Adelaide have claimed a brilliant 10-point win over Melbourne to hand the reigning premiers their first loss of the AFLW season and take outright top spot on the ladder as the league’s only unbeaten team.
The Crows delivered a stunning run of six consecutive goals across the second and third quarters, then withstood a late Melbourne charge for an 8.8 (56) to 7.4 (46) win at Casey Fields.
The result ended Melbourne’s 14-game winning run stretching back to last season.
Superstar midfielder Ebony Marinoff led the charge for Adelaide, booting two goals from 27 disposals and laying 13 tackles, alongside Anne Hatchard (32 touches and two goals) and Danielle Ponter (two goals).
Eden Zanker booted five goals for Melbourne, almost hauling the Demons over the line.
With Paxy Paxman (concussion) sidelined, Tyla Hanks (22 touches, 12 clearances), Kate Hore (19 touches, six clearances) and Olivia Purcell got to work in midfield.
Zanker booted the first two goals of the game as Melbourne earned a 16-point quarter-time lead, with Adelaide scoreless.
Then, the Crows took off.
Ponter and Marinoff helped their side draw level at halftime as Adelaide held the Demons to their first scoreless quarter of the season.
In the third term, Melbourne had no answers for the Crows’ fierce intensity and pressure.
Hatchard went forward and put the Crows in front for the first time, before Marinoff, Eloise Jones and Ponter extended the lead to 25 – a 41-point turnaround.
Eliza McNamara scored a goal seconds before three-quarter time to cut Adelaide’s lead to 19.
Zanker took back-to-back huge contested marks and kicked truly both times to cut the deficit to seven points early in the final term.
But when Tayla Harris bumped Marinoff late as she kicked inside 50, Hatchard earned a downfield free kick and coolly converted to give the Crows some breathing room.
Melbourne hadn’t conceded a fourth-quarter goal in their previous 14 games.
McNamara and Zanker each struck again as the Demons made a late charge.
But Caitlin Gould ran into an open goal to seal victory for the Crows.
Greater Western Sydney have ended their five-game AFLW losing streak with a defiant performance to claim a comfortable 20-point win over West Coast.
The fabled ‘big, big sound’ from Sydney’s west returned on Saturday when the Giants overcame a slow start to seal a 6.8 (44) to 3.6 (24) victory over the Eagles at Blacktown and put their winless first half of the season behind them.
The ever-prolific Alyce Parker (23 disposals, 10 clearances, 16 contested possessions) was reliably prominent for the hosts, supported by Nicola Barr and Rebecca Beeson.
But it was 18-year-old Zarlie Goldsworthy who stole the show with her class.
The emerging star kicked three goals in an electric performance.
The Eagles’ own young gun Ella Roberts also shone, kickstarting the match with the opening goal.
Former Giant Aimee Schmidt backed up Roberts’ goal with one of her own to build the margin to 12 points before quarter time, but it would be the last time the visitors would slot a major until Dana Hooker’s turn in the fourth term.
While he was pleased with his side’s first-quarter performance, West Coast coach Michael Prior said a lack of consistency cost them a win.
“When we get things right, we look OK. We did it for a quarter this week,” he said.
“But to be able to do it for a quarter doesn’t get anyone a win in this game.”
A skirmish erupted as tempers boiled in the second term and GWS debutant Rene Caris took advantage of a momentarily distracted West Coast to kick her first career goal.
Chloe Dalton put the Giants in front for the first time before a monster effort by the Eagles drew them level 2.5 (17) by halftime.
There was no stopping a surging ‘orange tsunami’ in the second half, with GWS gathering four more contested possessions and 10 more uncontested disposals than West Coast in the third term.
Three majors to Goldsworthy and one by skipper Alicia Eva blew the margin out to 26 points, effectively ending the contest.
“It’s nice to be on the other side again. The most pleasing thing is that we responded,” Giants coach Cam Bernasconi said.
“Within a footy club, when things don’t go your way, sometimes you do fatigue mentally – but the way the girls attacked this week has been unbelievable.
“I can see where we’re going and now, hopefully, the girls can see that too. I’ve always believed.”
GWS (1-5) have a chance to build a winning streak when they take on 12th-placed St Kilda next round, while West Coast (1-5) face an uphill battle against the Melbourne juggernaut.
Life has not got any easier for the winless Western Bulldogs after they recorded a sixth consecutive AFLW loss, suffering a 19-point defeat by Carlton.
All eyes were on the Bulldogs to see how they could respond and if they could snare that elusive victory after coach Nathan Burke told media that players were lacking the level of professionalism and fitness needed to win games.
However, they fell 4.10 (34) to 8.5 (53) to the Blues – who were without injured skipper Kerryn Peterson – at their Whitten Oval home on Friday night.
Elisabeth Georgostathis (29 disposals, five clearances) produced a career-best performance for the crestfallen Bulldogs, while Keeley Sherar (28, three) was a midfield bull for the Blues.
Wasting no time in putting the hosts on the back foot, Carlton locked the ball in their forward 50 – gaining nine inside 50s to the Bulldogs’ none.
Phoebe McWilliams and Abbie McKay broke through a sturdy Bulldogs backline to open the Blues’ account.
An incorrect disposal by Mimi Hill gifted the Bulldogs their first goal, with Brianna McFarlane putting boot to ball as the crowd roared.
A major by Jessica Good for the Blues quickly silenced the Bulldogs faithful before quarter-time.
With her Bulldogs team trailing by 15 points, Brit Gutknecht snatched her first major since snapping her right leg in a horror accident in last season’s round-two match against Port Adelaide.
Daisy Walker cut the party short with her first AFLW goal to bring the margin back to 14 points.
Darcy Vescio, Lily Goss, Mia Austin and Erone Fitzpatrick were among the Blues’ goalkickers as the Bulldogs crumbled in the second half.
Isabelle Pritchard kicked a goal on the final siren to cut the margin to 19 points as a consolation for the wayward Bulldogs.
Blues coach Mathew Buck hailed his side’s continued success in on-field contests, praising his midfield as the surging side saw goals from eight different players.
“It’s important in footy that your mids do hit the board as well,” he said.
“It’s been a bit of a focus through our preseason around can our mids hit the board more, and it’s pleasing to see it tonight.”
The pressure of wanting to perform and yearning to get a score on the board may have led to the Bulldogs’ undoing, coach Burke said after the match.
“Sometimes that can spur you and sometimes it can be, ‘I don’t want to make a mistake. I don’t want to upset that really good start’,” he said.
But Burke believes the struggling Bulldogs can improve as the list gains more experience.
“That’s not a talent thing. It’s something that comes with experience, knowing how to handle the situation, knowing how to keep making good decisions when you get tired and when the pressure comes on.”
With no chance for finals, the Western Bulldogs (0-6) continue their soul searching with a face-off against Adelaide next round while Carlton (4-2) take on top eight hopefuls Collingwood at Ikon Park.