TWO FINAL-quarter goals from 20-year-old Abbie Ballard have helped Adelaide overrun Richmond by nine points at the Swinburne Centre.
The 5.6 (36) to 4.3 (27) loss consigns Richmond to a 0-2 start, having absolutely dominated nearly every facet of the game for the first three quarters in a heartbreaking loss.
TIGERS v CROWS Full match coverage and stats
Skipper Chelsea Randall played three quarters in the middle before being moved to half-forward, and the rejigged and more mature Crows outfit subsequently unsettled the Tigers, wresting control after the ball had lived in the home team's half.
It had appeared Richmond's goalkicking issues had followed it up the highway from GMHBA Stadium when Courtney Wakefield booted two behinds, only for Adelaide to quickly kick two majors, but the Tigers spearhead found the middle soon enough, booting two.
Richmond absolutely dominated territory in the first half, recording 24-6 inside 50s, with Adelaide backs Sarah Allan, Chelsea Biddell, Marijana Rajcic and Brooke Tonon defending grimly to hold the Tigers to only a two-point lead at the main break.
The third term was a torrid struggle, and it looked as if Adelaide was going to make Richmond pay for its inability to convert its dominance to scoreboard pressure, until defender Maddie Shevlin streamed forward to slot a running goal from 45m.
The small forwards from both sides enjoyed the work of the talls, with Emelia Yassir and Rachelle Martin snapping truly in the first half.
Monique Conti (26 disposals, five clearances) thrived going head-to-head with the likes of Anne Hatchard (26 and six) and Ebony Marinoff (22 and 11 tackles) in a star-studded midfield battle.
Richmond coach Ryan Ferguson revealed speedy midfielder Maddy Brancatisano had exited health and safety protocols at midnight on Friday night/Saturday morning, playing after missing a week of training and Sunday's last-minute loss to Geelong.
A tale of two teams
The match was a contrast in styles, with Richmond eager to lock the ball in its attacking half and aiming to get the ball forward at all costs with run, carry and pure chaos. By contrast, Adelaide wanted to control play with a kick-mark uncontested method. At one point in the third term, Richmond had 23 tackles inside 50 to zero, but poor disposal in its attacking zone and outstanding defence kept the Crows in the game.
Ballard's moment of glory
The young Crow hadn't kicked a goal at AFLW level before Saturday, but what a time to deliver. She intercepted a stray Bec Miller kick-in, converting from an acute angle to put the Crows up by one point with eight minutes remaining. Ballard followed up three minutes later with her second, sealing the win for the Crows.
"It was a great game. We were well and truly in strife in the third, but I thought the composure, the ability to stay calm in the break and reset and finish the game really strongly – we did have a slight breeze in that last quarter – particularly for some of our young players to experience that, Abbie kicks those two goals, so we were really happy to get our first win." – Adelaide coach Matthew Clarke
"The emotions are hard to explain. We're all flat as a tack in there. We've definitely moved on from competitive efforts, we're definitely ready to break through. We didn't break through today, so we're disappointed about that, but also we played a hell of a brand of footy and took it up to the reigning premier. We showed what we're capable of, but they showed us how to play big moments well and take your opportunities." – Richmond coach Ryan Ferguson
Richmond will host Hawthorn at the Swinburne Centre on Sunday, while Adelaide will face North Melbourne in a blockbuster at home on Saturday, with a time to be determined after the AFL men's finals fixture is set.
RICHMOND 2.2 3.2 4.3 4.3 (27)
ADELAIDE 2.0 3.0 3.1 5.6 (36)
Richmond: Wakefield 2, Yassir, Shevlin
Adelaide: Ballard 2, Woodland, Prowse, Martin
Richmond: Conti, Egan, Lavey, McKenzie, S.Hosking
Adelaide: Hatchard, Biddell, Marinoff, Randall, Ballard