By Ant Wingard
The unconventional events that unfolded on Wednesday night helped lay claim to one of the more bizarre finals qualification scenarios of recent times.
But alas, when the league’s media release was sent through at 8:30pm AEST, it was the confirmation all Queensland football fans were eager to read.
Both Brisbane and Gold Coast will play in the AFLW finals in 2020 – the former who are the lone expansion team to make the grade in just their first season in the competition.
The decision – which nullified the final two rounds of the home and away season ahead in favour of a top four finals series across both conferences – took time to process but undoubtedly ensures top-flight women’s football in Queensland remains present for at least one more week.
Brisbane for one, were training – as they do, at Leyshon Park on Wednesday nights, and were unaware of what was to come.
At first, it was uncertainty. While there was always a glimmer of hope, the structure of the finals was not really known.
It wasn’t until after training when the team found out about their qualification via phone call which sent them to their third finals series in four seasons.
“I’m so happy,” first year Lion Lily Postlethwaite said after the announcement.
“We weren’t really sure what the finals structure was going to look like, so when we found out we were in we were super excited.”
The Lions will face a trip to Ikon Park to face Carlton this weekend while Queensland’s other AFLW franchise will face another long trip to Perth to face Conference B frontrunners Fremantle.
The SUNS leapfrogged the Crows into fourth place in Conference A after their biggest win of the season against fellow competition freshmen West Coast.
On the back of four goals to lively forward Kalinda Howarth, the SUNS did enough to qualify – the second time an expansion team has qualified for the finals in their first season.
It comes as no surprise that both the Lions and SUNS find themselves in the finals after all given the strength of football in the state.
Both sides boast a wealth of local talent in their squads who like Howarth and Brisbane’s Jesse Wardlaw, have been instrumental in their rise across the season.
While no one could have ever imaged at the start of the season this is how both sides would make the finals, many in the sunshine state would’ve been coy about them still in the mix at the pointy end.
Now, that is a reality.
NAB AFLW Finals
Saturday 21 March
Kangaroos v Collingwood
Ikon Park – 11:40am AEST
GWS v Melbourne
GIANTS Stadium – 1:40pm AEST
Fremantle v Gold Coast
Fremantle Oval – 3:40pm AEST
Sunday 22 March
Carlton v Brisbane
Ikon Park – 12:10 AEST