast: Rowbottom, Drennan, Whitfort, Saad
Sydney: Steane (head knock)
Gold Coast: Nil
Crowd: TBC at Henson Park