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Match report: Phillips keeps Crows' season alive

AFLW Highlights: Adelaide v Bulldogs The Crows and Bulldogs clash in Round 3 of the AFLW

ADELAIDE'S AFLW premiership defence is still alive after an exhilarating seven-point victory against the previously unbeaten Western Bulldogs in their round three clash at Norwood Oval on Saturday.

Reigning AFLW best and fairest Erin Phillips was outstanding for the Crows, booting four goals in her first game for the season after a quad injury, while co-captain Chelsea Randall (24 disposals), midfield gun Ebony Marinoff (21 disposals and 15 tackles) and Sarah Perkins, playing in the midfield, were also influential.

Complete match stats

Scores were locked late in the game before a behind from Rachael Killian gave the Crows the lead, and Jenna McCormick kicked her second goal of the match after the siren to the delight of the 4,900-strong crowd.

"That was unbelievable," Crows coach Bec Goddard said.

"There was some really good one-on-one football and a close game, that's what you want.

"Erin put in a mighty performance today, but it wasn’t just her.

"Chelsea, Ebony, Dayna (Cox), Sarah (Allen) down back had the composure and everyone comes up around Erin when she starts playing well."

Ellie Blackburn, Emma Kearney and Aisling Utri starred for the Bulldogs, but there will be major concern for key forward Katie Brennan, who was injured and helped off the ground late in the fourth quarter, after feeling pain in her right ankle.

Brennan – who kicked two goals and engaged in a quality duel with Randall – went to pick up the ball before grabbing at her leg without any contact.

Bulldogs coach Paul Groves said he would take a wait and see approach with Brennan.

"I don't know (what happened), it looked a bit nasty, but I haven't had the report from the medical staff yet," Groves said.

"I'm really proud of the girls off the back of a six-day break, horrific scheduling, in that we played against Brisbane in the heat on Sunday and then we're the first game back the next weekend.

"(I'm) really proud of the way they fought and just made it a good game.

"They're a quality team, so we were pretty happy to have the momentum over them early, but then one Erin Phillips steps into the middle and does what she does.

Sarah Perkins and Erin Phillips celebrate the Crows' win over the Western Bulldogs. Picture: AFL Photos

"We had our plans that when she went in the middle, when she went forward, I thought Libby (Birch) was pretty good in that role when she went down back."

The Crows – who lost their first two games of the season - could be without fiery defender Dayna Cox for next week's clash with Greater Western after she was reported for striking Blackburn in the first quarter.

Cox was reprimanded last year for striking Collingwood's Alicia Eva, allowing her to play in the Grand Final.

Goddard said defender Jasmyn Hewett would be assessed during the week after coming off with a knee injury.

The game-changer
Erin Phillips showed she is the most dominant player in competition, booting four of the Crows' six goals in her first game back from a quad injury. The reigning AFLW best and fairest took contested marks and finished goals from ridiculously hard angles, including a crucial six-pointer hard against the right-hand boundary line in the last quarter with the game on the line.

 

The key
The Bulldogs controlled play in the last quarter with the ball barely leaving their attacking half for six or seven minutes. However, the Crows defence held strong and only allowed a behind to level the scores. The Crows then moved the ball forward, Rachael Killian kicking a behind to put them in front before Jenna McCormick marked in the goal-square and booted her second major of the afternoon after the final siren. 

 

Point of difference 
After struggling to make an impact in attack in the first two games, last season's cult hero Sarah Perkins was thrown into Adelaide's midfield with great effect. Perkins was heavily involved, having 11 possessions and three tackles as she provided a physical presence. It was a coaching masterstroke from Bec Goddard that not only helped Perkins get into the game, but also gave the Bulldogs' on-ballers something to think about. 

At the end of the day
The biggest concern for the Bulldogs won't be about letting a victory slip away, it will be about the fitness of star forward Katie Brennan. Brennan felt pain in her ankle late in the game and needed to be assisted from the ground. The fact the injury occurred without contact isn't a good sign. 

Say what?
"I would like to see what Erin can produce at 100 per cent with a year of footy, because if that's her at 65, 70 per cent with her quad, god help everyone." – Bulldogs coach Paul Groves echoes the thoughts of the entire competition after Phillips turned on a masterclass to lead the reigning premiers to their first win of the season.

What’s next?
The Crows will look to continue their momentum when they take on Greater Western Sydney at Blacktown International Sportspark next Sunday, 4.35pm (AEDT). Meanwhile, the Bulldogs have another six-day turnaround when they host Carlton at Whitten Oval next Friday night, 7.05pm (AEDT).

ADELAIDE                        1.1     2.2     4.4     6.5 (41)
WESTERN BULLDOGS     2.1     3.1     5.3     5.4 (34) 

GOALS
Adelaide: Phillips 4, McCormack 2
Western Bulldogs: Brennan 2, Kearney, Utri, Lochland 

BEST 
Adelaide: Phillips, Randall, Marinoff, Perkins, S Allan, Metcalfe
Western Bulldogs: Blackburn, Kearney, Utri, Conti, Lochland, Brennan

INJURIES 
Adelaide: Nil
Western Bulldogs: Brennan (leg)

Reports: Dayna Cox (Adelaide) for striking Ellie Blackburn in the first quarter

Umpires: Matthew Young, Jamie Broadbent, David Newell 

Official crowd: 4,900 at Norwood Oval