JUST in case there was any lingering doubt, Adelaide has firmly cemented its claim as the first dynasty of the NAB AFLW competition, defeating Melbourne by 13 points to win its third premiership.
As they say in the classics, the 4.5 (29) to 2.4 (16) result at Adelaide Oval was a game of high intensity halves.
Adelaide reigned supreme in the first, but didn't fully capitalise on the scoreboard, while Melbourne's pressure and hard work got them back into the contest in the second.
The Dees had closed the gap to seven points in the final term, but Adelaide found a rare bit of space on the open side of the ground, coolly and calmly finding targets before Danielle Ponter's second – accelerating away from her defender – sealed the deal.
CROWS v DEMONS Full match coverage and stats
The inclusion of Jasmyn Hewett as ruck cover for the suspended Montana McKinnon paid immediate dividends, taking a mark on the goal-line and converting a set shot for the opening goal, 10 minutes into the game.
Adelaide was playing with the maturity and discipline that comes with being in your fourth Grand Final. That's not to say Melbourne was panicking – not by any stretch – but the Crows were well structured both in defence and around the stoppages.
On many occasions, the Dees looked in-board for their well-used 45-degree kick, but the Crows were wise to the maneuverer, pushing a midfielder into the hole.
Erin Phillips brought up her 50th career goal in style, snapping truly after two behinds from teammates at the start of the second quarter.
Melbourne broke through in a meaningful way in the dying minutes of the second quarter, when last week's hero Alyssa Bannan intercepted a kick across goal, hitting the contest with speed and kicking truly, and taking the margin to just 10 at the main break.
In fact, it looked like Melbourne's best way to score was with speed – pushing Tayla Harris high up the ground and letting the smalls feast out the back, as Kate Hore did.
Melbourne owned the remainder of the quarter, but as hard as they pushed, Adelaide's formidable backline clung on for dear life, and it was nine points the difference at three-quarter time.
Anne Hatchard's work-rate and clearance dominance was key to the win, while Sinead Goldrick and Gabby Colvin were highly impressive in defence for Melbourne.
Important Demons playmaker Maddi Gay sat out most of the second quarter with a right knee injury but returned, while both Teah Charlton and Najwa Allen's days ended after a head collision in the third. Casey Sherriff suffered a suspected broken left arm in the final term.
Heartbreak for Daisy's Dees
If indeed Daisy Pearce hangs up the boots at the end of this season, she can do so in style. The skipper was swung to defence in the second half and was a key conduit in turning up the pressure gauge, and even finished the match on the wing. Harris' record of three Grand Finals for three different sides (coincidentally all against Adelaide) has resulted in three losses.
Undermanned Crows hold up
On a very hot day in Adelaide, the Crows' tenacity in holding up under Melbourne's incredible pressure was the key to the win. What was even more impressive was the fact the Crows held on with just three on the bench from halfway in the third quarter onwards.
Seven Crows have reached rarefied air after Saturday's result, having played in each of the 2017, 2019 and 2022 premierships. Anne Hatchard, Ebony Marinoff, Justine Mules, Erin Phillips, Chelsea Randall, Sarah Allan and Stevie-Lee Thompson have set a record that will be very difficult to beat.
ADELAIDE 1.1 2.5 3.5 4.5 (29)
MELBOURNE 0.0 1.1 2.2 2.4 (16)
Adelaide: Ponter 2, Hewett, Phillips
Melbourne: Bannan, Hore
Adelaide: Hatchard, Marinoff, Ponter, Martin, Allan
Melbourne: Paxman, Goldrick, Colvin, Hanks, Mithen
Adelaide: Charlton (head knock), N. Allen (head knock)
Melbourne: Gay (right knee), Sherriff (fractured left wrist)
Crowd: 16,712 at Adelaide Oval
Did you head to the footy over the weekend? Tell us your thoughts! Take the survey now