Perth’s AUL season has ended at the hand of the Adelaide Dragons in round five, the grand final hopefuls suffering a 2-1 loss.
The Power had it all to play for in this match, with a 3-0 victory ensuring them a place in the AUL grand final alongside Sydney while a 2-1 win would have kept them in the hunt before Saturday’s match between Melbourne and Brisbane.
But it was the Dragons who showed up with more intensity, more aggresion and more hunger as they claimed their second win of the season.
It was a huge result for Adelaide, who went winless in 2018, to bounce back and show the AUL they can not be taken lightly any more.
For Perth, though, it means their season is over with the winner of Melbourne and Brisbane to secure the final berth.
Adelaide strike early in sparkling offensive display
Perth may have had more at stake, but it was Adelaide that bolted out of the blocks early through goals to Tom Deller and Sally Yu to open up a 2-0 lead.
As she has most of the season, Di Worman had the disc on a string and she found Sean Davis with pinpoint accuracy to compound the pain for Perth.
An Adelaide turnover allowed Annie Jessop to peg one back and then some more aggresive play set up Monte Masarei to bring Perth back to within one goal.
A huge block from Davis halted another attacking raid and it was Davis again who laid off the assist for Michael Kelly to score.
Then a long-range pass found Yu and Adelaide stretched out to a 5-2 lead with just five minutes remaining in the set.
Ash McInnes gave Perth a sniff with her late goal, but Adelaide quickly replied with two more to Kelly and Mandy Fung to take the set 7-3.
Perth finish second set strongly, but Adelaide seal the win
Perth’s season was hanging by a thread and Adelaide intensified the pressure with the opening goals of the second set through Aaron Neal and Lachlan McDonald.
Some strong defensive plays from both sides created moments for the highlight reel and Masarei cashed in for his second goal of the match to bring Perth back into the set – and the match.
Davis struck again but Simone Ryan did very well to reel in a long pass from Kyal Oh to keep Perth hanging on.
Fung scored again for Adelaide and the Dragons were getting the job done on the defensive end as well, with Deller blocking out a Perth attempt and handing his side back possession.
Perth needed a spark and they found it through Ryan, who scored a vital goal for Perth before Peter Eley made it a double as the Power locked up the scores at 4-4 with four minutes remaining in the set.
Adelaide retained their composure, though, with further goals to Fung and McDonald that sealed the set 6-4 and gave Adelaide their second win of the season.
Power claim final set, but lose the match
Perth secured the first goal of the final set as they launched a more cavalier approach with the match already lost.
Both teams gave away crucial errors in the scrappy early exchanges before Davis was able to level up the scores for Adelaide.
The teams traded another goal each to bring the scores to 2-2, but the scoring opportunities were drying up in the final set.
Perth claimed their first lead of the match through Alicia Lim and were able to complete the job to take the set 6-4, although Neal provided the final highlight of the match with a towering grab for Adelaide to score the last goal of the match.