02/03/2024

Melbourne Demons celebrating the win against the Adelaide Crows (Picture: Melbourne AFLW/Twitter)

In the AFLW’s short history, every reigning premier in the competition’s history has lost their opening match-up the following season. On Friday night the Adelaide Crows failed to buck the trend, losing to Season Six grand finalists Melbourne in front of the Crows faithful.

The second game of AFLW Season Seven promised to be a ‘Clash of the Titans’ and while it looked relatively close to finish, the Crows (4.2 26) were ultimately outclassed by the Demons (6.8 44) for most of the match.

The Season Six premiers were simply bested in the clash by the efforts of Melbourne midfielders Karen Paxman, Olivia Purcell and Eliza West. West was particularly influential during the game collecting 25 disposals, while Purcell (22) and Paxman (24) combined for 46.

For the Crows it was the Season Six leading goalkicker Ashleigh Woodland that was among their best kicking three goals in the match. To give her team a hot start, she kicked the first goal of the game and chipped in with two more in the second quarter.

Mercurial forward Danielle Ponter kicked one major in the fourth quarter to keep Adelaide in the contest if not for a few late efforts from the Demons.

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Headlining the game were two milestones with former Blue and Lion and current Demon forward Tayla Harris celebrating her 50th game, while Adelaide star midfielder Anne Hatchard notched up the same feat.

Harris was effective up forward with a goal and 13 disposals after a quiet start. She renewed her on-field rivalry with Crows captain Chelsea Randall who had her measure early.

Hatchard was at her best during the contest showcasing her aggression and running in the midfield.

Adelaide Crows recruit Niamh Kelly spoke to The Inner Sanctum exclusively after the match about her new teammate in Hatchard and what she means to the club.

“Hatchy is a legend, I’m so proud of her today in her 50th game, she is just an incredible player and an incredible person,” Kelly said.

“She’s just achieved so much in such a short amount of time, the way she leads through her actions is amazing and she’s just a real hard worker.

“[Hatchard is] definitely someone I strive to be like and learn alot from at training and so I’m excited for her now and she had a great game again tonight.”

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The conditions underfoot at Glenelg were tough with a wet weather style of game a feature. Melbourne featured a high handball game, which was effective along with their highly attacking game.

Kelly speaks about Melbourne’s ability to play cleanly being the difference during the contest overall.

“It was actually a little bit slippery, I think there was a little bit of rain I suppose all week so it did make the ground a little bit slippery but it was the same for both teams,” Kelly said.

“I suppose Melbourne were a little bit cleaner in the contest than we were today, you could see that through their handball game today that they were more hungry after the grand final last year and they got the win.

“I think we’ve got a few things to work on this week and hopefully we will focus on this game next weekend against Richmond and hopefully we can get a win on the board.”

“They were able to cut our lines and I suppose they just had our measure and were just cleaner in the contest than we were today so they were probably more efficient up front and you know we did, we lost to a very good side today.”

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Coming to the Crows in the off-season, Kelly was traded to from the West Coast Eagles for a change of environment. Playing as a winger, she is able to display her speed and agility that has served her well playing Gaelic football.

“It was amazing to run out alongside some of these girls, some of the best players in the comp,” Kelly said.

“They are just some incredible people as well, it was really exciting and just great to make my club debut with these girls after a good pre-season.

“We’ve put in a good chunk of hard work and I know it’s been a bit shorter than usual, but you know we’ve put a good chunk of hard work and it was really good to get out there and play my first game with the girls.”

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The Crows play the Richmond Tigers on Saturday for a chance to notch up the first win of the season, while Melbourne will play North Melbourne on Friday night.

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