HAWTHORN has broken through for its first AFLW victory after overrunning a fast-starting Sydney to score a thrilling four-point victory at a packed Swinburne Centre.
The Hawks gave up a four-goal start but after a fierce spray from coach Bec Goddard at the first change, wrestled back the momentum to set up a 5.5 (35) to 4.7 (31) triumph on Friday.
The Swans made a scintillating start with four majors in the opening 10 minutes but from there the Hawks turned the game into more of a contested battle and kept their opponents goalless.
The Hawks took a three-point lead into the final term but with both teams desperate not to concede a goal the margin barely moved despite the ball flying into the Swans forward 50 as the final siren sounded.
SWANS v HAWKS Full match coverage and stats
Third-gamer Tahlia Fellows made the most of the Hawks’ territory advantage after quarter-time with three goals, while Jasmine Fleming continued her outstanding debut season.
The 17-year-old midfielder Fleming finished with 16 disposals and 10 tackles to lead the way with Tilly Lucas-Rodd (12, 11) in support and defender Akec Makur Chuot (13 touches) also crucial to the comeback.
Brooke Lochland was the spark for the Swans’ electrifying start, buzzing around inside the forward 50 and slotting three of the Swans’ four goals in the opening term after they failed to kick a major last week.
Lochland finished with 17 disposals and had a chance to steal the game late as a ball bounced around close to goal but was quickly closed down by multiple Hawks players.
Cynthia Hamilton starred for the Swans, playing in the ruck, the midfield and at times up forward, as the 18-year-old gathered a game-high 19 disposals.
The Swans' co-captain Maddy Collier had 10 touches in her first game of the season after recovering from an ankle injury.
The two expansion clubs have found life difficult in their first AFLW season and occupy the bottom two places on the ladder but this was a gripping clash that should give both hope for a brighter future.
The Hawks are now 1-4 while the Swans are 0-5 and still searching for their first AFLW success, but they should be buoyed by their most competitive performance so far.
History nearly repeated for Lochland
There was a feeling of deja vu when Brooke Lochland kicked three goals in the first quarter against the Hawks. Lochland holds the AFLW record for most games kicked in a game, which is seven goals, and for a while looked like she was going to equal - or even go past - that record against the Swans on Friday. But Hawthorn managed to quell Lochland's influence for the remainder of the game, stopping her haul at three goals.
Hawks make a statement in more ways than one
It had been a tumultuous week for the Hawthorn football club, and on Friday its AFLW side made a statement from the moment it took to the field, wearing the side's Indigenous Round guernsey. Coach Bec Goddard revealed post-game that the decision to wear the guernsey came from the playing group. “They wanted to wear their Indigenous jumpers because we’re the new face of the club. We’re a new part of football at Hawthorn. We are inclusive and diverse, and we treat our job as role models as a privilege," she said. Defender Akec Makur Chuot backed up her coach's reasoning, saying wearing the jumper was a sign of respect. “The women are always pillars of every club, and for us as a new team, we wanted to show we respect and we want to listen to our First Nations people," she told Fox Footy post-game.
"That was probably the fiercest I've been with the playing group, I was very strong and direct with my messaging at the quarter-time break. They are such a resilient young group of players that they responded immediately and that really is a credit to them, where they're at, their desire and their fight to win.” - Hawthorn coach Bec Goddard
“This is a different sort of disappointment because I feel if we had have taken our opportunities, I'd be standing here happy that we won our first game but the review wouldn't change much. The facts remain the same, it's just one of those games that could've gone either way." - Sydney coach Scott Gowans
Hawthorn will look to back up its maiden win with another against West Coast on Friday night, while the Swans will return to Victoria to face North Melbourne on Sunday evening.
SYDNEY 4.2 4.3 4.6 4.7 (31)
HAWTHORN 1.0 3.2 5.3 5.5 (35)
Sydney: Lochland 3, Privitelli
Hawthorn: Fellows 3, Baskaran, Gilroy
Sydney: C.Hamilton, Lochland, Ham, Eastman
Hawthorn: Fleming, Fellows, Lucas-Rodd, Gilroy