SUNDAY will see the biggest game of the AFL Women’s calendar, with minor premiers of both Conference A and Conference B, Adelaide and Carlton making it to the 2019 AFLW Grand Final. A battle of conferences is a fitting way to end the 2019 season, with both sides hopeful for their best win of the season. Carlton showed a new side of their team in last week’s first preliminary final against Fremantle, convincingly outplaying the Dockers and beating them by 36 points to lock in an inaugural grand final appearance. Adelaide put up a stellar performance against Geelong in the second preliminary final, running over the Cats by a painful 66 point margin and locking in a home grand final on Sunday afternoon. This week will see Adelaide as strong contenders for their second AFLW Grand Final win, only the first club in a position to do so after the competition’s inception in 2017, while Carlton will hope to pull off a big upset similar to their performance last week in order to get the win in front of a hostile Adelaide home crowd.
Adelaide vs. Carlton
Sunday, March 31
1:00pm AEDT, Adelaide Oval
Carlton’s strong win against favourites, Fremantle last week sees the Blues make it into their inaugural Grand Final, while the Crows are the first side to take the field in a Grand Final with one trophy already under their belt, meaning this match will be a one to add to the record books regardless of the outcome. While the Conference system is the only reason Carlton were able to make finals, this match will be a big indicator of the difference between Conference A and Conference B, unless Carlton are able to pull off another shock victory to take out the 2019 AFLW Grand Final. That being said, Carlton have produced fighting scorelines in majority of their matches, winning five of their last six matches to make the Grand Final, so do have the potential to give Adelaide a run for their money. The Crows have won their last seven matches, the first of their run against Carlton in Round 2 2019, so will want to keep their fine form going with another win to add to their season tally.
From the two sides in the mix this week, Carlton’s Madison Prespakis, Lauren Brazzale and Brianna Davey stood out in the big win against the Dockers, with 57 touches, 11 tackles, nine marks and a goal between them. Adelaide’s Ebony Marinoff, Jess Foley and Erin Phillips were among the best in the team effort against Geelong, with a combined 69 disposals, 21 tackles, 11 marks and three goals.
Last time they met saw Adelaide prevail as Carlton threw all they had at the Crows, going down by only 13 points in Round 2 at Ikon Park (Carlton 7.2 (44) to Adelaide 9.3 (57)). The Blues led for a good part of the game with a good run out of defence, but struggled with forward options after Tayla Harris was a late omission from the side, allowing turnovers by a clinical and offence-driven Crows side. The Blues’ relentless forward push did mean some goals were bound to break through the Crows’ backline, however a late push from the visitors saw the two sides combine for a competitive seven goal third term, effectively taking the Crows back into the lead ahead of the last quarter. A three goal to one burst in the final term saw Adelaide come away with their first win for the season, while Carlton came away with a lot to think about and build on for their next matchup.
Adelaide’s small forwards were at their best in Round 2, with Stevie-Lee Thompson (four goals, 17 disposals) and Eloise Jones (two goals, five tackles) putting on a show in front of goal and poking holes in Carlton’s defence. Anne Hatchard and Erin Phillips dominated around the ground with 43 touches and 10 marks between them, while Jess Foley had the 17 hitouts and Ebony Marinoff added eight tackles to her season tally. Carlton had a good game in front of the big sticks, only registering two behinds for the day with six individual goalkickers, but were unable to capitalise on opportunities credit to Adelaide’s pressure around the ground and the Blues’ forward 50. Natalie Plane had her best game for the season, kicking two goals and racking up 11 touches and three tackles, while Kerryn Harrington and Madison Prespakis were among Carlton’s best, racking up 20 disposals apiece, with Prespakis kicking her debut goal in AFLW and Harrington notching up six marks. Shae Audley and Amelia Mullane managed seven and six tackles, respectively.