GEELONG has handed Gold Coast the wooden spoon for the 2021 AFL Women's season, outlasting the Suns by 17 points at Metricon Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Cats jumped from the blocks quickly, kicking three unanswered goals in the opening term, but had to withstand a strong Suns fightback in the second half before winning 6.5 (41) to 3.6 (24).
Rebecca Webster's goal on the final siren was the icing on the cake and sparked jubilant scenes among the Cats' players.
It was their first win of the season and ensured retiring veteran Aasta O'Connor finished in style.
Laura Gardiner (18 disposals) and Amy McDonald (17 and eight tackles) found plenty of the ball for the victors, while Richelle Cranston kicked two goals, including one beauty from 45m in the third term.
It completed a horror season for the Suns, in which they set a host of records for all the wrong reasons.
SUNS v CATS Full match coverage and stats
They're just the second team to go through a season without winning, and also set record lows for points in a match (two points against Brisbane in round two) and conceding the most points in a match (87 against Carlton last week).
To the home team's credit, they battled bravely after a slow start, with Alison Drennan (23 touches) and Kalinda Howarth (two goals from 13 disposals) prominent.
They got within two goals during final term, but couldn't reel in the big early deficit.
Did you see that?
Cats veteran Richelle Cranston put in a late nomination for Goal of the Year with a thrilling third-quarter major. Gathering the ball at half-forward, Cranston baulked around her Suns opponent and after a couple of steps to steady, uncorked a brilliant finish from 45m off the outside of her right boot. There's been some great goals in 2021, but Cranston's is as good as any.
With the clock winding down in the first quarter, Geelong looked like going to the break with a 13-point lead – until all hell broke loose. Maddison Levi gave away a free kick for a sling tackle on Rene Caris in the middle of the ground, which brought Sun Ellie Hampson and Cat Julia Crocket-Grills in to remonstrate. Geelong received a 50m penalty and Caris made them pay dearly, converting nicely after the siren, much to the joy of her teammates.
Where's this Kindy been?
Following her All Australian selection in 2020, Sun Kalinda Howarth has had a difficult follow-up year, but in the final match of the season, reminded everyone of her prodigious talent. Howarth – who kicked nine goals last season – has struggled so much in 2021 that she's been moved to defence on occasions. However, against Geelong she kicked two goals from 13 disposals and narrowly missed a third when audaciously running around her opponent on the mark and hitting the post with her shot on the run.
"We’ve played good quarters of footy, good halves of footy, but we’ve never been able to string together games, a lot of work that we need to do going forward is around that … how do we put a full game together. We’re not hopeless, we just don’t know how to pull it together more often … there’s plenty in there." – Gold Coast coach David Lake
"If you asked Aasta what she wanted to be remembered as, it'd be someone that gave everything she could for the jumper every time she went out, and that's where she's been a real beacon for our team the last three seasons. She's spent it all every time she's played. All of us had a duty to make sure we put our best foot forward today. We're delighted she gets to experience some joy on the way out." - Geelong coach Paul Hood.
GOLD COAST 0.1 1.3 3.3 3.6 (24)
GEELONG 3.2 3.3 5.3 6.5 (41)
Gold Coast: Howarth, Ahrens, Drennan, Levi, Bella
Geelong: A.McDonald, Cranston, Gardiner, Webster, Crockett-Grills
Gold Coast: Howarth 2, Virgo
Geelong: Cranston 2, Barber, Caris, McWilliams, Webster
Gold Coast: Nil
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