GREATER Western Sydney has thrust itself back into the finals hunt with a nine-point defeat of Collingwood on Sunday, leaving the Magpies as the competition's only winless team.
The match-up between the Conference B rivals was desperately important for both if they were to have any hope of qualifying for the post-season.
The Giants landed a major blow early and were never seriously threatened despite Collingwood's late rally, going on to post their maiden victory of the season, 5.6 (36) to 4.3 (27).
They took advantage of a strong breeze at Morwell Recreation Reserve to kick three goals inside the first eight minutes – and maintained the lead throughout the contest.
The quarter-time margin was 26 points by the time elusive Irishwoman Cora Staunton marked and goaled from 40m, after outpointing two Pies defenders.
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GWS's dominance was reflected in it having 10 of the first 11 inside 50s, benefiting from the drive of Courtney Gum, Alicia Eva, Alyce Parker and Jessica Dal Pos.
Rebecca Beeson (equal match-high 22 disposals) was another strong early contributor and arguably the Giants' best four-quarter performer, along with former Collingwood star Eva (22).
Collingwood failed to score in the opening term and played catch-up from there, although Jordan Membrey gave her side a fighting chance with her second goal five minutes into the fourth quarter.
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Maddie Shevlin then used the wind to perfection to slash the deficit to 11 points, but the Magpies ultimately ran out of time.
It was a frustrating result for coach Wayne Siekman and Collingwood, given GWS managed just one major to the Pies' four after quarter-time.
Jaimee Lambert (21, seven tackles) and Sarah Dargan (16, six and one goal) were the Magpies' standouts.
Collingwood defender Nicole Hildebrand briefly left the ground in the second quarter after laying a bruising tackle but passed a concussion test and returned in the second half.
Back in the mix
Greater Western Sydney made the trip south with zero wins to its name and a paltry percentage of 60.6. The Giants probably missed an opportunity to fix the latter after such a strong start on Sunday. However, the drought-ending triumph leaves them just one victory behind second-placed Geelong in Conference B, making next week's home clash with Melbourne a season-defining one.
Magpies defender Nicole Hildebrand wasn't the only player to leave the ground under duress. Hildebrand buried a Giant in a fearsome tackle in the second quarter, only to hurt herself in the process. She was helped from the ground and looked dazed but passed a concussion test and returned in the third term. It was a similar situation for first-year GWS player Alyce Parker, who left the field after a heavy knock but was cleared to go back on. Parker was one of the Giants' best players early in establishing the four-goal-to-none start.
Jordan Membrey wasn't foreign to AFLW fans after playing five games and kicking one goal for Brisbane in the competition's inaugural season. But she had to wait until the fourth round of season three to add to her tally, for a different club – and even then it was only when Sarah D'Arcy (hamstring) was ruled out on Friday night that she came into the team. Membrey didn't waste her chance, kicking two goals, with the second of them giving the Magpies the impetus to make a fourth-quarter charge. Coach Wayne Siekman post-match as good as assured her of a place next week, too.
"I've said all week I really wasn't too worried about the result. When you've gone zip-three, it's about how you play and I thought we were really inconsistent in our approach to the game a week ago. Our attention to detail (and) our ability to compete fluctuated too much and I thought that was much better today. That's what pleased me the most. Of course, the girls were pretty excited about winning after this long, so I guess that gets the monkey off their back and gives them a bit of confidence for the remainder of the season." – GWS Giants coach Alan McConnell
"The first quarter probably cost us. I think we were a little bit slow to react to the breeze … but full credit to our group. At quarter-time, we came in after a bit of a slow start and the next three quarters, I think, were four goals to one, so they worked exceptionally hard in that third quarter when we asked for a special effort to keep us within that three- or four-goal range at quarter-time and we gave ourselves a chance to win but just came up a little bit short. But the last three quarters, the intent, the work-rate and the way they applied themselves, I'm very proud of the group." – Collingwood coach Wayne Siekman
"It is a relief, but we didn't go into the game thinking panic stations and dwelling on the weeks gone. We have addressed the fact a few of our earlier (games) – round one and round two – could have gone our way. But we were pretty disappointed about our performance last week, so we wanted to put on a good show and actually play our brand of footy this week and I think we certainly did that and had a really good start, so the girls are pretty pleased." – Giants vice-captain and former Pie Alicia Eva
"It was so much fun to get out there with the girls and I'm just happy to play my role. It's unfortunate for the loss, but I think there are lots of positives to take out of it. Coming off playing in the first (season for Brisbane), it's stepped up quite dramatically, but we train hard, so I definitely expected (it to be tough). Late training on Friday night, so when Wayne took me into his office I was quite happy. It's unfortunate for 'Darce' (Sarah D'Arcy), but I'm happy to play my role and I kicked a few." – Magpies debutant Jordan Membrey
The Giants are back in with a chance of finishing in the top two of their conference but would dearly love to make it two wins in a row next week when they host Melbourne at Blacktown. Collingwood will have another go at trying to open its winning account against Carlton at Ikon Park.
COLLINGWOOD 0.0 2.1 2.1 4.3 (27)
GWS GIANTS 4.2 4.3 5.6 5.6 (36)
Collingwood: Membrey 2, Dargan, Shevlin
GWS Giants: Mackrill, Stephenson, Dal Pos, Staunton, Bonner
Collingwood: Lambert, Dargan, Bonnici, Livingstone, Membrey
GWS Giants: Beeson, Eva, Gum, Staunton, Farrugia, Dal Pos
Collingwood: D'Arcy (hamstring) replaced in selected side by Membrey
GWS Giants: McKinnon (illness) replaced in selected side by Nielsen
Umpires: Rebeschini, Strybos, Young
Official crowd: 1743 at Morwell Recreation Reserve