ST KILDA has held off a surging Gold Coast to win its first game of the AFLW season by three points, and strike a hammer blow to the Suns' finals hopes.
The last-placed Saints led by 24 points early in the match but had to grit their teeth late as Suns forward Sarah Perkins spurned two chances to steal victory in the final two minutes.
With the 5.4 (34) to 4.7 (31) victory at Trevor Barker Beach Oval, St Kilda shook off Wednesday's after-the-siren loss to Greater Western Sydney but remain bottom of the ladder.
The Suns are within touching distance of the top six but their poor percentage means they must win their final two games and rely on other results to make finals.
St Kilda's Tilly Lucas-Rodd (21 disposals, nine tackles) impressed through midfield while Cat Phillips (17 disposals) and Tarni White (15 touches, seven tackles) were typically hard-working.
Tara Bohanna kept the Suns in the match with three goals, while defender Vivien Saad (14 touches, four marks) and midfielder Jaimee Stanton (16 disposals) worked hard all day.
SAINTS v SUNS Full match coverage and stats
St Kilda burst out of the blocks with four unanswered goals across the first two quarters, with two coming directly from Gold Coast turnovers.
The Saints suffered a major blow part way through the opening term when Rhi Watt was forced off with a knee injury, with Jacqui Vogt deployed in the ruck.
After Kate Shierlaw gave St Kilda a four-goal lead early in the second term, the Suns found a foothold in the game through Bohanna and Perkins.
The Suns trailed by 16 points at the final change but the brilliant Bohanna created two goals, including beating two St Kilda defenders for her third of the game to cut the deficit to five.
With less than two minutes to go, Perkins received a free kick for a ruck infringement, but pushed her set shot wide.
Barely a minute later, Perkins took a massive mark from close range and had a more straight-forward chance to win the match, but missed again.
The steal of the season?
Overlooked in every NAB AFLW Draft since 2016, Tara Bohanna is proving to be a very shrewd acquisition for the Suns. Selected this year as a top-up player after a best-and-fairest season with St Kilda's VFLW side, Bohanna has seized her AFLW opportunity and run with it. Playing every game so far in 2022, Bohanna has kicked 12 goals which puts her in the top handful of goal-scorers so far this season. The high-flying 26-year-old booted three goals against the Saints, nearly winning the game for the Suns off her own boot.
"It feels very good now, I must admit I wasn't feeling that good when there were a few minutes to play in that last quarter. I think I ticked off every emotion (in that final quarter)." - St Kilda coach Nick Dal Santo
"We gave ourselves a chance to win it in the end, but we took a while to get going and in the end we didn't play our game for long enough, and they did. We gave them a start, and you can't do that in elite sport. We knew they'd be really hungry for a win, and we certainly were a little bit flat-footed and a little bit slow to react at times." - Gold Coast coach Cameron Joyce
The Saints return to RSEA Park for the first time this season, playing host to Geelong on Saturday afternoon. The Suns will be back in Melbourne on Sunday evening, taking on Carlton at Ikon Park.
ST KILDA 3.0 4.2 5.2 5.4 (34)
GOLD COAST 0.1 1.2 2.4 4.7 (31)
St Kilda: Xenos, Exon, McDonald, Shierlaw, Guttridge
Gold Coast: Bohanna 3, Perkins
St Kilda: Lucas-Rodd, White, Phillips, Priest, Jakobsson
Gold Coast: Stanton, Saad, Whitfort, Bohanna, Drennan
St Kilda: Watt (left knee)
Gold Coast: Groves-Little (head)
St Kilda: Nil
Gold Coast: Nil
Crowd: TBC at Trevor Barker Beach Oval
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