Greater Western Sydney Irish star Cora Staunton broke the hearts of a brave West Coast, booting four goals to lead the Giants to a 20-point win at Blacktown International Sportspark today.
The Eagles trailed by just seven points at the final break and had all the momentum, but Staunton kicked two goals in quick succession to ensure the Giants claimed a 7.6 (48) to 4.4 (28) victory.
Luck was on the Eagles’ side in a high scoring first quarter, with a couple of fortunate bounces and some mistakes by the Giants seeing them have one of their best terms ever.
But they kicked just the one goal after quarter time as the Giants’ dominance at the clearances (28-20) eventually wore the visitors down.
There was nothing lucky though about the work in the middle of the ground, with skipper Emma Swanson (15 disposals) winning a couple of crucial centre clearances and West Coast playing some daring, exciting football.
West Coast were their own worst enemies at times, with ill-discipline and poor decisions under pressure allowing the Giants to get over the back of their defence to kick easy goals.
Staunton was causing plenty of headaches for the Eagles’ defence by either kicking goals or setting them up as her experience came to the fore.
The game became a battle of midfield attrition after the first break and the scoring dried up as a result, as the likes of Swanson and top draftee Bella Lewis (16 disposals, nine tackles and five clearances) took it up to the Giants’ experience in Alicia Eva (18 disposals), Rebecca Beeson (22 disposals and seven clearances) and Alyce Parker (25 disposals and six clearances).
After a number of poor third quarters to start the season, West Coast were desperate to buck the trend and came out of half-time looking the better of the two sides.
For all of their territory dominance, the Eagles could not put any scoreboard pressure on as the Giants’ defence held strong under immense pressure.
Sensing a chance for a first win for the season, the Eagles laid big tackles and applied plenty of pressure around the contest to signal their intent.
Staunton broke their hearts in the space of a few minutes, kicking an opportunistic goal in deep in attack before slotting a set shot to break the game open for the first time.
This took the wind out of the Eagles’ sails and the siren could not have come quick enough after a tough fortnight on the road.
Just minutes before the final siren West Coast’s day got worse with Irish import Aisling McCarthy was assisted from the ground after a nasty contest on the wing.
GWS 4.2, 5.3, 5.4, 7.6 (48)
West Coast 3.1, 4.1, 4.3, 4.4 (28)
Goals – GWS: C Staunton 4; R Beeson, J Dal Pos, T Mackrill. West Coast: A Atkins, P Laurie, M Collier, M Bowen.
Best – GWS: C Staunton, A Parker, R Beeson, A Eva, R Privitelli, E Goodsir. West Coast: B Lewis, E Swanson T Bresland, A McCarthy, A Atkins.
Injuries – West Coast: A McCarthy (leg).
Umpires: A. Heffernan, M. Baigent, D. Garroway. Crowd: 974 at Blacktown International Sportspark.