ADELAIDE has powered back to the top of the AFLW ladder and ended the Dockers’ season with a convincing 23-point win in front of 4,578 spectators at Fremantle Oval on Sunday.
The home side was quick out of the blocks, with goals to Rising Star nominee Ashley Sharp and Amy Lavell opening up a 13-point quarter time lead.
But the Crows, powered by co-captain Chelsea Randall (17 possessions), booted six unanswered goals through the second, third and fourth quarters to reaffirm their status as premiership favourites.
Adelaide coach Bec Goddard noted the flexibility of her leaders as a point of improvement, with Randall and co-captain Erin Phillips deployed in different roles.
She said a number of her players were beginning to stand up on match day.
"It's not just one or two," Goddard said.
"Chelsea does her work each week and today she played the majority of the game down back."
"Erin started forward and moved onto the ball for the rest of the game.
"Ebony Marinoff had another great game, Sarah Perkins had a great game, Kellie Gibson had a great game in her home town and Jenna McCormick had a really lively second half.
"If you cut one of these players off, the others just come up and grow."
Fremantle coach Michelle Cowan lauded Adelaide's work ethic, praising key forward Sarah Perkins for her defensive efforts inside 50.
"I think Adelaide work really hard for each other," Cowan said.
"Their two-way running is great but they also kick the ball and get it forward and give the forwards opportunity."
"Sarah Perkins' game – she's incredible.
"She had 10 tackles in the game, she works really hard, and her first, second and third efforts are some of the best that I've seen in that game, so credit to her."
The loss puts seventh-placed Fremantle out of premiership contention, with only the top two teams qualifying for the Grand Final on March 25.
Adelaide marquee signing Chelsea Randall was in dangerous touch. In a new defensive role, the Crows co-captain showed explosive pace and endurance, amassing 17 disposals and six marks in a dominant performance. Her Fremantle counterpart Kara Donnellan was again among the home side's best, working tirelessly to collect 20 touches and six tackles of her own, while Kellie Gibson (14 possessions) allayed any doubts over her fitness after rolling her ankle against Carlton last Sunday.
Chelsea Randall in action during the Crows' win on Sunday. Picture: AFL Photos
Adelaide's forward pressure was nothing short of immense. Having allowed Fremantle time and space to move the ball out of defence in the first quarter – and in turn conceding a 13-point margin – the Crows tightened the screws thereafter. Speaking after the match, Goddard noted restricting Fremantle's run as a point of focus. "They love to use the corridor and they love to put the ball inside 50," Goddard said. "We made that something that we wanted to focus on and that comes down to pressure acts."
Blink and you missed it
Having taken a mark inside her defensive 50 late in the first term, Dockers half-back Cassie Davidson was on hand to save the day again seconds later – but only just. Stationed 30 metres from the Crows' goal with only seconds remaining until quarter-time, Davidson flew over a pack of players to reel in one of the marks of the competition. However, her work was almost undone when an errant kick across goal found the chest of Crows forward Jessica Sedunary. Sedunary's shot after the siren fell short and the visitors entered the first change scoreless.
The ladder now
With Sunday's win, Adelaide returns to the top of the ladder, ahead of the second-placed Brisbane Lions on percentage. A win next week for either side could secure a Grand Final berth.
The Dockers' fortunes are in stark contrast, with Cowan's team remaining winless in seventh place and officially out of premiership contention.
"There was no panicking (at quarter time). Some pretty strong messages were reinforced about how we wanted to play. We wanted to change a few things very quickly, the girls got that message and to their credit, they responded really well." - Adelaide coach Bec Goddard
"It's incredibly disappointing when you see how well the girls played in the first quarter. To fall away so quickly is really disappointing." - Fremantle coach Michelle Cowan
Adelaide will prepare to host the Brisbane Lions in a top-of-the-table clash at Norwood Oval on Saturday night in a match that could go a long way towards deciding one the AFLW's inaugural Grand Finalists. The game starts at 6.40pm ACDT.
The Dockers play Collingwood on Saturday at Rushton Park in Mandurah, with the match set to start at 10.35am AWST. The contest will be followed by a JLT Community Series clash between the respective clubs' men's teams.
FREMANTLE 2.1 2.3 2.4 3.5 (23)
ADELAIDE 0.0 1.3 4.7 6.10 (46)
Fremantle: Sharp, Lavell, Bentley
Adelaide: McCormick 2, Phillips, Sedunary, Holmes, Perkins
Fremantle: Donnellan, Hooker, Antonio, Lavell
Adelaide: Randall, Phillips, Perkins, Holmes, Marinoff, McCormick
Reports: Stephanie Cain (Frem) for forceful high contact on Angela Foley (Adel).
Umpires: Power, Paton, Dugan
Crowd: 4578 at Fremantle Oval