Zarlie strikes Gold for Giants’ second win

GREATER Western Sydney (GWS) broke through for their second win of the 2023 AFL Women’s season on Saturday, thanks largely to a remarkable Zarlie Goldsworthy performance.

The 18-year-old starred with 24 disposals (14 contested), 12 tackles and five goals to steer her side to a thrilling two-point victory over Carlton.

Minus the class and experience of Alyce Parker (ankle) and Rebecca Beeson (suspension), the Giants held on to maintain their near-perfect record at Henson Park and put a dent in Carlton’s finals hopes.

Goldsworthy was in inspired form throughout the match, but came up clutch with two quick goals to start term four, before adding another to twice give GWS the lead.

An assist for Jodie Hicks‘ sealing goal proved the cherry on top for Goldsworthy, who has put together a sparkling second season in the competition.

Speaking almost without a voice post-match, Giants coach Cam Bernasconi has his tongue in cheek while giving a rather understated assessment of the youngster’s performance.

“Pretty good,” he said. “She’s pretty important to us and I ask a lot of her… she just adapts and she’s a competitor, competitors want to win.”

Somewhat a story of the Giants’ season has been their tendency to fall away in final quarters, having spurned winning opportunities against Sydney and Richmond early in the campaign.

“It was awesome for the girls, they’ve really stuck together,” Bernasconi said.

“The message at three-quarter time was, ‘we’ve been in this position a few times this year and every time we go away from our system, we fall to the other side of the result.

“So we stuck to our system, problem solved. It was a really gutsy win.”

The Giants scrapped away and despite being thumped at the contest, won enough “moments” to get over the line.

Along with a strong breeze, efforts like that of Haneen Zreika (16 tackles) and Nicola Barr (seven tackles, five clearances) wrestled back the momentum of Carlton’s contested ball beasts.

The Blues were served well by ruck Breann Moody (23 disposals, 12 clearances, 46 hitouts) in the absence of Jess Good, along with midfielders Abbie McKay and Keeley Sherar.

Having been pegged for a return to the top eight, Carlton now sits ninth with two rounds to go, against fellow contenders Essendon and St Kilda.

Coach Mathew Buck maintains the Blues remain in the hunt to earn a finals berth despite riding a two-game losing streak.

“There’s two games left to go and we’re well and truly in the hunt,” he said. “We’ll dust ourselves off from this one. I can’t control what everyone else does.”

While Carlton’s postseason pursuit heads to Windy Hill on Saturday, while GWS will hope to end its season with more positivity in clashes against Gold Coast and Port Adelaide.

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