It was the Georgia Garnett show in the final home and away game for season seven, as her Giants ended their year with a 12-point victory over the Suns.
The 21-year-old was electric from the opening in attack, providing the driving force behind the Giants’ fast start and a lead of which they never looked back on.
Garnett kicked three goals, including two in the first quarter, from 14 disposals to end the season on a positive note after missing out on playing their first finals game since 2020.
The effort was her career-best, after her previous 23 games saw just four goals in total as she adjusted to various positions to cement her place in the side.
Garnett’s two first quarter goals saw the Giants lead by 11 points at quarter time, a margin that was increased at every break before the Suns kicked two goals in the final term to win the quarter.
Her third of the match came in the third quarter to extend the lead to 20 points, with a snap around the body after cleverly crumbing her own one-on-one contest.
Garnett proved her value around the ground also, taking a game high seven marks and allowing for the Giants to constantly attack with her link-up play with the midfielders.
Alyce Parker continued her dominant season in the Giants midfield, collecting 24 disposals with eight tackles and six clearances, feeding Garnett and the rest of her attack throughout the contest.
And it couldn’t have been Cora Staunton’s 50th game without her getting on the scoreboard herself, kicking the opening goal with a bomb from inside the centre square that rolled through before being mobbed by her teammates.
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While the Giants knew they weren’t going to play finals, the side did not give any less then 100 per cent in front of their home crowd to win their fourth game of the season and fourth game in a row against the Suns.
Giants coach Cam Bernasconi was visibly pleased with the result of the match, saying post-game, “I was rapt the girls finished with a win today”.
“It’s been an up and down season, but we’ve always just talked about getting better and growth, and we finished off the second half of the year three [wins] and two [losses].
“I’m just rapt the girls get to sing the song one last time this season.”
Giants veteran Tanya Hetherington announced prior to the match that she would be retiring from the women’s competition, with the win resulting in emotional scenes between her and her teammates after the final siren.
Bernasconi was full of praise for the retiring Hetherington, saying, “she is a fantastic person.”
“Not just a great servant as a player in this footy program, but what she’s done for this young group off the field is probably even more important.
“Even in my first season as coach she’s helped me so much. Her footy IQ is so good, and we just said she deserves every bit of recognition she gets tonight and over the next couple of weeks.”
After the Bulldogs defeated the Blues on Friday, the Suns were officially knocked out of finals contention and finished even on the season with five wins and five losses.
While they were well held by the Giants throughout the contest, young gun Ashanti Bush was able to provide two sparkling highlights that will have the Suns fans excited for the future.
Their first goal came from Bush in the opening quarter, who roved a pack and was able to kick truly on the run with blistering pace.
After kicking her first goal in the competition in stunning style, she gained a taste for the miraculous, kicking a goal of the year contender inside the opening minutes of the second quarter with a stunning outside the boot goal on the run.
Bush was behind only Garnett in the goal scoring on Sunday, but could have stolen the spotlight if not for two behinds in the second half, finishing the game with 2.2.
The Suns’ duo of Charlie Rowbottom and Alison Drennan tried their hardest in the midfield, racking up 27 disposals a piece and being key pillars behind the side’s late charge.
Suns coach Cameron Joyce said of the loss post-match, “it certainly wasn’t the way we’d like to have finished off the season”.
“I think the first half was the difference really… the Giants were just a bit cleaner, took their opportunities in front of goal, kicked straight and put us on the back foot.
“We were still able to have enough opportunities in the end to win, we had 12 shots to nine in the end… But we weren’t able to capitalise on that.”
The Suns 50 per cent win record was their best season yet, with an average winning margin of 24.4 points from their five victories.
Neither side will be competing in the finals series in season seven and will now be in the off-season before preparations begin for the eighth season of the AFLW.
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