The 2019 AFLW season saw the addition of two new clubs to the league, Geelong and North Melbourne, and the league adopted a conference system to accommodate the extra teams. The league was split into two groups based on their final ladder positions in the 2018 season.
Pool A: Western Bulldogs (1), Melbourne (3), Adelaide (5), Fremantle (7), North Melbourne
Pool B: Brisbane (2), Greater Western Sydney (4), Collingwood (6), Carlton (8), Geelong
Each team played each other team in their conference once, and three ‘crossover’ games against teams from the other conference, keeping the total of seven games from the previous season. The two highest placed teams from each conference would then qualify for a crossover preliminary final.
Following the departure of Bec Goddard, men’s ruck coach Matthew Clarke was enlisted to take over as senior coach. Adelaide began the season with a narrow one-point loss at home against the 2018 premiers, the Western Bulldogs, with the Crows not making the most of their opportunities, kicking 1.11.
This was remedied, however, in the following match as Adelaide took down Carlton in a high scoring match for both teams. Held scoreless in the second quarter and trailing by as much as 17 in the third, the Crows rallied to kick six of the last seven goals and take the win. Former defender Stevie-Lee Thompson was the star of the match, bagging four goals.
The next five matches in the season were all wins, culminating in a ten-goal drubbing of Melbourne, the club’s largest winning margin. This record lasted only a week, as the Crows beat Geelong by 11 goals in the preliminary final. Adelaide’s dominance earned them a minor premiership and a home grand final against Carlton, to be played at the Adelaide Oval.
THE GRAND FINAL
The stage was set for the Crows, who entered the Grand Final as overwhelming favourites. Early predictions estimated that the crowd size could be as large as 25,000 people, thanks to strong local support. The Adelaide Oval quickly filled out on game day, and by half-time it was clear that the figure was an underestimation.
The upper levels were opened, and people continued to pour in as the game continued. By the end, 53,034 fans had passed through the gates, a record crowd for a women’s sporting event in Australia.
Carlton started the game strong, with Rising Star Madison Prespakis kicking the first goal of the match. Spurred on by the enormous home crowd, Adelaide responded immediately by kicking the next nine goals in a row, reaching half-time with a commanding 40-point lead.
The game took a sombre turn for Adelaide as young gun Chloe Scheer and co-captain Erin Phillips collapsed with a serious knee injuries in the second and third terms, both players having torn their ACL. The fans of both teams stood on their feet and cheered Phillips as she was stretchered from the ground.
Play continued, but the game seemed to have lost its spark, with each team only kicking a single behind in the final quarter. The insurmountable lead remained so, and the game ended with Adelaide as 45-point victors over Carlton.
Erin Phillips returned to the ground to claim a second Grand Final best on ground award after kicking two goals and was helped to the stage by co-captain Chelsea Randall and Ebony Marinoff. The two captains lifted the trophy together, their second as a partnership and the second in three years for the Crows AFLW team.
ADELAIDE 3.0 9.2 10.2 10.3 (63)
CARLTON 1.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 (18)
Best: Hatchard, Phillips, Jones, Randall, Allan, Marinoff, J.Foley
Goals: Ponter 3, Phillips 2, Hatchard, Considine, Martin, Thompson, Jones
Erin Phillips swept the awards for a second time, collecting her second AFLW Best and Fairest, her second Club Champion award, her second Grand Final best on ground award and her second AFLW Players’ Association MVP award. Additionally, Phillips was awarded the AFLW Coaches Association’s Player of the Year and was made captain of the All-Australian team.
Chelsea Randall was deemed the Most Courageous player for the third year in a row and made vice-captain of the All-Australian team, her third selection.
Stevie-Lee Thompson was the leading goalkicker for the league with 13, earning a spot in the All-Australian team for her efforts. Anne Hatchard had a breakout year and earned a place in the All-Australian team, while Ebony Marinoff got her third consecutive selection.
Danielle Ponter and Chloe Scheer were each nominated for the Rising Star award.