The AFL coaching carousel has claimed another victim, with embattled Adelaide coach Don Pyke today resigning with two years left on his contract.
After seven rounds of action and two lopsided preliminary finals, only one match is left in the 2019 AFL Women’s season and on Sunday, the Adelaide Crows and Carlton Blues will fight it out for the premiership at the Adelaide Oval.
Both the Crows and Blues finished at the top of their respective conferences after the regular season, with the Crows winning their last seven after losing to the Western Bulldogs by just one point in the first round, and the Blues winning five of their last six after losing their first two matches under new coach Daniel Harford.
Both sides were ruthless in their respective preliminary finals, with the Crows smothering the Geelong Cats out of the contest at the Adelaide Oval and Carlton seeing off a first-quarter challenge from Fremantle to become the fourth different club to qualify for the grand final.
Again, Crows co-captain Erin Phillips – who is firming in favouritism for the AFLW’s best and fairest award – proved unstoppable with 22 disposals, while Ebony Marinoff picked up 22 possessions and kicked two majors as the Crows kept the Cats scoreless until the dying moments of the final quarter.
Apart from Phillips and Marinoff enjoying successful seasons individually, Stevie-Lee Thompson has also topped the goal-kicking with 13 goals for the season, one more than last year’s leading goal-kicker, the Western Bulldogs’ Brooke Lochland.
Meanwhile, after a huge week off the field, Tayla Harris let her football do the talking as the Blues defeated Fremantle by six goals, with Darcy Vescio and Brianna Davey also among their best players.
For the club, it shapes as a huge weekend for their fans in the City of Churches, with the men’s side also in town for their clash against Port Adelaide at the same venue the previous day.
Twelve months after claiming the wooden spoon, they will also have the chance to complete the greatest single season turnaround in AFL/AFLW history by winning the flag, which would be the first for club in any capacity since 1995.
It will also be the first grand final for the Blues in any capacity since 1999, when the men’s team lost to North Melbourne by 35 points a week after famously defeating Essendon by one point in the preliminary final.
As the Crows finished with more premiership points than the Blues, the match will be played at the Adelaide Oval, where the hosts will start as huge favourites to secure their second flag in three seasons and cement themselves as the most successful side in the AFLW’s short history.
The match will be televised on the Seven Network nationally. First bounce is at 12.40pm Adelaide time this Sunday, March 31.
Adelaide Crows lead the head-to-head encounters 3-0, and defeated the Blues earlier this season in Round 2, 9.3 (57) to 7.2 (44) at Ikon Park.
The stats that matter
My predictions? The Adelaide Crows by 20 points, with Stevie-Lee Thompson booting the first goal and Erin Phillips winning best on ground.