A STUNNING 60m goal from Olympic basketballer Erin Phillips has maintained Adelaide's unbeaten start to the NAB AFL Women's competition.
The Crows rallied late to snatch a thrilling three-point victory – 2.5 (17) to 2.2 (14) - against fellow high flyers Carlton at Thebarton Oval on Sunday.
Phillips brought the bumper crowd of 9,006 to their feet when she gave the Crows their first lead of the day midway through the last quarter.
The Blues (2-1) can hold their head high in what could be a preview of the inaugural AFLW Grand Final.
Crows marquee Kellie Gibson left the ground early in the game with an ankle injury from a heavy collision and didn't take any further part.
ADELAIDE 0.0 0.2 1.2 2.5 (17)
CARLTON 1.1 1.2 2.2 2.2 (14)
Adelaide: Riley, Phillips
Carlton: Vescio, S. Hosking
Adelaide: Phillips, Marinoff, Cramey, Randall, Thompson, Varnhagen
Carlton: Davey, Jakobsson, Hardiman, Vescio, Harding, Arnell
Adelaide: Gibson (ankle)
Umpires: Andrew Crosby, Luke Wachel, Mason Beyer
Official crowd: 9006 at Thebarton Oval
Stand up and take a bow, Erin Phillips. The Olympic basketballer single-handedly turned the contest with a glorious 60m goal in the final quarter to give Adelaide its first lead of the day. Phillips didn't have any hesitation as she launched a massive kick towards goal, the ball bouncing through to the delight of the boisterous home crowd. The superb goal capped a best on ground performance from Phillips, who finished with 19 possessions, five marks and three tackles.
Brianna Davey was absolutely everywhere for the Blues in the early exchanges, collecting nine possessions in the opening quarter and 15 for the first half. The former Matildas goalkeeper was restricted to just one touch in the third quarter, but was busier in the last stanza to finish with a game-high 23 possessions. Davey reads the play exceptionally well and isn't afraid to throw her body into contests.
The Crows made a tactical switch to move defender Angela Foley on to dangerous Blues forward Darcy Vescio in the second half. Vescio booted the game's opening goal, but had a limited impact after the main break. Foley shadowed Vescio closely and didn't allow her any time and space. Courtney Cramey, Talia Radan and Stevie-Lee Thompson also worked hard in the Crows' backline.
Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater…
One loss shouldn't define the Blues' premiership credentials. They held the upper hand for the majority of the day before being overrun in the last quarter. Their attack on the football was tremendous while their backline held up superbly for the majority of the game. Don't be shocked to see the Blues and Crows battle it out in the Grand Final.
The individual duel
Opposing rucks, Carlton's Alison Downie and Adelaide's Rhiannon Metcalfe, shared the honours in an intriguing battle. Downie had the slight edge in hit-outs with 18-13. But Metcalfe threw her body into every contest and imposed herself whenever tempers flared. She is quickly earning a reputation as Adelaide's enforcer.
The ladder-leading Crows will aim to extend their unbeaten run to four games when they head across the Nullabor to take on Fremantle at Fremantle Oval next Sunday, from 4.05pm (AWST). The Blues have a quick turnaround and face Melbourne at Casey Fields next Saturday, from 11.35am (AEDT).
"It was an absolute thriller. Credit to Carlton and the defensive pressure they put on the first half and we just battled away. Part of our game plan is to go with speed and Carlton, to their credit, they set up really well and slowed us right down. Carlton got their numbers behind the ball a lot better and we didn't adapt. The second half we were able to turn it around. That third-quarter goal was a big one and set us up going into the last." - Adelaide coach Bec Goddard.
"As we expected, it was a real contested game and it would have been exciting to watch. With the game so short and quarters going for 15 minutes, one or two little things can influence significantly on the contest. I don't think there was anything in particular that we can put our finger on right now, but it is a knife-edge that we play on." - Carlton coach Damien Keeping.