Gold Coast gave Greater Western Sydney an almighty scare in torrid conditions at Blacktown International Sportspark on Saturday, narrowly missing their first AFLW win in a trying battle.
With heavy rain sweeping across the state of New South Wales throughout the weekend, the Giants got the better of a hard-fought slog, 1.3 (9) to 1.2 (8).
While the Giants attacked early, the SUNS looked just as dangerous on the counter. Brittany Perry kicked the club's first ever AFLW goal, as the visitors claimed the lead at the first change.
It proved a crucial buffer, as the expected rain soon began to tumble over Blacktown. That subsequently brought a scrappier and more contested clash, making it easier for Gold Coast's inexperienced back six to hold firm against a wave of GWS attacks.
The result was an entire half of frustration for the goalless Giants, before Schmidt eventually broke the deadlock when she registered her side's first and only goal for the afternoon 11 minutes into the third term.
It swung the momentum of the match, with a tiring and youthful Gold Coast side suddenly unable to transition the ball as effectively as it was throughout the opening stages of the clash.
In wet and windy conditions, a scoreless final term then ensued, with the Giants retaining a narrow one-point margin for over a quarter of football to secure a valuable victory.
One for the history books…
etched her name in the SUNS history books in the first quarter, kicking the first ever AFLW goal for the SUNS. To top it all off, it was against her old team.
The SUNS had 10 AFLW debutants on field; Lauren Ahrens, Jade Pregelj, Lexi Hamilton, Cheyenne Hammond, Dee Heslop, Jordann Hickey, Kalinda Howarth, Molly Ritson, Kate Surman and Serene Watson. They more then held their own against more experienced opposition and showed they belong at the highest level.
From the rooms
In his post-match address, Senior Coach David Lake said he couldn't fault the team's effort and intent in challenging conditions. While the tackle count was a good indication to how hard the team worked in the wet, Lake said he was pleased with how his team still attacked the game and played to their strengths.
The SUNS didn't have the same amount of experience that three years in the AFLW competition brings, but proved they were up for the fight. It was a fierce contest at times and Gold Coast will take plenty of confidence from the match into Round 2.
Greater Western Sydney heads south to face North Melbourne in Launceston next Saturday afternoon, while Gold Coast sets itself for its first ever AFLW home match at Metricon Stadium against Richmond on Saturday evening.
GWS Giants: Parker, Zreika, Privitelli, Eva, Tully, Staunton
Gold Coast: Stanton, Virgo, Yorston, Dunn, Ahrens