30/05/2024

The Brisbane Lions are the first team through to the AFLW season seven grand final (Image: Brisbane Lions AFLW - Twitter)

The Brisbane Lions have emerged as the first team into the AFLW season seven grand final, booking their place on the last Sunday of the season after beating the Adelaide Crows by 23 points at Metricon Stadium on Friday night.

Brisbane will make its fourth Grand Final appearance and are on the hunt for its second Premiership. In its way will be Melbourne and North Melbourne.

The first quarter of Friday’s match encapsulated everything that finals football has to offer, both sides relied on intense pressure, no one wanted to be the first to concede, and the ball was constantly on the move.

It was Catherine Svarc who broke the deadlock after 13 minutes, the beneficiary of a favourable free-kick and she made no mistake from the 45-degree angle. It was the midfielder’s third-straight game kicking a goal, bringing her season seven tally to a career-best five goals.

Speaking to The Inner Sanctum post-match, Svarc said it’s a new skill she’s trying to add to her bow.

“I’ve been working on building up the attacking side of my game and trying to be more consistent through this back half of the season,” Svarc said.

“I’ve found myself just getting more involved up forward and starting to find myself in some good spots because of it.”

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Svarc played in the Lions flag in 2021 during her second year but has since grown into one of her side’s most prolific midfielders and has starred during season seven. Being able to have the Grand Final in their home state has been a big motivator for both her and the squad.

“There’s a really good feeling in the group this year, through the back end of the season we’ve had a lot of belief,” she said.

“We worked on improving our game week on week and just really focussed on coming into finals with a lot of confidence.

“We always knew tonight was going to be a hot contest, but we’re so glad we could get through it and now get to look forward to a Grand Final in Brisbane.”

It was a match-up of league powerhouses, in all six seasons at least one of Brisbane or Adelaide has featured in the final game of the year. There was plenty of planning that went into their matchups with the Crows and Svarc was pleased the girls stuck to it.

“Overall we’re really happy with how we matched up with them, we always knew they were going to come out as hard as they could in that second half,” she said.

“We probably let them in a little more than we’d like, but we held strong in the end, our girls knew what they had to do.

“A huge credit to our defenders, we may not be the ones smiling if they weren’t able to stand up as they did in that second half, it was an amazing performance.”

Despite crediting the team’s performance, there were a few names that stood out in Svarc’s mind.

“Breanna Koenen and Nat Grider down back were just massive,” she said.

“’Bre’ had some huge marks against [Danielle] Ponter, and we know how dangerous she is with the ball.

“As well as our whole midfield group, the Crows have such a talented midfield and I think we really matched them today which was a massive effort.”

Brisbane Coach Craig Starcevich agreed, he was more than pleased with the efforts of his players. He had a glowing review for Emily Bates when asked if she was snubbed from the All-Australian Squad.

“Emily’s had two good Finals now, she was great two weeks ago as well,” Starcevich said post-match.

“She’s driven by playing against the best players in the comp, tonight she had [Ebony]Marinoff and [Anne] Hatchard and I thought she more than held her own.

“She’s very competitive and I don’t think I’ve ever seen her take a backwards step in those contests.”

The Lions kicked four goals to none in the second quarter, which reflected the final score line, but the second half saw Adelaide outscore Brisbane 21-15.

Starcevich was happy with the way they handled the Crows in the second half.

“We expected the opposition to throw everything at us in the second half and they did,” he said.

“I’m just really pleased with the way we started, and the fact we were able to absorb all that pressure before delivering a bit of our own.

“For our style of footy, it was a really good first half that set us up for the result.”

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