Geelong’s winless 2021 has continued as GWS kept their slim finals hopes alive in a gutsy seven-point win on the road.
The Giants were led brilliantly by star midfielder Alyce Parker (25 disposals, five inside 50s) who continued her stellar campaign and helped the visitors wrestle control in the second lowest scoring game in AFLW history.
Parker said post-game that she felt her side were unable to match the Cats’ ferocious start around the contest.
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“I think the first-half we were second to the ball, so our contested numbers were a bit down,” Parker told Fox Footy.
“Second half we brought it to them and we played tough and we were first to the footy which is why we held on.”
Both sides were unable to gain any ascendancy early in a hotly contested opening quarter, as Haneen Zreika and former Giant Phoebe McWilliams traded scores at either end.
The Cats midfield were matching the Giants strong in-and-under game throughout the opening half but were unable to cap off the superb work of both Amy and Meghan McDonald on the scoreboard.
Ever-green Giants forward Cora Staunton continued to showcase her class in-front of goal slotting home her first to give GWS a slender lead at the major break which turned to be the eventual match-winner.
Desperate defending from Maddy McMahon kept Geelong in the game despite going scoreless in the third as the Giants took over in the middle.
However, their forward-line couldn’t create any breathing space from their gutsy opponents as Zreika in particular missed a golden opportunity from point-blank range.
As both sides began to tire, chances were at the premium in the final term as Rochelle Cranston’s late burst came without the reward as the Giants defence held firm late.
Unfortunately for the Cats, the loss was compounded by Denby Taylor succumbing to a nasty looking shoulder injury in the first-term.
GWS will need to beat Carlton next week by a healthy margin along with a multitude of other factors to go their way in order to keep their finals hopes alive.
GIANTS FINALS HOPES ALIVE?
Where there is a will, there’s a way.
GWS’ second straight win has kept their slimmest of finals hopes alive as they close the gap to only four points from sixth placed Melbourne.
However, their low percentage and reliance on a series of different factors means the chances of sneaking in are extremely unlikely heading into their final game against fellow four-win side Carlton – who are also looking to sneak in.
CATS FIERY RESPONSE
2021 has not been an easy season for Geelong.
Following yet another sapping defeat to the Eagles on Monday, the Cats’ response was evident matching GWS’ ferocious effort around the contest – tallying 66 tackles to GWS’ 53 for the game.
Despite the loss, Paul Hood can take a lot of positives heading into their final game against fellow winless side Gold Coast next-week as both sides look to end the season on a high.
Haneen Zreika is going to be featured on plenty of highlight reels for years to come.
The 21-year-old was her ever dangerous self, cleverly slotting a goal from a tight angle to kick the Giants’ first of the game while being a constant threat up forward.
We can expect more of those brilliant finishes as she continues to grow into one of the competition’s most electric small forwards.
Adding to the occasion, Zreika’s family attended the game and created a little fan-club for the Giants forward.
“It means the world to me to do what I love and have the support of my family,” Zreika told Fox Footy after the game.
CATS: 1.1, 1.2, 1.2, 1.3 (9)
GIANTS: 1.1, 2.1, 2.4, 2.4 (16)
Cats: A.McDonald, M.McDonald, McMahon, Crockett-Grills, Gardiner, Webster
Giants: Taylor, Bennetts, Beeson, Staunton, Eva, Zreika, Tully
Giants: Zreika, Staunton
Cats: Taylor (shoulder)
Giants: Tully (sling tackle)
Venue: GMHBA Stadium
VESCIO’S FANTASTIC FIVE KEEPS BLUES IN FINALS HUNT
Carlton star Darcy Vescio kept the Blues in the hunt for an AFLW finals berth with an outstanding individual performance in the 60-point win over the Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium on Friday night.
Vescio booted five goals in a forward master class to go to the top of the competition’s goalkicking standings for 2021 while also surpassing Adelaide’s Erin Phillips as the AFLW’s all-time leading goal kicker.
Carlton’s total of 13.9 (87) was the highest ever score in an AFL game. The Blues now need to beat GWS next week and hope for a series of results to go their way if they are to play finals after Vescio did everything in her power to keep Carlton’s hopes afloat.
After the Suns kicked the first three goals of the match, Vescio kicked the next three herself to drag the Blues back into the contest and she continued to terrorise the Gold Coast.
Whether it was strong contested marks, sure set shots, clever snaps or working up the ground to create chances for teammates, Vescio was everywhere, doing everything. Her mark at the start of the fourth quarter was the highlight.
With a bit of luck, she could have had seven goals to her name.
Carlton started the match two wins and almost 28 per cent (108) behind the sixth-placed Melbourne. The Blues are now 4-4 after recording their biggest-ever AFLW win.
The Suns crumbled to their eighth loss from eight outings as they ran out of petrol after such a promising opening quarter.
Vescio kicked her fourth goal at the start of the third term and further majors to Lucy McEvoy, Nicola Stevens, Brooke Walker and Lauren Brazzale gave Carlton a commanding 33-point lead at the last change.
Carlton led by two points at halftime after a seesawing opening two quarters. The Suns got off to a red-hot start and established a 19-0 buffer after goals to Sam Virgo, Maddison Levi and Alison Drennan.
The Gold Coast were on top in contested possessions and tackles to highlight their early intent but Carlton stopped the rot with Vescio’s first goal late in the first quarter as the Suns took a 19-7 cushion into quarter-time.
Vescio continued her one-woman rampage after the break with two more goals including one major from a left-foot dribble kick under extreme pressure.
FADE OUT COULD PROVE COSTLY
The fourth quarter fade out against Freo could haunt Carlton for a long time. The Blues led the Dockers by 15 points with four minutes to play on Sunday but conceded three goals in a minute to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. What they would give to have that four minutes over again. They could miss the finals by the solitary win.
HORROR SEASON CONTINUES
The Suns are a young group who have had to endure a horror fixture in 2021 with five away games in a row but they have gone backwards after two wins and a draw in 2020. Eight losses from eight starts in 2021 is a disappointing result given the rays of sunshine in their debut campaign. They take on the winless Cats at Metricon Stadium next weekend to avoid the wooden spoon.
GOAL OF THE YEAR?
The Gold Coast’s Lucy Single put her hand up for a Goal of the Year nomination with multiple touches in a sweeping movement that started on the halfback flank and finished with her calmly slotting a running shot at goal.
GOLD COAST 3.1 4.2 4.2 4.3 (27)
CARLTON 1.1 4.4 9.5 13.9 (87)
Gold Coast: Virgo, Levi, Drennan, Single
Carlton: Vescio 5, Plane 2, McEvoy, Stevens, Walker, Brazzale, O’Dea, Moody