Freak goal fired James' AFLW finals debut

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Redemption came quickly for livewire Collingwood forward Eliza James after a horror start to her AFLW finals debut.

In the opening minutes of Sunday's elimination final against the Western Bulldogs, the 19-year-old ran into an open goal - and spectacularly sprayed her kick.

But moments later James was tucked deep in a pocket, with Bulldogs defenders applying plenty of heat, when she snapped an outrageous goal from the outside of her boot.

She went on to kick another three - the first AFLW player to put through four goals in a final - as they beat the Bulldogs by five points.

"When there's pressure around me, I can kick a goal," James said.

"When there's no pressure around me ... it's really weird."

Immediately after that shocker of a miss, James made sure to keep her head right.

"I was really proud of myself," she said.

"Normally after a miss like that, I get really hard on myself and get into my head.

"But I didn't let that disrupt my game."

She said her first goal was pure instinct.

"I just got the ball and I like little trick shots like that. It happened so quickly - thankfully it went in," she said.

"I was pumped up - I proved to myself that (first shot) was a silly miss.

"It was a really big confidence boost."

That first-quarter turnaround was a snapshot of what James learned in her first final.

"Just play the game, every minute - don't think ahead," she said.

Her breakout game will mean extra homework for Adelaide defence ahead of Saturday's semi-final at Unley Oval.

It also earned plenty of praise from her teammates.

"Wasn't she a little jet?," Collingwood defender Stacey Livingstone said.

"The thing I don't get is you miss (the goal) running in, but then you can snap it from the boundary. How the hell do you do that?

"It's really good to see, and especially for one of our little whippier players up forward, that she can come out in her first final and pull out four for us - that's incredible."


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