Sydney have qualified for a maiden AFLW finals series in thrilling style, kicking away from Fremantle to win an arm wrestle by 22 points at Fremantle Oval and claim a finals berth in just its second season.
The Swans will join fellow 2022 expansion team Essendon in playing finals so soon after entering the competition, bumping a devastated St Kilda out of the top eight in the process with the 5.10 (40) to 2.6 (18) win.
It all came down to the final quarter at Fremantle Oval, with the Swans holding a three-point lead at the last break against a desperate Freo team that appeared intent on finishing its own season on a high and spoiling Sydney's November plans.
The visitors controlled the final quarter, however, kicking the only three goals of the term to break open an entertaining match that was played with a ferocious intensity as neither team gave an inch, with the final margin not reflecting the tightness of the match.
The result was laced in some controversy after Fremantle were denied a third quarter goal that would have given them the lead. Makaela Tuhakaraina's snap cannoned into the umpire and was ruled a behind, despite being on course for a goal.
It didn't matter in the end, however, as the Swans took care of business, with superstar recruit Chloe Molloy stepping up in the final quarter to kick her second goal and give the team much-needed breathing room down the stretch.
Midfield gun Laura Gardiner was outstanding with a game-high 33 disposals and five clearances, while Tanya Kennedy played a crucial role on Kiara Bowers and had an impact offensively with 16 disposals and four clearances.
It was hard work at times for Molloy against a stoic Freo defence, but the star broke free at critical times and kicked two goals that shaped the game.
Fremantle entered the round a slim mathematical chance of playing finals, but those chances were dashed by the time bouncedown came around on Sunday afternoon, with only pride to play for after one season under coach Lisa Webb.
Freo were best served by influential ruck Mim Strom (41 hit-outs) and midfielders Bowers (21 and 18 tackles) and Dana East (24 and eight clearances). Defender Emma O'Driscoll was outstanding several times on the last line of defence.
In a low-scoring game with so much on the line, Makaela Tuhakaraina's disallowed goal in the third quarter shaped as a pivotal moment. The Freo speedster bolted through the midfield and kicked long inside 50 to Miller, whose own shot refused to cross the line and stayed in play. Tuhakaraina followed up and snapped what was destined to be a goal until it hit the goal umpire, who ruled the ball was on track for the post. Replays showed otherwise, with Fremantle – and St Kilda – within their rights to be upset with the pivotal call.
The Swans get ready for a maiden finals appearance after emotional post-match celebrations. Fremantle's season comes to an end and the team will look to build on an improved finish to the year under Webb and returning to finals in the coach's second season.
FREMANTLE 1.1 2.3 2.4 2.6 (18)
SYDNEY 1.4 1.5 2.7 5.10 (40)
Fremantle: O'Sullivan, Runnalls
Sydney: Molloy 2, Ham, Lochland, Privitelli
Fremantle: Bowers, East, Strom, O'Driscoll, Seth
Sydney: Gardiner, Molloy, Kennedy, Heads, Privitelli
Sydney: Steane (knee), Mitchell (finger), Ham (head)
Crowd: 2271 at Fremantle Oval