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Swans sail past Dockers to clinch AFLW finals berth

3 minute read

Winless in their inaugural season, Sydney improved dramatically to make the AFLW finals after claiming a 22-point win over Fremantle.

SCOTT GOWANS. Picture: Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images

Sydney have prevailed in a fierce tug-of-war with Fremantle to win by 22 points and seal their first AFLW finals appearance.

Down by four points at halftime in the low-scoring game, a third-term goal from Rebecca Privitelli sparked the Swans to a 5.10 (40) to 2.6 (18) win on Sunday at Fremantle Oval.

Needing to win after fellow finals hopefuls St Kilda clinched victory over Carlton earlier on Sunday, the second-year expansion side stormed home with three unanswered goals to secure eighth spot.

Their passage to the finals represents a dramatic improvement, after the Swans went winless in their first season.

"We've got an opportunity now that we've earned and where we take it is completely up to us," Swans coach Scott Gowans said.

"If I'm being truly honest, last year I felt bitterly disappointed.

"We speak about the journey that we're on. It's all about that thinking of, 'This is a moment in time to perform'.

"It's really satisfying as a coach, just to know that your team has got the ability to come back from a pressured situation and get the game back to our terms."

Missing star ruck Ally Morphett to a season-ending wrist injury, Laura Gardiner stood the tallest in the midfield, while Molloy (two goals), Montana Ham, Privitelli and Brooke Lochland hit the scoreboard.

An off-season recruit from Geelong, 20-year-old Gardiner had the ball on a string with a game-high 33 disposals and 18 contested possessions.

But the Swans had their work cut out for them against a desperate Dockers defence.

Laura Pugh (eight intercept possessions) was a roadblock for the visitors' attack, while powerhouse Kiara Bowers laid a game-high 18 tackles.

Fremantle's Gabby O'Sullivan set the tone early, scoring a 45-metre bomb from the corridor.

The Swans peppered the scoreboard before Molloy, gifted a ruck infringement free kick, slotted her 50th career goal to put the visitors ahead by three points at quarter time.

Taking advantage of an empty forward 50, Airlie Runnalls kicked into an open goal to put the Dockers back into the lead with a four-point buffer before the main break.

Fremantle looked certain to build on their margin when Makaela Tuhakaraina appeared to snap the ball between the sticks, only to see it strike an umpire. Despite some doubt, without a score review in the women's game, it was deemed a behind.

As the Swans edged towards ascendancy, leading in contested possessions (23-16) and clearances (7-1), Privitelli finally broke through to lift them to a three-point lead.

Fremantle skipper Hayley Miller put matters into her own hands, running into an empty forward 50 before putting boot to ball, but sprayed her shot to the right.

Running hot with the last six inside 50s, three goals from Lochland, Molloy and Ham sealed the win for the Swans.