THE FIRST ever AFL Women's QClash has ended in a draw after a frantic final quarter comeback by Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Brisbane led by 15 points at half-time but failed to kick a goal after the break, as the Suns finished full of running to level the scores at 4.4 (28) apiece when the final siren sounded.
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Kalinda Howarth was the star of the show for Gold Coast, kicking three of her team's goals, including the final one to level the scores with four minutes remaining.
Howarth, who was in the room when the Suns' successfully bid for its license to enter the league, took a mark from a Jamie Stanton pass and calmly slotted the goal from a tight angle.
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The ball was camped inside Brisbane's defensive 50 for most of the final quarter (Gold Coast had a 12-1 inside 50 advantage) as they finished with all the momentum.
The Lions can largely thank Kate Lutkins (22 disposals and 12 marks) for sharing the points as she repelled attack after attack in the second half.
She was awarded the QClash Medal for best player afield.
Emily Bates (24 touches) was one of the catalysts that propelled the Lions to their early lead, while birthday girl Rheanne Lugg kicked the game's first two goals and Nat Grider was also rock solid in defence.
Stanton (15 disposals) continued her good form, while Jade Prejelj blanketed last week's Rising Star nominee Jesse Wardlaw with an exceptional performance.
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The result leaves Brisbane unbeaten with two wins and a draw, while Gold Coast now has a win and draw from the first three rounds.
Kate Lutkins is one of – if not the – most under-rated players in the competition and again showed her class against the Suns. Lutkins, a 2018 All Australian, stood tall under an avalanche of inside 50s in the second half. She took 12 marks, most of them intercepts, along with 22 disposals to help Brisbane halve the contest.
Knocked down, but not out
Both teams lost a crucial player early in the final term, but it seems as though neither will miss any time despite not returning to the field. Gold Coast co-captain Leah Kaslar copped an accidental hip from Emily Bates, while Lion Sophie Conway hit her head hard on the ground moments later. Both left the field and, after being assessed, were cleared to return, but ran out of time to get back on the field.
It might be forgotten in the washup, but Brisbane can thank Lily Postlethwaite for sharing the points. Early in the final quarter with her team leading by eight points, Postlethwaite saved a sure-fire goal when she threw her body at the boot of Paige Parker to smother her kick from the top of the goalsquare. The Suns kicked a point from the scrimmage but Postlethwaite's desperation paid off in the end.
One to watch
It took three minutes of magic for Kalinda Howarth to show the AFLW world what she could do. A priority signing for the Suns, Howarth – who was delisted by Brisbane after one uncapped season – kicked two goals in quick succession in the second quarter as her team trailed by 19 points. One came from a set shot and moments later her second from a classy right-foot snap. Her calm set shot with four minutes remaining made it three for the day and prompted coach David Lake to call her "the Stevie J of women's football".
"Jamie Stanton gave an impassioned plea (at half-time) to everybody to come to the level and realise we are in the uncomfortable here and we need to develop something. The best part was the response she was able to get from the group." – Gold Coast coach David Lake
"I reckon it's got more rivalry than the men's. I think it's because the girls know each other. You know each other so well and obviously half the (Gold Coast) team played for us last year. I think from a rivalry stakes, the girls win for sure." – Brisbane stand-in coach Daniel Merrett.
Brisbane will try to keep its unbeaten run going when it hosts Greater Western Sydney at Hickey Park next Sunday at 4.10pm (AEST). Gold Coast travels south to play North Melbourne at Arden Street next Saturday at 5.10pm (AEDT).
GOLD COAST 0.0 2.0 3.1 4.4 (28)
BRISBANE 2.0 4.3 4.4 4.4 (28)
Gold Coast: Howarth 3, Perry
Brisbane: Lugg 2, Wardlaw, Conway
Gold Coast: Howarth, Prejelj, Dunn, Hewett, Ahrens, Stanton
Brisbane: Lutkins, Bates, Grider, Anderson, Dawes, Arnell
Gold Coast: Kaslar (head)
Brisbane: Conway (head)
Crowd: 4223 at Metricon Stadium