The Gold Coast SUNS have come agonisingly close to claiming a first win of the 2021 NAB AFLW season, going down to West Coast by one point at Mineral Resources Park on Sunday.
The SUNS had 67% of the game played in their forward half and created numerous scoring opportunities, but were unable to capitalise as West Coast hung on for 5.4 (34) to 4.9 (33) win.
Kalinda Howarth drew the SUNS within two points with an acrobatic scissor kick with the ball in mid-air to set up a thrilling final two minutes.
Jamie Stanton's snap with 90 seconds remaining bounced the wrong side of the post for the visitors and that was to be their last chance.
Alison Drennan was tireless in the midfield with 14 disposals, 11 tackles and four clearances in a valiant display.
The SUNS will be kicking themselves for missing so many opportunities throughout the match.
They won the inside 50 count 34-20 – and led that statistic 22-4 at half-time – but lacked the polish to convert when it counted.
Stanton (14 disposals and 1.3) was magnificent, as was reliable defender Lauren Ahrens (19 touches and 462m gained), who repelled the Eagles regularly.
Mikayla Bowen, who was brilliant all day for the victors, looked to have iced the win with her clever goal midway through the fourth quarter, but the SUNS never relented.
Did you see that?
It's been a quiet season to date for All-Australian forward Kalinda Howarth, but the flashy SUN announced herself with a bang late in the match. With her team trailing by eight points and time running out, Sally Riley took a shot on the run from 40m that was bobbling towards the goal-line. Howarth acrobatically scissor-kicked the ball from mid-air just as Eagle Maddy Collier attempted to touch it through.
If bad kicking is bad football, the Suns didn't deserve to win, despite their dominance in inside 50s. While the Eagles made the most of their attacking forays, David Lake's team simply frittered theirs away. Madison Levi (who was exceptional in general play) will rue some early set shot misses, while captain Hannah Dunn will wish she could have her shot back from 15m out that was touched by the player standing the mark. A little more composure and the Suns could have snatched victory.
"I thought it was the first time for four quarters we actually had a crack as good as that. We worked harder for longer. We just weren't able to take our chances. We needed to start somewhere, and we were hoping today was our place to get a start. It's funny, one point can define how you feel about yourself." – Gold Coast coach David Lake
Gold Coast will be on the road for a fifth straight match when it travels to Adelaide to play the red-hot Crows at Norwood Oval on Saturday at 4.40pm ACDT.
WEST COAST 3.1 3.1 4.3 5.4 (34)
GOLD COAST 0.4 1.5 3.7 4.9 (33)
West Coast: Bowen, Cameron, Caulfield, G.Kelly, Orme
Gold Coast: Howarth, Parker, Perkins, Stanton
West Coast: Bowen, Swanson, G.Kelly, Collier, Lewis, Perera
Gold Coast: Ahrens, Stanton, Surman, Single, Bella, Drennan
West Coast: Bresland (hamstring), Cameron (leg)
Gold Coast: Perkins (knee)
West Coast: Aisling McCarthy (knee) replaced in the selected side by Kate Orme
Gold Coast: Leah Kaslar (ankle) replaced in the selected side by Georgia Bevan