ADELAIDE will host Carlton in the 2019 AFLW Grand Final after thrashing Geelong by 66 points on Sunday.
The Crows were dominant from the first siren to the last, holding the Cats scoreless until the 12-minute mark of the final term in the 11.7 (73) to 1.1 (7) win at Adelaide Oval.
Geelong now has the unwanted record of the lowest ever AFLW score, pipping both Melbourne and Brisbane's efforts of eight points earlier in the season.
It was the usual suspects who stood up for Adelaide, with superstar Erin Phillips breaking a Melissa Hickey tag early to finish with 22 disposals.
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She was well supported by Ebony Marinoff (27, two goals and 10 tackles) and Anne Hatchard (19), while Chelsea Randall, Sarah Allan and Marijana Rajcic swept up well in defence.
The Cats' big task was made harder by the late withdrawal of All Australian squad member Maddy McMahon with concussion. She was replaced by young defender Georgia Clarke.
Adelaide came out with purpose in the first quarter, kicking its first goal through star midfielder Marinoff, the monkey off her back after kicking her first goal in three years last week.
It was a match to savour for Crows fans, with the team kicking two goals in the first and second terms, another three in the third and finishing with a bag of four.
Led by Richelle Cranston and young midfielder Olivia Purcell, Geelong battled hard around the ball early, but Adelaide was simply a class above – its three AFLW seasons compared to Geelong's one showing.
In a dismal end to the season for Geelong, key backs Meg McDonald and Anna Teague worked hard, while Cassie Blakeway had her best game for the season, running hard.
Rolling the dice
Already underdogs, Geelong went into the match without star key forward Phoebe McWilliams (broken hand). Without an obvious replacement, coach Paul Hood and the match committee decided to do something different. Fellow key forward Kate Darby was moved to the wing, with defender Denby Taylor swapping ends with Mia-Rae Clifford. Richelle Cranston and Julia Crockett-Grills spent time forward in an attempt to add some pace up front. With the ball simply not getting down there, it was difficult to judge if the changes worked.
Young Crow Danielle Ponter came into the competition this year with the heavy weight of her family heritage, being the niece of Michael Long and cousin of Cyril Rioli. But she has stood up remarkably well in her first season, and none more so than in the preliminary final. The 19-year-old may have only had six disposals, but she kicked three goals, the second of which was a highly skilled set shot close to the boundary.
- Ebony Marinoff of the Crows celebrates a goal during the 2019 NAB AFLW Second Preliminary Final match between the Crows and Cats.
- Ebony Marinoff of the Crows celebrates a goal with team mates during the 2019 NAB AFLW Second Preliminary Final match between the Crows and the Cats.
- Erin Phillips of the Crows is tackled by Cassie Blakeway of the Cats during the 2019 NAB AFLW Second Preliminary Final match the Crows and the Cats.
- Deni Varnhagen of the Crows is tackled by Richelle Cranston of the Cats during the 2019 NAB AFLW Second Preliminary Final match.
- Danielle Orr of the Cats evades Eloise Jones of the Crows during the 2019 NAB AFLW Second Preliminary Final match between the Crows and the Cats.
- Ailish Considine of the Crows celebrates a goal with team mates Courtney Cramey and Renee Forth during the 2019 NAB AFLW Second Preliminary Final.
- Richelle Cranston of the Cats is tackled by Marijana Rajcic of the Crows during the 2019 NAB AFLW Second Preliminary Final match.
- A dejected Mia-Rae Clifford of the Cats during the 2019 NAB AFLW Second Preliminary Final match between the Adelaide Crows and the Geelong Cats.
- Danielle Ponter and Marijana Rajcic of the Crows celebrate victory as Richelle Cranston of the Cats looks dejected.
- Chelsea Randall and Stevie-Lee Thompson of the Crows celebrate victory during the 2019 NAB AFLW Second Preliminary Final match.
Is another Crow favourite for the club best and fairest?
While Erin Phillips is hot favourite for her second AFLW best and fairest (she previously won in 2017), teammate Ebony Marinoff may be one preventing her from also winning the Crows' award. No longer just a tackling machine, Marinoff is a genuine ball-winner and clearance player, with a disposal "low" of 17 coming in round two against Carlton. Club best and fairests often throw up different results to the umpires' views, and Marinoff's well-rounded performances and consistency could get her across the line after two third-place finishes.
A Sunday Grand Final
Despite a hole in round two of the AFL fixture seemingly tailor-made for a Saturday afternoon AFLW Grand Final, the AFL has confirmed the season decider will be played on Sunday. Port Adelaide and Carlton playing in the Saturday twilight spot at Adelaide Oval throws up logistical challenges in clearing the stadium between games (AFLW is not ticketed while AFL is), with a Sunday decider also giving both teams at least seven days' rest.
"It was a pretty comprehensive performance in all phases. Obviously, our defence over the last two weeks has been at a really high level. I thought round one was a really strong defensive performance and I thought last week we were back at that level and there again today. Defence was really good, the back five held it together really well." – Adelaide coach Matthew Clarke
"The main message I conveyed to the players is I'm really proud of them as people. Clearly as footballers, we're still evolving. It's pretty hard to learn on the job in your first season and Adelaide is a magnificent team and tested us today. Our playing group has been tested all season, from round one when we lost our best young player at training the next week, four interstate trips in the last six weeks of the season and so many hurdles they've had to overcome, they just keep turning up. It caught up with us a little bit today." – Geelong coach Paul Hood
Adelaide will host Carlton in its second AFLW Grand Final on Sunday, with the game to be played at Adelaide Oval from 12.30pm ACDT. The Cats will be left to lick their wounds but will be happy to have qualified for a preliminary final in their first season. The trade and signing period starts on April 8.
ADELAIDE 2.2 4.4 7.6 11.7 (73)
GEELONG 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.1 (7)
Adelaide: Ponter 3, Scheer 2, Marinoff 2, Jones, Considine, J. Foley, Randall
Adelaide: Marinoff, Phillips, J. Foley, Randall, Ponter, Rajcic
Geelong: McDonald, Blakeway, Garing, Teague
Adelaide: Cramey (head knock)
Geelong: McMahon (concussion, replaced in selected side by Clarke), Clarke (head knock)
Umpires: Broadbent, Rebeschini, Johanson
Crowd: 13,429 at Adelaide Oval