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Suns, Bulldogs settle for draw in AFLW cliffhanger

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Gold Coast and the Western Bulldogs have played out the first draw of the AFLW season in Carrara.

Trailing by 24 points at three-quarter time, the Bulldogs mounted a spirited final-quarter comeback but neither team could find a winner as the match finished 6.5 (41) apiece.

It is a result that does nothing to help either team’s finals aspirations, leaving them two points outside the top six with three matches to play.

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Teenager Charlie Rowbottom appeared to have set the Suns on the path to a crucial win with a dominant performance that produced 24 disposals — including 17 contested possessions — and her first AFLW goal.

But the Bulldogs refused to go away, kicking four goals in 10 minutes at the start of the fourth quarter to erase the deficit before both teams traded behinds.

Bonnie Toogood had the last chance to snatch the victory but the Bulldog missed everything with her late shot, leaving both teams to settle for two points each.

Suns’ leading goal kicker Tara Bohanna had two majors, while Nell Morris-Dalton’s pair of fourth-quarter goals were crucial for the Bulldogs.

Belted by 69 points against the Brisbane Lions last Thursday, the Suns made a perfect start when Sarah Perkins kicked a booming goal from outside the 50-metre arc in the opening minutes.

The full-forward was guilty of missing a much easier chance later in the opening term, as the Suns held a seven-point advantage at the first change.

Those missed chances proved costly when the Bulldogs fought back at the start of the second quarter, with captain Ellie Blackburn’s shift into the forward line having an immediate impact.

Having tweaked an ankle in the first quarter, Blackburn positioned herself at the top of the goal square and brought the ball to ground for Britney Gutknecht to grubber through.

The Bulldogs got the scores to parity before Bohanna scored back-to-back goals to restore the Suns’ advantage.

But an error in defence by Vivien Saad just before half-time allowed Jessica Fitzgerald to get the visitors within a kick at the main break.

Gold Coast dominated the third term, kicking three unanswered goals through Rowbottom, Tori Groves-Little and Jacqui Dupuy to take a 24-point lead into the final quarter.

Morris-Dalton got the Bulldogs off to a good start in the fourth term, kicking truly after receiving a free kick.

Kirsty Lamb’s tenacious individual effort moments late cut the margin back to 12 and had the Bulldogs right back into the contest.

Morris-Dalton’s second of the quarter levelled the scores and set up a grandstand finish where time ran out before a winner could be found.

AAP/ABC

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