AFLW Round 3 – Adelaide v Geelong: The benchmark has been set

When you think of AFLW in its first two seasons, one would envisage a low-scoring affair full of tackling and choppy skills in front of encouraging fans. While the women’s department of the AFL has been steadily coming along, the governing body has devised rules to ‘open it up’, so to speak. On Sunday at Norwood Oval, the improvement of the contest was displayed by a free-flowing game of footy that resulted in a higher-scoring match injected with intensity.


For the fledgling Geelong team embarking on their first season in the competition, they had experienced a mixed start. After a gritty and historic win over Collingwood at home to open their account, the Cats had matched reigning premiers in the Bulldogs for a large portion of their clash, only to fall behind in the latter stages. Positive signs had been displayed, yet their round three clash against the heavyweight Adelaide was set to be another step up in class and difficulty.


Yet the competition’s newbies gave their signature crack, ripping into the contest and using their youthful talent to run hard and challenge one of the league’s best teams. In front of a vocal crowd of just over 4,000 on a sunny Adelaide day, both Adelaide and Geelong pursued an attacking mindset that pleased the viewers. From the get-go, champion Erin Phillips stamped her dominance on the match, starting in the centre square and then venturing forward in a Dusty-like fashion to boot the opening goal of the match from a tight angle.


The depth of the Crows was made evident from the early exchanges, with Adelaide beginning to rely less on the midfield grunt of Phillips, and instead introducing a possession-heavy game style that allowed the likes of Marinoff and Hatchard to control proceedings and rack up plenty of touches. With Phillips kicking another first quarter goal to solidify Adelaide’s superiority, Geelong managed to claw their way back into the contest with a dead-eye set shot from Clifford. Apart from her major, the Crows’ defence was solid, as exemplified by a wonderful intercept mark from Randall in the dying stages of the first quarter.


Sensing that it was their day, Adelaide continued to open the game up and attack incessantly, with style and flair coming into their game all around the ground. In a style more accustomed to the free nature of the AFL, Thompson’s weaving assist to Gore for an open goal highlighted the exciting prospect that the Adelaide Crows are. With Phillips marking a Mules set shot in the goal square to exhibit her strong presence up forward, the Cats had been blown out of the water. If not for a terrific sidestep and classy finish from Purcell, then the match would have been completely over by half time.


For all the Cats’ desperation and ferocity in this contest, they couldn’t grovel their way back onto level terms with the classy Crows. Adelaide looked effortless, linking up through the middle of the ground and sending booming entries into their forward fifty with potency. Yet Geelong continued to scrap in the third quarter, as they began to receive some just reward later in the quarter for direct football when Orr produced a marvellous left foot drop punt goal from an acute angle and Darby followed it up with a superb roving snap just seconds later. Unfortunately, it was a case of too little too late, with Thompson’s one-handed mark and Hagen’s booming intercept running goal earlier in the term sealing the fate of the Cats in this clash.


The Crows continued to stamp themselves as a major Premiership fancy in the last quarter, as their delightful brand of free-flowing footy allowed them to continuously have shots at goal – of which they converted well all day. Hatchard capped off a standout day in the midfield and ruck with a bustling snap from a pack to kick a well-deserved major. The class and talent of the mature Crows’ outfit was highlighted by a passage of play where Forth executed a superb pick up and turn to find Marinoff, who continued to use the ball exquisitely by stabbing an accurate pass to Scheer. Scheer dully converted, blowing out the lead to a margin that didn’t reflect the Cats’ tenacity and effort. Clifford gained some respect for her team with a late mark and goal, yet Thompson matched this and booted the Crows’ 10th goal. While all this unfolded, Marinoff shattered the AFLW record for most disposals in a game when she got her 33rd touch of the game.


By the time the siren ended the match, the Crows had run out to a 29-point victory that underlined their credentials for a second AFLW flag this season, while the Cats had been valiant for the second match in a row. It was obvious that one team was new to the competition, as the Crows’ bigger bodies played a more seasoned version of footy that was consistent and brilliant. This shouldn’t dishearten Geelong supporters though – the talent in players like Orr and Clifford is evident and can only improve. Furthermore, Cranston and Clarke had both been industrious and amongst the Cats’ best, meaning that the team’s depth is continually improving throughout their maiden season. Regardless, the encounter highlighted the potential that AFLW had to turn into a higher-scoring competition if teams adopted the aggressive mindset of Adelaide and Geelong.



ADELAIDE 2.2 6.4 7.5 10.6 (66)
GEELONG 1.0 2.0 4.0 6.1 (37)
Adelaide: Phillips 3, Scheer 2, Jones, Forth, Varnhagen, Hatchard, Thompson
Geelong: Clifford 2, Purcell, Orr, Van De Heuvel, McWilliams
Adelaide: Marinoff, Phillips, Hatchard, Randall,
Geelong: Orr, Cranston, Clarke, Clifford
Reports: Nil
Umpires: Broadbent, Lewis, Johanson
Official crowd: 4433 at Norwood Oval


  1. The ability to run into space and field kicking has improved out of sight, Sean, hasn’t it? I reckon 2019 Crows would beat 2017 ‘force a contest until you can run the ball into space’ Crows by 5-10 goals. Hatchard’s improvement and massive leap in terms of fitness a clear example of that.

    Can’t wait to see more.

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