A DOMINANT performance from Irish forward Cora Staunton has helped GWS defeat West Coast by 20 points in western Sydney, extending the visitors' winless AFLW season.
Staunton booted four goals and created several others to help the Giants prevail 7.6 (48) to 4.4 (28) at Blacktown International Sportspark.
GIANTS v EAGLES Full match coverage and stats
The sun was shining on Sunday, setting the stage for the Giants' highest score of the season - and a potent start from both sides.
A combined quarter-time score of 7.3 (45) was just one point short of equalling the most prolific first term in AFLW history.
Staunton, as she has done so often since starting her AFLW career in 2018, led the way for GWS.
The 39-year-old, who feared her career was over after breaking both the tibia and fibula bones in her right leg during 2019, kicked the hosts' opening two goals.
The Gaelic football legend, who returned to Australia last December and was released from hotel quarantine on Christmas Day, continued to work tirelessly.
With the game in the balance and the Giants' lead just seven points after a goal-less third term, Staunton stepped up with two goals in two minutes.
Staunton's third goal was an opportunistic effort after repeat stoppages in the Giants' forward line, a product of their impressive pressure, while her fourth was a cracking set shot from the pocket.
West Coast weren't daunted during a frenetic and fierce start to the contest, hitting the front when Maddy Collier slotted her side's third goal.
GWS steadied to establish a seven-point lead at quarter-time.
The Eagles trailed for the rest of the game, with Aisling McCarthy's knee injury souring the defeat.
McCarthy landed awkwardly after a marking contest late in the final term, taking several minutes to get back on her feet.
Staunton finished best on ground but teammate Tait Mackrill produced arguably the best goal of the day, kicking truly from just inside the 50m arc.
GWS young gun Alyce Parker (25 disposals and six tackles) continued her productive start to the season, while Isabella Lewis (16 disposals and nine tackles) was among the Eagles' best.
It was over when…
Cora Staunton booted her second fourth-quarter goal in as many minutes to surge the Giants 19 points clear of the persistent Eagles. After soccering through an opportunist's major five minutes into the final term, the 39-year-old star marked strongly on the lead from the next foray forward and kicked truly on an angle from 35m to give her side a match-winning lead.
Not another one
After a kitchen accident ended skipper Dana Hooker's campaign and a nasty finger injury sidelined speedy Irish recruit Niamh Kelly, the last thing the Eagles needed was another key player going down. But that's what happened when Aisling McCarthy was collected inadvertently after a marking contest. A Giants opponent crashed into her lower left leg and McCarty immediately fell to the ground, clutching her left knee. She was helped from the field by trainers and West Coast will hope for the best news possible from her scans.
The Giants' strength around the contest was on show throughout the game. The Eagles were able to edge the home side at centre bounces, winning clearances 7-6, but they couldn't match GWS' depth at stoppages around the ground. The Giants won the stoppages 22-13, with star mid Alyce Parker dominant against an Eagles side that won't get prime mover Dana Hooker back until 2022.
"Earlier, it was a bit of a shoot-out to be honest. We looked a bit vulnerable behind the ball, both structurally and also technique. We should have punched 3-4 times and (instead) let the ball over the back. We're never going to win a shootout based on our history of kicking goals so we needed to tidy that up, which we did and looked pretty solid from half-time on." - GWS coach Alan McConnell
"Probably our biggest focus over the last couple of weeks has been playing our brand for longer... I felt like we played that brand for probably three quarters and then the last quarter it got away from us again. It's all part of our growth and development, just trying to stick it out for the 80 minutes, not 65. I think it's not far away, there was some positive stuff, but it could be hard for the rest of the year as well." - West Coast coach Daniel Pratt
The Giants travel south to take on the in-form Western Bulldogs on Saturday, while the Eagles will have their best chance yet for a first win in 2021 when they host fellow winless side Gold Coast at Mineral Resources Park on Sunday.
GWS GIANTS 4.2 5.3 5.4 7.6 (48)
WEST COAST 3.1 4.1 4.3 4.4 (28)
GWS Giants: Staunton 4, Beeson, Dal Pos, Mackrill
West Coast: Laurie, Atkins, Coller, Bowen
GWS Giants: Staunton, Parker, Eva, Beeson, Evans
West Coast: Bresland, Swanson, McCarthy, Lewis, Bowen
GWS Giants: Nil
West Coast: McCarthy (knee)
Crowd: 974 at Blacktown International Sportspark
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