Sydney may be the unbeaten favourites, but they will face a surging Brisbane in the AUL grand final after the Breakers dispatched defending champions Melbourne.
Before a single disc had been thrown in anger prior to the AUL season, Sydney and Brisbane had been earmarked as teams to watch because of their strong rosters.
Sydney cruised their way to the grand final with five straight wins, but Brisbane had to take the hard road to reach the decider.
Two straight losses had Brisbane’s season on life support, but an incredible turnaround has seen the Breakers notch up three straight wins to carry enormous momentum into the grand final.
Melbourne had it all to play for in round five of the AUL, as a win would have seen them advance instead of Brisbane.
But the Breakers were too efficient, too sturdy in defence and too hungry to be denied as they notched up a 3-0 victory.
For Melbourne, it has been a brave season punctuated by injuries that cost them Georgia Egan-Griffiths and Tom Tullett and left new recruit Simar Dhaliwal struggling with a leg injury.
The Flames tried hard to overcome those losses, but ultimately the class of Brisbane was enough to secure their spot in the final at Leichhardt Oval in Sydney on October 12.
Brisbane edge ahead in tense first set
Josh de Bell scored an early goal for Melbourne, but it was a defensive grind typical of two teams fighting for their post-season lives after that.
Both sides had opportunities and in the end Rosa Wang came back to haunt her former Melbourne teammates, scoring for the Breakers to lock up the scores 1-1.
Defence remained the hallmark for both sides who struggled to build offensive pressure, de Bell and Brett Matzuka trading goals as neither side would give an inch.
Risks needed to be taken and Brisbane’s Liam Grimmond delivered with a hammer throw for Sam McGuckin who snapped the deadlock with seven minutes to play.
Lochlan Wise levelled again for Melbourne, but goals to Ava Mueller and John McNaughton – off a Matzuka intercept – was enough for the Breakers to seal the first set 5-3.
Breakers surge ahead to take the second set and the match
Brisbane came out of the first break full of confidence and it took just two minutes for McNaughton to score for the Breakers to claim an early lead.
Matzuka and McNaughton were able to weave the disc through traffic with ease and McGuckin cashed in, before a tracer bullet of a pass from Dom Simpson found Rachel Parsons to extend the lead to 3-0.
A sensational pass from Loughlin Murphy found McGuckin for another Breakers goal, but it wasn’t just the offensive end where Brisbane was dominating as their lock-down defence was shutting Melbourne out of the match.
Shannon Trenwith gave the Flames some hope when she cut through with five minutes left to play but that effort was cancelled out by a flying McGuckin layout block to stop a certain Melbourne goal.
Seb Barr did grab a consolation goal for Melbourne in the dying seconds of the set, but it was the Breakers who claimed the championship points with a 4-2 win.
And then Brisbane was able to runaway with the third set as well, claiming a 5-2 set win to put the icing on the cake.