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Opinion

2021 AFL Women's grand final preview

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Roar Guru
13th April, 2021
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After nine rounds of jam-packed action and four finals matches, it is left to the Adelaide Crows and Brisbane Lions to fight it out for this year’s AFL Women’s premiership cup.

After a disappointing 2020 season that saw them miss out on the chance to defend their title, which they would not have got the chance to do anyway had they qualified for the finals, Matthew Clarke’s side finished as minor premiers, losing just two games for the season.

In their preliminary final, the Crows reversed their Round 7 loss to Melbourne with a convincing 18-point win at the Adelaide Oval, which was marshalled by Ebony Marinoff and Anne Hatchard, who gathered 62 disposals between them.

The result saw them qualify for the grand final for the third time in five years, having also been successful in 2017 and 2019 when they beat the Brisbane Lions and Carlton in those respective years to claim the flag, the latter in front of over 50,000 fans at the Oval.

By virtue of the fact that there was no premiership cup awarded in 2020, after the season was terminated at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Crows are technically still the defending premiers and as such are seeking back-to-back cups.

But even though they will have the home-ground advantage for the second time in three years, they’ll have to make do without their captain, Chelsea Randall, who has been ruled out after suffering a concussion in her side’s preliminary final win over Melbourne.

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But they are not without star power, with players such as Stevie-Lee Thompson, Erin Phillips and Ebony Marinoff all a chance to become the first ever triple AFL’s premiership players.

It will not come easy against the Brisbane Lions, who will be hoping that it is third time lucky after losing to the Crows and Western Bulldogs in the 2017 and 2018 deciders, respectively.

Craig Starcevich’s side finished third in their conference last year, after which they lost convincingly to Carlton in the quarter-final.

The Lions enjoyed another strong season this year, despite spending the majority of the season on the road due to travel restrictions arising from separate COVID-19 outbreaks in Victoria and Queensland.

That hasn’t deterred them from another season of strong on-field results, which included a huge win over the Gold Coast Suns as they restricted their M1 neighbours to the lowest-ever score in the history of the competition, 0.2 (2).

They also broke Fremantle’s 11-match winning streak with an 11-point win in Perth in Round 5, while they also dealt Collingwood their first defeat of the season, in Round 7.

Going into the final round, Brisbane had the chance to claim their first minor premiership since 2017, but lost to Melbourne by just two points at Casey Fields, the result seeing them settle for second on the ladder.

After a first-week finals bye, they then edged out Collingwood by four points in the preliminary final, with Greta Bodey and Dakota Davidson both kicking a goal each in the final quarter to send them through to a third decider.

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Ally Anderson was among their best with 24 disposals while Cathy Svarc did her best to quell the influence of Brianna Davey, though the Pies captain claimed that individual battle.

The results of the two preliminary finals means that the Western Bulldogs will remain the only Victorian team to have triumphed overall, in 2018.

The Lions need to draw on all their power and experience if they are to take down the dominant machine that is the Adelaide Crows, and doing so at the Oval will be no easy task.

Meantime, the Crows will be gunning to cement their place as the greatest side in the fledgling history of the competition.

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The two teams have previously met once in a grand final, with the Crows winning the inaugural decider by 4.11 (35) to 4.5 (29) on the Gold Coast in 2017. This season’s regular fixture saw the Crows win by 6.9 (45) to 5.3 (33) at Hickey Park in Round 4.

The match will be televised on the Seven Network nationally, with first bounce at 2pm (AEST).

Match predictions
• Despite being without captain Chelsea Randall, the home advantage will get the Crows home – by less than a kick.
• Erin Phillips will again claim the best-on-ground medal and become the first woman to win this honour three times, after doing so in 2017 and 2019.
• If the Lions win, look no further than Kate Lutkins or Ally Anderson as their best-on-ground.
• Stevie-Lee Thompson will kick the first goal and most overall, while Phillips, Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff will garner at least 60 disposals between them.