Crows women's coach Bec Goddard and her players aren’t shying away from what's at stake in the final round of the inaugural AFLW season.
The Crows couldn't capitalise on their last two chances to shore up a spot in the AFLW Grand Final, but Goddard says the team is ready to seize the opportunity this weekend against Collingwood.
“We have put ourselves in a very good position and, as I said to the girls last week, opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor,” Goddard said.
“It will just come down to whether we play our best football.”
The Brisbane Lions locked in a home Grand Final with their sixth straight victory last week and remain the only undefeated team in the competition.
Their challenger will be either the Crows or Melbourne in what looms as the biggest weekend of the inaugural AFL Women’s season so far.
A Crows win, barring an incredible percentage swing, would almost certainly see the Club safely advance through to the decider.
“(The girls) know themselves without me having to say that, essentially, it is a Prelim Final,” Goddard said.
“We’ve got to be a little bit smarter with our ball use, particularly when teams appear to be dropping that spare (player) back in front of our forwards now.”
The Crows stunned the competition with four straight wins at the start of the season to emerge as early flag favourites.
But two consecutive losses by less than a goal proved just how close and competitive the AFL Women’s competition has been.
Goddard said her side needed to recapture their quick, combative and contested playing style.
“That was the AFLW – it was the great unknown. We knew who all the marquees were, but how would each team work together?” Goddard said.
“We never really talked about results as a measure of our success this season.
“We’ve got to get back to focusing on us. At review this week, we showed some tape of how we played against the Bulldogs in Round Two – that’s what we want to see.
“We want to go with speed and we want to be uncomfortable to play against. Those are the two things that we’ve been focused on for the season.”
Goddard said her side had to strike a fine balance between focusing on itself and acknowledging the opposition, which will this week include names like Moana Hope, Meg Hutchins and Steph Chiocci at Collingwood.
Despite the heightened pressure, the Canberra-born coach used a unique analogy to describe her team’s readiness to rise to the occasion.
“You look at a hard and stale grain of rice, you put that into a pressure cooker and within 12 minutes it comes out as lovely fluffy rice that could be served with a beautiful curry,” Goddard said.
“So pressure does actually benefit some people, and I think we’ve got a good mix of people in our group that are going to respond very well to pressure.”
A squad of 24 has been named ahead of the final round, and includes hard-running midfielder Monique Hollick, who returns to the group after her wedding last weekend.
“She still hasn’t told us who took the hanger with the bouquet because none of us were there, so I’m not sure who took that mark!” Goddard said.
The final team will be named on afc.com.au on Friday afternoon at approximately 4pm SA time.
Sunday’s clash against Collingwood begins at 1:05pm SA time at Olympic Park in Melbourne.