AFLW finals locked: ANOTHER goal ump controversy helps Swans secure spot as Saints win but fall heartbreakingly short

Sydney have prevailed in a fierce tug-of-war with the Dockers to win by 22 points and seal their first AFLW finals appearance.

Down by four points at halftime in the low-scoring game, a third-term goal from Rebecca Privitelli sparked the Swans to a 5.10 (40) to 2.6 (18) win on Sunday at Fremantle Oval.

>> Check out the AFLW Finals Week 1 fixture

Needing to win after fellow finals hopefuls St Kilda clinched victory over Carlton earlier on Sunday, the second-year expansion side stormed home with three unanswered goals to secure eighth spot.

It’s a dramatic improvement, with the Swans winless in their first season.

“Any club that’s able to go from winless one year (sic) to a finals berth, it’s incredible,” Sydney co-captain Chloe Molloy told Fox Footy after the match.

“You can see the emotion on the girls’ faces. Coming into the season, the odds were against us.

“Just to get into the eight, we’ve managed to do that. We’re stoked. It’s pretty special for the club.”

Rebecca Privitelli celebrates a goal. (Photo by James Worsfold/AFL Photos/Getty Images)

Missing star ruck Ally Morphett to a season-ending wrist injury, Laura Gardiner stood the tallest in the midfield, while Molloy (two goals), Montana Ham, Privitelli and Brooke Lochland hit the scoreboard.

An offseason recruit from Geelong, 20-year-old Gardiner had the ball on a string with a game-high 33 disposals and 18 contested possessions.

But the Swans had their work cut out for them against a desperate Dockers defence.

Laura Pugh (eight intercept possessions) was a roadblock for the visitors’ attack, while powerhouse Kiara Bowers laid a game-high 18 tackles.

Fremantle’s Gabby O’Sullivan set the tone early, scoring a 45m bomb from the corridor.

The Swans peppered the scoreboard before Molloy, gifted a ruck infringement free kick, slotted her 50th career goal to put the Swans ahead by three points at quarter time.

Taking advantage of an empty forward 50, Airlie Runnalls kicked an open goal to put the Dockers back into the lead with a four-point buffer before the main break.

The Dockers looked certain to build on their margin when Makaela Tuhakaraina snapped the ball between the sticks, but the ball struck the umpire.

Without a score review in the women’s game, it was deemed a behind.

A big decision here costs Fremantle what appeared to be a goal. A big moment in the context of this game and finals race.

Reminder: A Sydney win will likely earn them a finals spot over St Kilda.

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— Fox Footy (@FOXFOOTY) November 5, 2023

Fremantle skipper Hayley Miller put matters into her own hands, running into an empty forward 50 before putting boot to ball, but she sprayed her shot to the right.

Dockers skipper Hayley Miller threatened to take control of the game, but a brace of three goals from Lochland, Molloy and Ham sealed the win.

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