Chloe Molloy celebrates a goal during the round one match between Sydney and Greater Western Sydney on September 3, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

SYDNEY claimed a historic maiden AFLW win with an upset five-point victory over cross-town rival Greater Western Sydney on Sunday afternoon.

While attention is focused on the stunning performance of boom recruit and co-captain Chloe Molloy, it was more than just Molloy who drove the win.


At the contest

Molloy's presence through the middle was certainly important as the former Magpie gathered 13 disposals and four clearances, while also applying defensive pressure laying six tackles. But nothing Molloy did was more important than her goal late in the third quarter that helped shift the momentum of the game heading into the final break.


Fellow recruit Laura Gardiner was a quiet achiever in the midfield, winning a team-high 19 disposals, five clearances and laying 13 tackles – the most recorded in a Sydney guernsey to date. Her consistent work around the contest essentially provided an anchor point for the rest of Sydney's onballers to rotate around.

Meanwhile leading the charge in the middle was Rising Star nominee Ally Morphett, who has spent the off-season improving her fitness to become a more damaging ruck for her team.

Morphett's 29 hitouts and 16 contested possessions were both Swans records, while she led her side for clearances with seven and also kicked a goal. Coming up against debutant Fleur Davies, who started well, Morphett steeled herself to take charge of the ruck battle to provide her midfielders access to the footy, and ultimately come out on top.

Up forward

Despite only recording three tackles for the day, Aliesha Newman's pressure in attack was instrumental for the Swans, particularly in the second half. Registering eight disposals, four score involvements and a goal for the game, Newman's presence in the front half caused poor disposal and turnovers from Greater Western Sydney's defensive line, generating repeat opportunities at goal for the Swans as a result.

In the air, Rebecca Privitelli didn't let a quiet first half worry her, instead continuing to present in the forward 50 and finally getting on the end of some neat ball movement to take four marks inside 50 for the game. Privitelli's two goals from 13 disposals was key to the Swans' second-half surge.


The last line

Molloy's fellow co-captain Lucy McEvoy brought exactly what she was recruited to do: provide a calm head behind the play to solidify the backline. Not only did McEvoy play an important stopping role in defence, but her ability to then rebound the footy and generate attacking play was invaluable. From 16 disposals in defence, McEvoy registered four inside 50s and five score involvements for the day.

Alongside her down back was inaugural Swan Ella Heads, who spent a season as a train-on player at GWS before being recruited to the red and white. Heads proved to be the key rebounder for Sydney, sending the ball back out of its defensive 50 with half of her 12 disposals, gaining 253m in the process.

Her big boot greatly complements that of Bella Smith's, allowing the Swans to move past the wall of pressure GWS was attempting in its forward line.

Bella Smith in action during the match between Sydney and Greater Western Sydney at North Sydney Oval in round one, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

And in a clutch final quarter performance, Brenna Tarrant's true impact is simply not measured on the stats sheet. Standing up with three timely intercept marks late in the game as the Giants were threatening to snatch back the lead, Tarrant was composed not only to take the marks, but to move the ball into space and out of danger with her kicks.


The Swans' breakthrough win was a result of a team-wide performance. Yes, punctuated by classy individual moments, but driven by each player in the small moments.