Star Port Adelaide recruit Erin Phillips had a quiet first-up display for her new club as West Coast produced a remarkable final-quarter burst to snatch a 12-point AFLW victory.
- West Coast kicked four unanswered goals to beat Port Adelaide in the Power’s first AFLW game
- Port led by 11 points at the final change but couldn’t hang on
- North Melbourne beat Gold Coast by 26 points in a win that will put the league on alert
The Power were on track to mark their AFLW debut with a win on Saturday afternoon after booting four unanswered goals across the second and third terms to open up a 12-point lead.
But West Coast turned the tables in the final quarter, with last season’s wooden spooners kicking four unanswered goals of their own to secure the 6.4 (40) to 4.4 (28) victory at Lathlain Park in Perth.
Ireland’s Aisling McCarthy started the late onslaught by selling the dummy to two Port defenders before kicking truly in the pocket.
Mikayla Western, Aimee Schmidt and Kate Bartlett followed it up with goals as the Eagles ran away with victory.
Phillips, a three-time flag winner at Adelaide, had just two possessions in the first half, and the new Port skipper finished the match with 10 disposals and three clearances.
Former Docker Gemma Houghton (10 disposals, one goal) was prominent early before fading in the second half, but had the honour of kicking Port Adelaide’s first-ever goal in the competition.
West Coast forward Kellie Gibson suffered what looked to be a serious knee injury less than a minute after booting the first goal of the match.
Gibson, who won a flag with the Crows in 2017, celebrated wildly upon kicking truly from 35 metres out on a tricky angle in the opening quarter.
But from the next centre bounce, Gibson crumpled to the turf after her left knee hyperextended while competing for the ball.
Eagles captain Emma Swanson tallied 21 disposals and seven clearances in a star display, while McCarthy (18 possessions, six clearances, one goal) was also critical.
North open campaign with big win over Suns
Meanwhile, it was a milestone match to savour for North Melbourne superstars Jasmine Garner and Emma Kearney, who both starred in the comprehensive 26-point AFLW win over Gold Coast.
Garner (27 disposals, one goal, seven clearances, six inside-50s) dominated in the midfield to be best-on-ground, while captain Kearney (17 touches) was superb across half-back in the Kangaroos’ 6.4 (40) to 2.2 (14) triumph on Saturday afternoon.
Tahlia Randall, who slotted a career-best three goals, was the chief beneficiary of Garner and Kearney’s upfield exploits.
The Suns conjured the first score of the game when vice-captain Jamie Stanton snapped a behind in the opening minutes, but they were forced to wait until the last five minutes of the match before notching their next point.
In the meantime, the Kangas ran riot.
Gold Coast ruck Lauren Bella was regularly getting her hand on the footy first at the hit-outs, but North’s midfielders, led by Garner, cut a swathe once the ball hit the deck at the stoppages.
Ahead by 12 points at quarter time, armed by a 10-2 advantage in inside-50s, the Kangaroos were even more dominant in the second term were ahead by 26 points at half-time.
Randall marked a Garner pass and nailed her third early in the term, which was followed by debutant Sophia McCarthy kicking the first of her career as the home side in Hobart romped to a 39-point three-quarter time lead.
With just a solitary point on the board, Gold Coast were in danger of creating unwanted records.
The lowest score in AFLW history — 0.2 (2) held jointly by the Suns against Brisbane in 2021 and St Kilda against Carlton last season — was in danger of being broken.
To their credit, the Suns showed pride by lifting noticeably in the fourth term.
Stanton converted a free kick for Gold Coast’s belated first goal with just over three minutes remaining before Kalinda Howarth’s mark and goal inside the last 60 seconds limited some of the earlier damage.