BRISBANE smashed Adelaide’s hold on top spot and saved AFL boss Gillon McLachlan a scheduling headache with an indomitable three-point, thriller triumph at Norwood Oval on Saturday night.
Bec Goddard’s Crows must now topple Melbourne in Darwin then Collingwood in Melbourne and hope the Lions choke to stoke their dream of hosting an Adelaide Oval AFL women’s grand final.
Paying the Adelaide Oval SMA to open up the CBD stadium is now a remote prospect for McLachlan.
Adelaide must draw on all the spirit and fast learning under Goddard if it is to upstage flag favourite Brisbane.
Lions star Kate McCarthy’s pace on the break and second goal in a frenetic final term proved the difference after Adelaide had carried a two-point lead at the final change.
“I thought we were good with our contested possession. What were not good at was decision making under pressure which was a credit to Brisbane,” said Goddard whose team dominated inside 50s 36-18.
Sabrina Frederick-Traub was an imposing, influential force for Brisbane whether in ruck or field play.
Goddard was adamant Adelaide had not been distracted by “white noise” in the lead up to the high-stakes contest that would decide top spot.
“They had done their homework on us which we couldn’t match. We had 27 ineffective handballs for a team that doesn’t really handball,” said Goddard.
“We have to recover really well. We will be really critical but it is our first loss. Brisbane were better by three points.”
Ebony Marinoff – with 16 touches and 14 tackles – was sensational for the Crows.
The excellence of Marinoff, Erin Phillips (21 touches, the most for any Adelaide player this season) and forward contribution of Sarah Perkins (two goals) was overwhelmed by Brisbane’s dare and pace.
Brisbane boss Craig Starcevich backed his unit in one-on-one contests and prospered.
Phillips – shifted into attack by Goddard – had the chance to boot the winner with two minutes remaining but her snap veered wide.
Chelsea Randall was aggressive across half forward and kept Brisbane ace Taylor Harris quiet.
Adelaide had finished the first half on a high but the Lions bit back with a vengeance.
Brisbane were suddenly outrunning the Crows, swarming into attack, resulting in goals to McCarthy and Kate Lutkins.
Abbie Holmes struck back for Adelaide, courtesy of a 50m penalty. Then Perkins would intervene as she has all season with a definitive pressure act to score a key goal.
Tempers were fraying but the Lions regained composure for another sortee that allowed skipper Emma Zielke to reduce Adelaide’s lead to two points at the final change.
Earlier, Sally Riley had opened the account for the Crows but it was the product of hard work down ground and the kind of pressure acts that had powered Goddard’s side this season.
Adelaide entered the game unbeaten but on notice from Goddard to improve clearance work and eradicate slows starts. However Brisbane had other ideas and struck first blood through Emily Bates.
The Crows had been attacking in waves as the game opened up midway through the second term without capitalising.
Immense forward pressure from Deni Varnhagen and Stevie Lee-Thompson resulted in a set shot for Perkins’ first.
BRISBANE 1.0 1.1 4.2 5.3 (33)
ADELAIDE 1.0 2.3 4.4 4.6 (30)
GOALS — Brisbane : McCarthy (2), Bates, Lutkins, Zielke. Adelaide: Perkins (2), Riley, Holmes.
BEST – Brisbane: McCarthy, Fredrick-Traub, Bates, Kaslar, Hunt, Ashmore. Adelaide: Marinoff, Phillips, Randall, Perkins, Varnhagen, Foley, Holmes.
REPORTS: Gibson (Brisbane – rough conduct).
CROWD: 12,108 at Norwood Oval
Originally published as Crows lose thriller – and top spot