GREATER Western Sydney has overcome the loss of Olympic gold medallist Chloe Dalton to post a 15-point NAB AFLW win over Gold Coast at Great Barrier Reef Arena.
Dalton starred in the opening half of Sunday's match, with the highlight a burst through the middle that set up a goal to Katherine Smith in the second term.
But Dalton, who won Olympic gold with the Australian Rugby 7s team in 2016 and is also a former WNBL player, was forced off the field a short time later after hurting her shoulder while being crunched.
The Giants led by five points at the time of Dalton's exit, and they produced a commanding effort in the second half to seal the 5.6 (36) to 3.3 (21) win.
Dalton was ruled out of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics just weeks out from the Games after suffering a broken cheekbone.
She was looking to put that disappointment behind her by having a standout campaign for the Giants in 2022, but she could miss the rest of the season if scans reveal a serious injury.
Giants midfielder Alyce Parker was arguably best afield with 21 disposals and eight tackles, while Alicia Eva (22 possessions), Haneen Zreika (16 disposals), and 40-year-old Irish forward Cora Staunton (two goals) were also crucial.
GWS defender Brid Stack, who broke her neck in a practice game a year ago, was solid in her AFLW debut, putting her body on the line in some key moments.
Kalinda Howarth tallied 13 disposals and a goal for Gold Coast, while No.1 draft pick Charlie Rowbottom showed promise with 11 touches.
The opening half was an intense armwrestle that featured four lead changes as both sides went hard at the ball.
SUNS v GIANTS Full match coverage and stats
The Giants dominated the clearances early and scored the first goal of the match, but Howarth helped turn the momentum Gold Coast's way with a lively effort inside 50m.
Howarth's goal, and a major to Tara Bohanna, helped give the Suns a nine-point edge at quarter-time, but the margin was back to one point by the long break after GWS dug in during the second quarter.
GWS dominated the third term, with the Suns not registering their first inside 50m until the final three minutes of the quarter.
Although the Giants could only kick one goal for the term, their dominance continued in the final quarter, with Staunton's second goal sealing the win.
GOLD COAST 2.3 3.3 3.3 3.3 (21)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 1.0 3.2 4.3 5.6 (36)
Gold Coast: Bohanna, Howarth, Perkins
Greater Western Sydney: Staunton 2, Beeson, Privitelli, Smith
Gold Coast: Stanton, Howarth, Ahrens, Bella, Rowbottom
Greater Western Sydney: Parker, Eva, Beeson, Zreika, Mackrill
Gold Coast: Nil
Greater Western Sydney: Dalton (shoulder)
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