Saturday, April 01, 2017

Adelaide Crows: 2017 AFL Women's Premiers



ADELAIDE has defied the odds to create history as the first NAB AFLW premier.

The Crows fought off a late challenge to upset previously unbeaten favourites the Brisbane Lions by six points in a tense Grand Final at Metricon Stadium on Saturday.

Adelaide won 4.11 (35) to 4.5 (29).



Brilliantly led by co-captains Erin Phillips and Chelsea Randall, the visitors controlled the contest for three quarters before the Lions crept within five points in a desperate last-quarter fling at victory.

After being outplayed for most of the contest, the Lions threw everything into the final term and a mark and goal from Tayla Harris cut the margin to inside a goal. But the Crows stood firm, limiting the home team's scoring chances with an extra player behind the ball for most of the game.

Phillips was inspirational and ran herself to exhaustion, finishing with an impressive 28 possessions and two vital third-quarter goals that set up the scoreboard buffer.

And Randall did a crucial stopper job at full-back on the dangerous Harris, keeping the high-leaping Lion kickless in the first half.

Harris even moved to the wing at the start of the second half to try to get into the contests and she had a spell on the interchange bench early in the third quarter.

It was a stunning triumph for Crows coach Bec Goddard, who has all the players at her disposal only on game-day, with a large group of the list based in Darwin during the week.

Adelaide grabbed the early lead with two freakish goals in the opening term, unlikely snapshots from tight angles that were gold in a low-scoring contest.

It was virtually the first play of the game when Crow Kellie Gibson ran onto a loose ball and snapped around the body on the run from 35m for the perfect start.

And Deni Varnhagen added another from the opposite pocket, this time a left-foot snapshot from near the boundary line for only her second goal of the season.

Considering the Crows' inside 50 domination, they should have taken a far greater advantage than six points into the main break.

Their system was superior in the first half, based on the midfield grunt of Phillips and the ability to get numbers back when the Lions started a surge out of the backline.


But Adelaide squandered the second-term control, managing only 0.6 from so many chances inside their forward half. The lopsided inside 50 count, with the Crows' leading 26-11 in the first half, emphasised their impressive work-rate but poor return.

It was a goal against the run of play from Jessica Wuetschner in the second quarter that kept Brisbane in touch in a defence-dominated contest.

The Lions finally found their share of the contested ball in the last quarter and threatened to send the match into overtime. But the determined Crows were not going to let their earlier hard work go to waste and held on until the final siren.



Blink and you missed it
The Crows couldn't have scripted a more perfect start to their Grand Final campaign. From the opening bounce, Courtney Cramey fired a long clearing kick from the congestion inside the 50m arc. Kellie Gibson outsprinted her opponent to grab the loose ball and threw it onto the right boot from 35m on a tight angle for a superb team-lifting goal.

Got the job done
Defenders often get overlooked for their diligent shutdown work and Crow Chelsea Randall and Lions counterpart Leah Kaslar certainly earned high praise. Randall didn't give Lions high-flyer Tayla Harris a sniff of the ball for three quarters, condemning her to a spell on the interchange bench in the third term. And Kaslar was equally gallant, keeping Crows cult forward Sarah Perkins goalless.


Marquee magic
Lions ruckman Sabrina Frederick-Traub did everything in her power to get her team over the line. The West Australian marquee pick underlined her skills with a brilliant mark against the flight of the ball in the second quarter. She spun around and broke free, took two bounces and was crunched after firing a long kick forward. Teammate Jessica Wuetschner benefited from the relayed free kick to boot her second goal to keep the Lions in touch.

History repeats
The romance of Adelaide's women's team winning a premiership on the 20-year anniversary of the same feat by the male counterparts wasn't lost on defender Tailia Radan. Radan remembers, as an eight-year-old, having her Crows jumper signed by forward Matthew Robran after training at Football Park during the 1997 AFL Grand Final week. To fly to the Gold Coast to seek the first premiership flag was no chore for nine of the 27-woman squad based in Darwin who travelled every week of the inaugural NAB AFLW season. The Darwin girls are estimated to have flown more than 45,000km during the seven-week home-and-away season, including two induction camps.


BRISBANE LIONS     1.0     2.1     3.3     4.5 (29)
ADELAIDE     2.1     2.7     4.9     4.11 (35)

GOALS

Brisbane Lions: Wuetschner 2, Frederick-Traub, Harris
Adelaide: Phillips 2, Gibson, Varnhagen

BEST
Brisbane Lions: Bates, Frederick-Traub, Virgo, Kaslar, Hunt, Ashmore
Adelaide: Phillips, Randall, Marinoff, Cramey, Gibson, Bevan

INJURIES
Brisbane Lions: Koenen (ankle)
Adelaide: Anderson (shoulder)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Rodger, Bryce and Cheeve

Official crowd: 15,610 at Metricon Stadium
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