2017 AFLW Premiership
Adelaide defied the odds to make history as the first AFLW premier on March 25, 2017.
The Crows fought off a late challenge to upset previously unbeaten Brisbane Lions by six points in a tense Grand Final at Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast. Adelaide won 4.11 (35) to 4.5 (29) in front of 15,610 fans.
Brilliantly led by co-captains Erin Phillips and Chelsea Randall, the Crows controlled the contest for three quarters before the Lions crept within five points in a desperate last-quarter fling at victory.
But the Crows stood firm, limiting the home team’s scoring chances with an extra player behind the ball for most of the game.
Best-on-ground Phillips was inspirational and ran herself to exhaustion, finishing with 28 possessions and two vital third-quarter goals.
Adelaide made a perfect start. From the opening bounce, Courtney Cramey fired a long clearing kick inside the 50m arc. Kellie Gibson outsprinted her opponent to grab the loose ball and threw it onto the right boot from 35 metres on a tight angle for a brilliant team-lifting goal.
Deni Varnhagen added a second goal later in the first quarter to give the Crows a seven-point lead at the first break.
Six consecutive behinds from Adelaide in the second quarter had fans worried, but the dominant forward pressure was enough to prevent the Lions from doing too much damage before the half-time siren.
Two goals from Phillips in the third quarter stretched Adelaide’s lead to two goals at three quarter time but just two behinds in the last term kept Brisbane in reach.
The ball was in Brisbane’s attacking half when the final siren sounded with the Crows six points ahead.
Randall said: “The siren went and I was like, ‘Oh my God, is it over?’ I couldn’t believe it at first and then everyone just started jumping on each other.
“‘Flip’ (Phillips) was on the ground and I thought she was actually injured, so I was saying, ‘Guys, guys, give her some room!’ But I pulled her up and she was just there crying – she realised it was over.
“It was just an incredible moment that I’ll cherish forever with this group.”
Phillips said the AFLW premiership was “right up there” with her other sporting achievements.
The 31-year-old said there was never any doubt she was going to play in the first AFLW season.
“I would’ve had more regrets if I didn’t play, to be part of this,” Phillips said.
“I’m just so privileged to be a part of our football club, get this opportunity and share it.”
Randall sensed her team was ready when they arrived at Metricon Stadium.
“Coming off a really strong finish against Collingwood led us into a good week,” she said.
“It was just around the warm-up time before we went out onto the field when we all just started smiling at each other. It was like, I’m doing this for you, you’re going to have my back and I’m going to have yours.
“There was just so much love in our team.”
ADELAIDE 2.1 2.7 4.9 4.11 (35)
BRISBANE 1.0 2.1 3.3 4.5 (29)
Crows Best: Phillips, Randall, Marinoff, Cramey, Gibson, Bevan
Crows Goals: Phillips 2, Gibson, Varnhagen
The premiership team
B: Heather Anderson, Georgia Bevan, Talia Radan
HB: Anne Hatchard, Deni Varnhagen, Angela Foley
C: Dayna Cox
HF: Ebony Marinoff, Erin Phillips (C), Stevie-Lee Thompson
F: Courtney Cramey, Sarah Perkins, Kellie Gibson,
R: Sarah Allan, Justine Mules, Sally Riley
Int: Chelsea Randall (C), Rachael Killian, Abbey Holmes, Rhiannon Metcalfe, Jenna McCormick, Jessica Sedunary
Coach: Bec Goddard