Unsung hero Lucy Single has helped the Gold Coast book their second AFLW finals appearance with a 14-point win over Essendon.
Losing midfield powerhouse Charlie Rowbottom to an ankle injury proved no obstacle in the Suns’ maiden clash with the Bombers, as they finished the regular season with a 6.3 (39) to 3.7 (25) victory to kick off Pride Round at Great Barrier Reef Arena on Friday.
The Gold Coast could finish as high as third should results go their way.
Essendon are in danger of slipping out of the top eight, although coach Natalie Wood tried to highlight the positives.
“We are fortunate, we have banked six wins. Everyone’s quite upset but that is a great step forward for us,” she said.
“We now have to sit back and wait. We’re really conscious that percentage can change really quickly and push us out of the eight.
“The message to the players was … we’re still in it.”
While their men’s side have yet to make a finals appearance, this is the second time the Gold Coast’s women have clinched a play-off spot, having done so during the cancelled 2020 season.
Single filled the massive Rowbottom-size gap, collecting 25 disposals and six clearances in her prolific performance across the field, while also playing a crucial tagging role on Maddy Prespakis.
The former rugby sevens player was well supported by Claudia Whitford (25, five) and Alison Drennan (22, four).
Prespakis was held to eight contested possessions — well below a season average of 14 per game — while Georgia Nanscawen proved a potent threat with 13 contested possessions and three score involvements.
The Bombers broke through first with a goal from Amber Clarke, but young talent Darcie Davies (two goals) was able to respond after being gifted 50 metres from a protected area infringement by Mia Bush.
Daisy D’Arcy, Jacqueline Dupuy, Jamie Stanton and Davies attempted to break away from the low-scoring tug-of-war in the second with goals of their own.
But two goals from Amelia Radford and Georgia Gee kept the hosts close, while defender Ellyse Gamble (nine intercept possessions) proved a roadblock for the Suns’ attackers.
Single lit up the park with a clinical slice through the corridor, dodging two tackles to put the ball in the hands of Georgia Clayden, who capped the centre clearance with the only major of the third term.
With both sides goalless in the final quarter, the Suns were able to cruise home.
Should Essendon fail to progress to the finals, inaugural AFLW player and former Brisbane premiership performer Jess Wuetschner would have played her last AFLW game, having this week decided to retire.
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Source: AFL NEWS ABC