LIGHTNING strikes twice, so it was only fitting the skies above Unley Oval illuminated as reigning AFLW premier Adelaide kept its back-to-back premiership dream alive.
The Crows defied both the elements and a determined Collingwood to prevail by 12 points in a drama-filled semi-final on Saturday – winning 3.5 (23) to 1.5 (11).
CROWS v PIES Full match coverage and stats
It sets up a clash with Brisbane next weekend for the right to face either Melbourne or North Melbourne in the season seven decider.
There was nothing smooth about how the Crows punched their preliminary final ticket.
A 30-minute delay to the start of the game due to lightning was followed by another 43-minute delay at quarter-time as a severe thunderstorm caused havoc.
By that stage, the Crows had a handy two-goal buffer courtesy of goals to Eloise Jones – the equal-second-quickest in AFLW history at just 20 seconds after the first bounce - and Lisa Whitely.
Anne Hatchard's dribbling left-foot effort extended the margin to 3.3 (21) to 0.3 (3) at the main break.
The Crows had the game under control.
Eliza James' goal at the six-minute mark of the third quarter sparked life into the Magpies.
They were re-energised and full of vigour.
Spot fires broke out with a free kick reversed not once, but twice, due to off-the-ball indiscretions by both teams.
It was a torrid last quarter – neither side kicking a goal as the Crows hung on with a gutsy performance.
Ruck Caitlin Gould completely dominated her individual battle finishing with 28 hitouts to go with 14 disposals, including 12 contested possessions and seven clearances.
Hatchard overcame a slow start to finish with a game-high 24 disposals, but it was the Crows' high-pressing defence, led superbly by stand-in skipper Sarah Allan, that the Magpies couldn't get through.
Jaimee Lambert gathered 23 disposals to be best for the Magpies, who can hang their heads high after a strong campaign.
The first blow
It took just 20 seconds for Crows forward Eloise Jones to etch her name in the record books with the second-quickest goal in AFLW history. Caitlin Gould won the opening clearance and banged the ball forward. Rachelle Martin moved it on before Jones was in the right place at the right time to grubber it through.
Fastest opening goals in an #AFLW match:— Gemma 🔻 (@glbastiani) November 12, 2022
19 secs - D. Ponter (QF S7 v MEL)
20 secs - E.JONES (SF S7 v COLL), T. Lavey (RD2 S6 v MEL)
21 secs - K. Gibson (GF S1 v BRIS)
22 secs - R. Webster (RD10 S6 v GWS)
23 secs - E. Roberts (RD8 S7 v GEE)
Aishling Sheridan did a superb tagging job on Crows star onballer Ebony Marinoff, restricting the All-Australian to just 11 disposals. Anne Hatchard was quiet early with two first-quarter touches, however she got more involved after the thunderstorm stoppage to finish with 24 touches, while youngster Teah Charlton had 15 disposals. Magpies midfielder Jaimee Lambert worked hard with 23 disposals, but didn't have enough support.
The Crows will face Brisbane in a preliminary final next weekend at a venue to be decided, while season seven is over for the Magpies.
ADELAIDE 2.1 3.3 3.3 3.5 (23)
COLLINGWOOD 0.2 0.3 1.5 1.5 (11)
Adelaide: Jones, Whiteley, Hatchard
Adelaide: Gould, Hatchard, Charlton, Newman, Allan, Biddell
Collingwood: Lambert, Schleicher, Sheridan, Butler, Molloy, Chiocci
Crowd: 2,476 at Unley Oval