ADELAIDE was behind the eight-ball from the get-go in season 2020, with a raft of injuries taking toll throughout arguably the club’s least successful AFL Women’s campaign to date. The reigning premier finished second bottom in Conference A with a measly 2-4 record, struggling to string together winning form after being stunned for a third-straight year in Round 1. Despite the losses – both in personnel and premiership points – positives came in the form of the emergence of a dominant midfield duo, as well as the successful berths of the Crows’ newest recruits. Relive the highs and lows of Adelaide’s 2020 season, with the spotlight placed on its best-performing players throughout.
R1: lost to Brisbane by 13 points
R2: defeated St Kilda by 13 points
R3: defeated Geelong by 11 points
R4: lost to Carlton by 8 points
R5: lost to North Melbourne by 42 points
R6: lost to GWS by 5 points
Change was always going to be the constant heading into the Crows’ Round 1 clash against Brisbane, with major injuries hitting Adelaide and the Lions experiencing a heavy list turnover. But for the third year running, Adelaide was trumped in its season opener – only this time it could not recover. Both St Kilda and Geelong made it tough for the Crows to get on the winners list, and the weight of interruptions finally caught up with them as they faced a trio of finals-bound sides to see out the season – losing to all three. The loss to Carlton made things hard, the defeat to North Melbourne was crushing, and going down to GWS finished Adelaide off even before the season was shortened. An unflattering set of results despite valiant efforts.
SEASON HIGH: The return of Erin Phillips
It may only have been short-lived and amid a poor patch of form, but it was great to see Phillips back out there. Returning from a knee injury sustained in last year’s grand final triumph, the champion former-basketballer came into the season four rounds deep, collecting 13 disposals in a more forward-oriented role against Carlton. After a week off, Phillips repeated the feat against GWS and while it was far from her absolute best, those glimpses of her on the field made a difference.
SEASON LOW: The GIANTS crushing Adelaide’s finals aspirations
The nail in the coffin that was Adelaide’s season was driven through in Round 6 against the GIANTS, with a second loss on home turf officially ruling the Crows out of finals contention. While the Crows are expected to win most games, this fixture looked to present a good opportunity to rectify a two-game losing run, but instead presented the lowlight of their year – injuries aside. After surrendering its quarter time lead, Adelaide could not claw its way back into the low-scoring contest, bringing a disappointing campaign to its end.
FIVE KEY PERFORMERS:
Ebony Marinoff (23.2 disposals, 5.2 marks, 7.8 tackles, 1.8 rebound 50s, 2.8 inside 50s)
The onus was really on Marinoff in the pre-season to take an even further step in her football development in the absence of Chelsea Randall and Phillips, and the 22-year-old did just that. Shouldering the responsibility of a greater midfield load, Marinoff continued to find the ball at will, while also maintaining her impressive defensive record in a great showing of her enormous work rate.
Anne Hatchard (25.3 disposals, 4.7 marks, 5.7 tackles, 1.5 rebound 50s, 2.7 inside 50s)
Joins Marinoff in the All Australian squad having elevated her game to become a midfield mainstay, leading the league for average disposals across her six games. Every bit as hard working and tough as her fellow engine room operator, Hatchard was a contested beast and ensured the Crows – despite their shortcomings elsewhere – would always be well represented at the stoppages. Also broke the AFLW record for most disposals in a single match against Brisbane (35).
Sarah Allan (12.5 disposals, 3.5 marks, 1.8 tackles, 1.8 rebound 50s, 1 inside 50)
Perhaps one of the more unheralded performers for Adelaide, Allan completes the trio of 22-year-old Crows to have earned an All Australian squad berth. The 178cm defender was as reliable as anyone at full back in what would end up being a tough position to play for the Crows, marking well and proving cool in possession with a club-high disposal efficiency of 80 per cent – remarkable given the pressure she was often under.
Angela Foley (12.3 disposals, 3.3 marks, 2.3 tackles, 2 rebound 50s, 2.5 inside 50s)
Another inaugural Crow who continues to be a reliable figure, Foley returned another consistent campaign with averages indicative of her previous form in the competition. Given her side’s spate of injuries, Foley’s role from midfield became even more important as she leant on every bit of senior-level experience to help guide the Crows forward as a real metres-gained asset.
Courtney Gum (10.5 disposals, 2.3 marks, 2.3 tackles, 1 inside 50, 3 goals)
Not many would have expected to see Gum feature here post-season 2019, with the former-GIANT coming out of a short-lived retirement to feature in her home state. Posted in a forward role throughout the year, Gum found the big sticks three times – including twice in what almost proved a match-winning performance against GWS. The 38-year-old’s hard edge inside 50 was a great addition, and in hindsight would have helped given the weekly absentees.
Danielle Ponter (9 disposals, 2.3 marks, 1.2 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 5 goals)
The lightning NT product backed up a promising debut season well to finish as her side’s leading goalkicker. Having found the ball a touch more as she ventured further afield, Ponter’s four-goal effort against Geelong in Round 3 proved game-breaking and served as a reminder of the small forward’s talent. While she only found the big sticks once more after that match, Ponter’s speed and pressure around the ball were great to watch.
It is always hard to judge a side missing such vital members of its core, but the hammer must come down hard on the Crows given they hold arguably the most talent-rich squad in the competition. Unfortunately, they could not keep up with the key changes and despite having no issues in finding the ball, could not consistently get the best out of their scoring options. It was a heavy fall back down to Earth for the two-time premiers, but they should hit back strongly in 2021 with a point to prove.