Games Won 8
Ladder Position 2
Premiership position: 2nd (8 wins, 3 losses).
Coach: Matthew Clarke
Captain: Chelsea Randall
Adelaide returned to the AFLW grand final stage for the third time in 2021 but did not add to its premiership cup collection.
The Crows moved on from their 2020 struggles to rise to minor premiers before losing the grand final to Brisbane at Adelaide Oval.
There was some COVID disruption to the season, with a short lockdown in Western Australia, team bubbles and some games transferred or played at empty venues. But after the abrupt end to the 2020 season, the competition pushed through to an exciting finish with four teams locked on seven wins after the nine minor rounds.
Adelaide regained its high-scoring ways and benefited from seeing more of two of its outstanding leaders.
Standalone captain Chelsea Randall returned from a torn ACL and Erin Phillips – having stood down as co-captain – was fit after an injury-plagued 2020. However, Adelaide lost a few senior players over the off-season with Courtney Cramey, Jessica Foley, Courtney Gum and Sophie Li retiring.
Adelaide won its opening round for the first time under coach Matthew Clarke, crushing West Coast in Perth by 38 points in an early warning to rivals. A 47-point away win against GWS was also impressive but the Crows then suffered a 30-point loss to Fremantle at Norwood Oval.
Phillips gave a reminder of her best form in round four against Brisbane. Playing primarily forward, she tore the game apart with four goals from 21 disposals, taking five marks and finishing with the three AFLW best and fairest votes.
Adelaide was ruthless in its next two home games. It thumped St Kilda by 53 points in round five and then kicked its highest score (13.7) but fell one point short of the AFLW record with a 70-point drubbing of Gold Coast at Norwood Oval in round 6. Danielle Ponter kicked four goals in the win.
Melbourne dominated the Crows in round seven, winning by 28 points under lights at Casey Field. But Adelaide secured its AFLW finals spot with a comprehensive 56-point win over the Western Bulldogs the following week and then finished the minor round on top of the ladder after a 14-point win against Collingwood. With a home preliminary final berth on the line, Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff dominated in the midfield.
After a week off, Adelaide sealed its place in the 2021 grand final with an 18-point victory over Melbourne at Adelaide Oval.
Marinoff and Hatchard were again the stars but Randall copped a heavy knock in the first quarter and missed the rest of the match with concussion, ruling the inspirational captain out of the grand final.
Ange Foley took over as captain for the decider, Adelaide’s third AFLW grand final. After a tight start the Crows led midway through the second term but the Lions kicked the next two goals to lead by five points at half-time.
Three more unanswered goals to Brisbane in the third quarter, including two in the last minute, stretched the margin to 22 points as the Crows lost Foley with a ruptured ACL.
Eloise Jones kicked an early goal for Adelaide in the final term but Brisbane held firm to win its first AFLW title by 18 points.
Marinoff was crowned the 2021 Club Champion. Her stellar season was rewarded with 265 votes to finish ahead of Hatchard on 251.
Marinoff was also named in the All Australian side, alongside Phillips and Sarah Allan.
Recruit Ashleigh Woodland impressed in her first year with the Crows, kicking nine goals, and first round draftee Teah Charlton also played every game.
Awards and Achievements
All Australians: Sarah Allan, Erin Phillips, Ebony Marinoff
Players’ Player Award: Anne Hatchard
Leading goalkicker: Erin Phillips
Best Defensive Player: Sarah Allan
AFLW Goal of Year: Danielle Ponter
AFLW Players Association Most Courageous: Chelsea Randall
- Chelsea Randall and Marijana Rajcic competed on The Amazing Race Australia 5 in episodes that aired in 2021. They entered as “stowaways” and finished in sixth place.
In: Jess Sedunary (St Kilda), Lisa Whiteley (GWS), Hannah Munyard (Western Bulldogs), Teah Charlton (South Adelaide), Rachelle Martin (West Adelaide), Ashleigh Woodland (North Adelaide)
Out: Courtney Cramey, Jessica Foley, Courtney Gum, Sophie Li, Nicole Campbell, Jaimi Tabb
First game players
Teah Charlton, v West Coast at Lathlain Park, 30/1/21 (debut order 50)
Lisa Whiteley, v West Coast at Lathlain Park, 30/1/21 (51)
Ashleigh Woodland, v West Coast at Lathlain Park, 30/1/21 (52)
Hannah Munyard, v Brisbane at Hickey Park, 21/2/21 (53)
|Club Champion top ten|
|1: Ebony Marinoff 265 votes|
2: Anne Hatchard 251
3: Erin Phillips 233
4: Sarah Allan 227
5: Stevie-Lee Thompson 174
6: Chelsea Randall 162
7: Justine Mules 159
8: Najwa Allen 157
9: Marijana Rajcic 150
10: Ashleigh Woodland 139
|14: Erin Phillips|
9: Danielle Ponter
9: Ashleigh Woodland
6: Chelsea Randall
5: Eloise Jones, Chloe Scheer
|AFLW best and fairest medal|
|13: Hatchard (equal fifth)|
The 2021 squad
Back row (left to right): Dayna Cox (31), Chloe Scheer (4), Renee Forth (27), Jess Sedunary (19), Najwa Allen (8), Teah Charlton (25), Madison Newman (17), Ailish Considine (16), Hannah Button (6), Justine Mules (23). Middle row: Hannah Munyard (20), Lisa Whiteley (22), Anne Hatchard (33), Chelsea Biddell (12), Montana McKinnon (21), Rhiannon Metcalfe (11), Cailtin Gould (1), Ashleigh Woodland (24), Marijana Rajcic (32), Deni Varnhagen (9), Nikki Gore (7), Rachelle Martin (5). Front row: Erin Phillips (13), Ebony Marinoff (10), Sarah Allan (39), Chelsea Randall (captain, 26), Matthew Clarke (coach), Ange Foley (3), Eloise Jones (2), Stevie-Lee Thompson (14), Danielle Ponter (15).
A new indigenous/away jumper was launched for the 2021 season. Adelaide also had a guernsey specially designed for the inaugural AFLW Pride Round. It featured the rainbow flag on the front. The Crows wore their home jumper (with a grand final badge) in the AFLW decider at Adelaide Oval.
The 2021 women’s guernsey; Ashleigh Woodland; Teah Charlton in the 2021 AFLW grand final jumper; Eloise Jones playing in the new Indigenous/away jumper; the Pride Round Crows guernsey.