Adelaide and Collingwood

Hardness was the main feature on display at Victoria Park on Sunday. (Picture: Crows AFLW/Twitter)

A high-pressure, physical contest between Adelaide and Collingwood has left the two sides licking a few wounds.

Collingwood lost Aishling Sheridan to a knee injury in the second quarter, while Adelaide lost Niamh Kelly to a shoulder injury.

Kelly’s injury sours what was a hard-fought victory for the Crows, who prevailed by five points on a very scrappy wet day at Victoria Park.

The coaches’ corner

Adelaide coach Matthew Clarke was happy to escape with the four points after the Pies had all the attack late in the fourth quarter.

“It got a bit tense, certainly in the last 90 seconds,” he said.

“We’d rather it have been down the other end, that’s for sure, but in the end, we hang on.

“There was some really good footy from us, but unfortunately we probably just didn’t take our chance and convert, the inside 50 differential was in our favour, but they defended pretty stoutly as well.

“We’re happy to get away with the win, Collingwood was undefeated coming in so we’re happy.”

Clarke provided an update on Kelly’s dislocated shoulder and her prospects after missing the last quarter with the injury.

“The shoulder popped out and went back in, and she was quite pain-free and comfortable, but it wasn’t 100 per cent stable so the medical team called it ‘no more today’ so we’ll assess her during the week,” he said.

“She was really influential in that first half, and even the tackle that she laid to save a goal when you see the final result, that’s pretty significant.

“She’s been a great addition to our team, she’s been training unbelievably hard, and been a bit unlucky to not be in the side.

“For her to come out and play really well was great, of course frustrating that she got injured.”

One of the main positives to come out of the game was the performance of Madison Newman, who finished with 17 disposals and a goal in one of her best performances for the Crows.

Clarke spoke about what the next generation provides out on the footy field.

“That’s the exciting thing, I think all clubs would be experiencing that, where you see players who have been in the system for two or three years, and then they start to feel comfortable at the level and start to feel influential in games,” the coach said.

“Really pleased for her, but she’s been working really hard.”

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In the Pies’ camp, coach Steve Symonds lamented his side’s slow start to the match.

“It was a disappointing start, they controlled territory early on and we couldn’t get the ball into our forward 50 enough,” he said.

“We tried a few different things, but in the last quarter, we had to play a lot more attacking, which we did. We had some opportunities in the last quarter which gave us a chance, but we just fell short.”

Symonds noted the credentials of the reigning premiers in regard to Collingwood’s performance.

“They are the reigning premiers and they’re a good team, they’ve lost a couple of players, but their squad is extremely strong still, and they’re going to be one of the contenders,” he said.

“We can take away that we’re going to be competing against those better teams, which is something, but we just lack the polish at times. Some of our fundamentals fell down a bit at the right time, where players [were] out, and we couldn’t get the kick out that we needed to do, or we made a poor decision.

“That’s part of our growth as a group as well so with our midfield group, we’ve tried to patch up a little bit in there, and try some new things there, and sometimes it works and sometimes it didn’t.

“They got territory in there against us early but I think we were able to reset that after halftime and get it back our way.

“We know we’ve got a bit of work to do but we know we can mix it.”

Sabs shines as sole ruck

Symonds was full of praise for Sabrina Frederick as the sole ruck for Collingwood. She had arguably her best game in Pies colours with 19 hit-outs and eight clearances, as well as two goal-saving marks in the second quarter.

“She’s a competitive beast, and she rose to the challenge and she knew that she wanted to go against a couple of rucks,” he said.

“We used Barbs [Olivia Barber] to give her a chop out at times, but her work rate was great, her competitiveness in the ruck was really strong, and her follow-up efforts were really strong.

“She’s got some smarts about her, and she positioned behind the ball really nicely for us.

“It’s not the last time we’ll use Sabs in the ruck When we recruited her from Richmond, we spoke about playing her more in the ruck and she’s embracing a bit of that.”

Crow Charlton on the contest

From the first bounce, the game against Collingwood was hard, tough, and physical for Adelaide. Young Crows midfielder Teah Charlton spoke about getting her fair share of hits during the game.

“I was getting whacked by everyone around the contest,” Charlton told The Inner Sanctum.

“It was definitely a hard ball game today, and I think I’m feeling it now.”

Adding in the tough conditions that saw heavy rain in the dying minutes when Collingwood was pressing to snatch victory, Charlton spoke about how important it was to escape with the four points.

“It was super important, we just wanted to hold on for as long as possible obviously, and it shows when it comes to finals we’ll be able to slug it out and get on top and be winners,” she said.

Kelly’s goal line save proved to be the difference in the five-point win, and Charlton spoke about how it lifted the team in the third quarter.

“I’d say it was a game-saving smother there, and unfortunately she did come off second best but, I think it sparked [us] to lift the pressure and just keep at it.”

Charlton’s consistency

Playing in one of the premier midfields in the competition, Charlton has managed to hold her spot since her debut in 2021 and puts her consistency down to a few key areas.

“I think it all comes down to, if it’s not your day, then make sure you are bringing the pressure and the tackle pressure,” she said.

“You don’t have to be getting as much of the ball as those big ball winners to have an impact on the game so as long as you are doing your role, you can stay in the system, and stay in the team.”

And Charlton has certainly enjoyed starting more in the midfield this season for Adelaide, as she explained.

“I’ve found it more enjoyable,” she said.

“Obviously being around the ball a lot more, I’ve been able to display what I have to give so I think I love the midfield a lot more than up forward at the moment.”

With the Crows sitting in fifth going into the halfway point of the season, Charlton spoke about where the Crows will go from here.

“I’d say each week we’re just building, [even though] that’s pretty cliché,” she laughs.

“But we’re just getting better with our full contest method, and [we’re working on] bringing the heat for the full four quarters, not just saving it right for the end.”

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