Having finished top of the ladder but dropping the premiership, the Adelaide Crows will look to avenge their grand final loss and reinforce their claim to the title of the most successful AFLW team in history.
The Adelaide Crows headed into the 2021 season as the reigning premiers, having won the 2019 grand final and a flag not handed out in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Their dream start of big wins in the 2021 season came to a crashing halt in Round 3, copping a dose of their own medicine courtesy of Fremantle.
The next round they played the eventual premiers Brisbane and won by 12 points, then snagged two comprehensive victories before falling to Melbourne.
They rounded out the season with two more wins to finish on top and advance straight through to the preliminary final, which they won, and found themselves facing Brisbane in the grand final.
Sadly for the Crows, they played the grand final without captain Chelsea Randall, who was concussed in the preliminary final.
A hint of a sombre mood grew to sadness, when acting grand final captain Angela Foley devastatingly went down in the third quarter with an ACL injury, then the Crows lost the match by 18 points.
Stand-out players of the year included Randall, club champion Ebony Marinoff, Anne Hatchard, Stevie-Lee Thompson, and Sarah Allan.
Competition superstar Erin Phillips had a brilliant first half of the year before her knee gave her grief in the latter half of the season, while young goalscoring gun Ashleigh Woodland and the speedy Teah Charlton showed how exciting they are to watch.
The Crows’ best was unbeatable, but some teams were able to put pressure on parts of their playing style, causing the whole game plan to fall apart too easily.
Consistent four quarter efforts will be key if the Crows want to taste ultimate success in 2022.
What to look forward to:
An epic encounter in Round 1 awaits the Adelaide Crows: a grand final rematch against Brisbane at home (more on that later).
Expect captain Chelsea Randall to charge in like a bull at a gate in this match. She’s tough as nails and will want to dive straight back into the thick of it, after missing the grand final in one of the more heartbreaking stories of the year.
She is also the sole head of the leadership group this year, and has a new face in Ebony Marinoff joining that group for the first time.
Marinoff’s star is already shining brightly, having won the Crows’ best and fairest in 2021, but numerous other younger players are set to explode this year.
Teah Charlton was unlucky to miss out on a Rising Star nomination last year, so watch out this year.
With strong preseasons under their belt, players like Rachelle Martin, Nikki Gore, and Madison Newman all have potential to go the next level this year.
And with draftees Zoe Prowse, Brooke Tonon, and Abbie Ballard joining the crew this year, the future should already be exciting Crows fans.
Biggest unanswered question:
Could this be the Adelaide Crows’ last chance at a flag in the near future?
This could be the last year a few of the club’s big guns fire before it turns to a rebuild process.
A handful of the older Crows are nearing the end of their careers, and younger players like Ebony Marinoff (24), Eloise Jones (22), and Sarah Allan (24) are holding leadership group positions to guide the team through the transition to a new lineup in the future.
The recruiting team has been smart in choosing a variety of youngsters in the last couple of drafts and trade periods to blood them for the club’s next phase.
It is also the last season the AFLW is a one-SA team competition, and Port Adelaide could steal a bunch of Adelaide’s playing stocks heading into the 2021/22 season.
Up to 14 current AFLW players could switch to the teal, black, and white – including Erin Phillips, whose father Greg played 343 games for Port Adelaide in the SANFL.
It’s a big year for…
The young crafty midfielder and half forward that is Teah Charlton really was a smart pick-up by the Adelaide Crows.
Charlton was selected with the fourth pick in the 2020 national draft, and made her debut in Round 1 last year.
Throughout the year she showed off her speed and silkiness, playing every game of the season.
While she only kicked three goals, one of them – against St Kilda in Round 5 – was nominated for Goal of the Year, and she helped set up many more.
With another pre-season under her belt, which included standing Erin Phillips in internal matches, it feels like she is a firecracker ready to explode and show the competition what she is truly made of.
More AFLW News
The Adelaide Crows’ biggest game has to be the grand final rematch against Brisbane, set for Round 1.
It was originally slated for Round 8 at Norwood Oval, but due to Western Australia’s current border situation, the Crows’ battle with the Dockers has been pushed back and the grand final rematch moved forward.
The Crows will have the home advantage, but they are playing at Flinders University Stadium – home of the South Adelaide Football Club – a ground the Crows haven’t really played at.
It will be a familiar stomping ground for some of the Crows including Teah Charlton, Nikki Gore, Lisa Whiteley, Montana McKinnon, and Hannah Munyard, who hail from South Adelaide – but how many of those women get to run onto the park is another story.
The Lions will come in confident, but the Crows will be hungry to avenge the grand final loss and give their fans confidence as they crack into the 2022 season.
The match against GWS will also be an interesting affair, especially for Ebony Marinoff.
It is the first time the Giants’ Bríd Stack will have faced the Crows since her neck was broken in a collision with Marinoff.
The discourse surrounding Marinoff’s disciplinary action lasted for months due to her first receiving the biggest suspension handed out in AFLW history, then it being overturned on an appeal, so no doubt tensions will be high.
R1: vs. Brisbane, Jan 9 (Flinders University Stadium)
R2: vs. North Melbourne, Jan 16 (Norwood Oval)
R3: vs. West Coast, Jan 23 (Mineral Resources Park)
R4: vs. Melbourne, Jan 29 (Norwood Oval)
R5: vs. Carlton, Feb 6 (Ikon Park)
R6: vs. Western Bulldogs, Feb 13 (Norwood Oval)
R7: vs. GWS, Feb 19 (Blacktown International Sportspark)
R8: vs. Fremantle, Feb 27 (Fremantle Oval)
R9: vs. Collingwood, TBC (Norwood Oval)
R10: vs. St Kilda, TBC (RSEA Park)
Ins: Jasmyn Hewett (delisted free agent, Gold Coast), Jasmine Simmons (rookie, basketball), Abbie Ballard (West Adelaide), Zoe Prowse (Sturt), Brooke Tonon (Glenelg), McKenzie Dowrick (replacement player, Woodville-West Torrens SANFLW)
Outs: Chloe Scheer (Geelong), Renee Forth (delisted)
Inactive: Angela Foley (ACL), Rhiannon Metcalfe (work), Jess Sedunary (cycling), Deni Varnhagen (COVID-19 vaccination policy)
Round 1 line-up:
To finish the 2021 minor round on top of the ladder then not get the big final job done is sure to put fire in the bellies of the Adelaide Crows.
The array of talent amongst the Crows, along with the grit and determination every player has, is a sight to behold and when they are at full flight, they are hard to contain.
With the experience in the list combining with young guns on the edge of their breakouts, it is hard to see Adelaide finishing any lower than fourth this year.
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