SYDNEY'S fairytale second AFLW season has come to an end at the hands of a rampaging Adelaide outfit led by gun midfielder Anne Hatchard, the Crows asserting their authority with a thumping 67-point semi-final victory.
The Crows led for the entirety of the game, kicking six goals across the middle two terms in the 12.10 (82) to 2.3 (15) victory in front of a pumping home crowd at Norwood Oval.
CROWS v SWANS Full match coverage and stats
The result means Adelaide will face North Melbourne in a preliminary final – the Crows' fifth in the six seasons preliminary finals have been scheduled, including the cancelled 2020 matches – while the Swans' season finishes in fifth or sixth place, a far cry from last year's winless result.
The ball lived in Adelaide's forward 50 in the first quarter with a 13-2 count, but Sydney did incredibly well to restrict the Crows to 2.2 with the same fierce intensity the team displayed against Gold Coast last weekend.
But the Swans' issue was getting enough ball forward of centre to attack their own goals, a forward line already hamstrung by the absence of sole spearhead Bec Privitelli, who suffered a Lisfranc injury last week.
The Crows were content to let Chloe Molloy push into the midfield as a spare around the ball, earning themselves a floating intercept defender – usually Zoe Prowse – in return.
Adelaide certainly couldn't flick the ball around by hand with impunity, with Sydney keen to shut down the outlet handball at all costs.
But the bigger Crows bodies – with some now in their eighth AFLW season, compared to most Swans in their second – often proved to be the difference in the stoppages.
The middle two quarters were where Adelaide put its foot down on the scoreboard as Jess Allan found ascendancy in the ruck, finding plenty of width in the narrow confines of Norwood as Sydney lost its shape somewhat.
Pressure forward Jess Waterhouse returned with a bang after being overlooked last weekend, capping off a strong game with an outstanding bouncing effort while running towards the boundary.
Laura Gardiner battled hard but was somewhat down on her usual outstanding output this season, while defender Ella Heads was steady and Brenna Tarrant took a few strong intercept marks.
The Swans midfield lost some grunt when Aimee Whelan (bicep) was a late withdrawal before the game.
Sydney attempted to send Tanya Kennedy to Marinoff in the first half, but had no player that could match Hatchard for all four quarters. The Swans tagger was swung onto Hatchard in the fourth quarter, but by then she had recorded 30 disposals and kicked two goals. She became the first AFLW player to reach the combined tally in a final, and also set the record for most disposals in a final with 37.
One tall forward short
An additional key forward may be top of the shopping list for next season for Sydney. The Swans were already running with a relatively short forward line, preferring plenty of speed at ground level, but were only able to replace Privitelli with Montana Beruldsen (169cm), with Lexi Hamilton needed in the ruck. Montana Ham spent some time forward, but her bigger frame was needed against the Adelaide midfielders.
Adelaide will travel to Melbourne to face North Melbourne at Ikon Park, while it's season over for Sydney.
ADELAIDE 2.2 5.5 8.5 12.10 (82)
SYDNEY 1.0 2.0 2.3 2.3 (15)
Adelaide: Hatchard 2, Randall 2, Bonner 2, Waterhouse 2, Gould, Bonner, Ponter, Jones
Sydney: Newman, Molloy
Adelaide: Hatchard, Marinoff, Randall, J. Allan, Ponter, Kelly
Sydney: Gardiner, Molloy, Heads, Tarrant
Sydney: Aimee Whelan, replaced in the selected side by Paige Sheppard
Crowd: 4,688 at Norwood Oval