Merciless Crows march into grand final
In a dominant, hard-running and merciless display, the Adelaide Crows have marched into next Sunday's AFLW grand final by beating an insipid Geelong by 66 points.
After holding the Cats scoreless until the 12th minute-mark of the last quarter, Adelaide will now take on Carlton for the AFLW premiership on March 31, most likely again at the Adelaide Oval.
The Crows skinned the Cats in every way, beating them comprehensively across the field: and it showed in the numbers. Adelaide won the inside-50s (45 to 14), clearances (30 to 19) and disposals (238 to 171).
But it was their tackle count 84 to the Cats' 47, that really shows just how pressured and fierce the Crows were, holding Geelong to the lowest ever AFLW score.
Ebony Marinoff was busy early and when she snapped a goal - her second in her lucrative AFLW career - the Crows were on the scoreboard.
But despite being held scoreless, Geelong always seemed in it this quarter. At selection time, the Cats brought in three defenders into the team and the move paid dividends: despite Geelong's defence being peppered constantly with Adelaide's 11 inside-50s for the quarter, they were able to repel the Crows advances.
If Geelong were going into this game as underdogs, it was for good reason.
They came into this preliminary final having lost more games than won (three wins, four losses) and their season percentage was almost 150 points below Adelaide's (65.5 to Crows 212.9).
They had scored three goals in their last two minor round games. The Crows meanwhile have averaged 56 points per game.
And with their goalscoring capability further hampered after the withdrawal of key forward Phoebe McWilliams with a broken finger, it was as if coach Paul Hood decided that defence was the best form of attack.
Young gun Chloe Scheer got the Crows' second and the Adelaide went into quarter time 2.2. 14 to the scoreless Geelong.
Erin Phillips was being closely held by the likes of Cats captain Melissa Hickey and Madeline Keryk and they kept her to a very un-Phillips-like four possessions for the term, but as that close attention continued in quarter two, the co-captain found more freedom and picked up her tally.
It was youngsters Danielle Ponter and Eloise Jones who were impressing up forward and both kicked goals, while the defence continued to harass Geelong's forwards.
At this stage of the game, the Cats were being entirely overridden, across every area of the field, but particularly with the tackle count, which at half time stood at 42 to 17, showing the Crows intense pressure.
And that pressure just continued, with the team having seven individual goal-kickers including defensive co-captain Chelsea Randall.
The last time the Crows played Geelong in round three, Marinoff set an AFLW record for the most disposals with 33, and that record was on shaky ground. She ended with 27, 10 tackles and two goals.
In such an uneven preliminary final, the conference system is sure to come further fire.
But it matters little to the Crows who now set their eyes firmly on the grand final.
Adelaide: 2.2 14, 4.4 28, 7. 6 48, 11.7 73
Geelong: 0.0 0, 0.0. 0, 0.0. 0, 1.1 7
Adelaide: Ponter, 3, Marinoff, 2, Scheer, 2, Jones, Considine, J. Foley, Randall,
Adelaide: Marinoff, Phillips, J. Foley, Ponter, Randall, Rajcic
Geelong: McDonald, Blakeway, Hickey, Purcell
Injuries: Georgia Clarke (head knock)
Umpires: Broadbent, Rebeschini, Johanson
Crowd: 13,429 at Adelaide Oval