FOR JUST the second time in AFLW history, two clubs will play their first match against one another in a final when Adelaide and Sydney do battle on Saturday from 7.15pm ACDT.
The Crows, although coming off a narrow loss to Brisbane, will be chock full of confidence, while the Swans will look to ride the momentum they have gathered over the past month.
Season so far
Adelaide has lost just two games this year, both to Brisbane by a combined five points. It has once again been a hugely dominant side, finishing the home and away season as minor premier. Often considered a strong clearance team, it is in fact the second phase of stoppages where the Crows really get to work, winning the footy and using it really cleanly to maintain possession.
Sydney has famously gone from winless last season to winning a final this year. The Swans work exceptionally hard to control the outside ball, and remain calm and composed in the process. They will often look for aggressive run and carry through the middle of the ground, and utilising their speed in attack.
Tanya Kennedy v Ebony Marinoff
The main question will be whether Kennedy is sent to Marinoff or Anne Hatchard, after repeatedly shutting down dangerous opposition midfielders. It is likely Marinoff will be selected given her ability to win the footy, generate clearance and then transition into attack. Depending on how Hatchard is tracking, however, a shift may be made. Another prolific ball winner at the Crows, Hatchard's spread away from the contest is particularly dangerous.
Players to watch
Caitlin Gould (Adelaide)
Coming off her only goalless game of the year, and held to only four disposals, Gould will be on a mission to return to her best this week. Likely to spend time battling it out with Alice Mitchell and Brenna Tarrant at different times, Gould has the height and ground-level athleticism to wreak some havoc.
Lucy McEvoy (Sydney)
The Swans co-captain is very clever, and very skilful, so likely to be used in a few different ways as the game progresses. McEvoy can generate attacking chains from the back half, but also use her run to get back involved in passages of play higher up the ground and, as last week proved, even hit the scoreboard.
Where it will be won or lost
Prior to last week's loss to Brisbane, Adelaide was averaging a disposal efficiency of 66.2 per cent, meaning it has been able to win and control large portions of games. Against the Lions, however, the Crows conceded a season-high 89 tackles, leading to a season-low disposal efficiency of 60.9 per cent. This also bled into Adelaide's goal accuracy, converting just 38.5 per cent of its shots on goal, well below its home and away average of 53 per cent.
This small weak point is a positive sign for Sydney which laid an AFLW-record 106 tackles last week in its win over Gold Coast, and it is crucial the Swans bring that relentless defensive pressure for the full four quarters on Saturday.
A concern for the Swans is if this pressure game falls down at any point, Adelaide will capitalise. Sydney is conceding an average of 33.3 inside 50s per game this year, including 36 last week, and a scoring efficiency of 45.9 per cent. Should the Crows find space and time in their attacking half, they will make short work of Sydney's defence with the likes of Gould, Eloise Jones, Danielle Ponter and Yvonne Bonner all dangerous in front of goal.
At the other end of the ground, Sydney will be without forward 50 focal point Bec Privitelli due to a Lisfranc injury, leaving a big hole in the side's attacking structure. Montana Ham could potentially spend more time as that taller marking target, while the speed of Cynthia Hamilton, Chloe Molloy, Aliesha Newman and Brooke Lochland becomes the visitors' most dangerous asset.