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AFLW: Phillips a 'freak of nature'

Matilda Conlon, with staff writers  March 20, 2017 1:48 PM

AFLW 2017 Rd 07 - Collingwood v Adelaide

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 19: Erin Phillips of the Crows kicks the ball during the 2017 AFLW Round 07 match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Adelaide Crows at Olympic Park Oval on March 19, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)

She and I spoke on Monday and she had that crazy look in her eye, a bit crazier than mine. She wanted to go the next step.

The “crazy look” in the eyes of Erin Phillips last week translated into a match-defining performance against Collingwood.

A noted big-game performer on the global basketball stage, Phillips thrived in the pressure-cooker environment on Sunday.

The Olympian and two-time WNBA Championship winner kicked three goals from a season-high 22 possessions to help sink the Magpies, and propel the Crows into the inaugural AFL Women’s Grand Final.

Coach Bec Goddard said the co-captain had a steely resolve in the lead-up.

“Erin’s an amazing leader. She was very, very focused this week,” Goddard said.

“She and I spoke on Monday and she had that crazy look in her eye, a bit crazier than mine. She wanted to go the next step.”

It was Phillips who kicked Adelaide’s first goal of the game – a classy, roving snap to break a run of three straight behinds.

The 31-year-old was also one of a number of Crows who helped drag the team back from an eight-point deficit in the thrilling last quarter.

Key forward Sarah Perkins restored a narrow Crows lead with two quick goals.  

Then in scenes reminiscent of the game against Carlton at Thebarton Oval, Phillips sealed the win.

She nailed a goal on the run from just inside the 50m arc, and then snapped another bouncing ball across her body to extend the lead to 16 points.

“You never know when something like that’s going to happen with Erin, do you?” Goddard said after the game.

“She’s a freak of nature.”

Phillips also won six clearances and generated four inside 50ms in Adelaide’s 24-point win.

The dynamic midfielder/forward downplayed her own performance, praising the team effort.

“I don’t really think about it, I just do whatever it takes to win,” Phillips said.

“I had a couple of goals that were really important at some good moments, so that helped take the pressure off a little bit.”

The Crows will play the Brisbane Lions on Saturday.

Phillips urged her team to make the most of the opportunity.

“It’s amazing. It’s massive for us just as a team and as a football club, but there’s one step to go,” she said.

“It’s great to be there, but we don’t want to just be there. We want to win.”

Melbourne’s big win over Fremantle on Saturday heaped pressure on the Crows, who needed to beat Collingwood - where Erin's father Greg played 84 senior games - to secure a spot in the decider.

Phillips was always confident the team would respond after consecutive defeats at the hands of the Demons and Lions.

“Never get too high on a win and never get too low on a loss, that’s where we stand,” she said.

“I didn’t feel too much pressure because I know when we play our style of footy, it’s good enough to beat anybody.

“I thought our fourth quarter was some of the best football we’ve played all year. Just so proud of the girls.”

The Lions and the Crows are going into the unknown this week ahead of the first ever AFLW Grand Final.

Fortunately, Phillips can draw on her own experiences and those of her famous footballing family.

“I’ll be asking my brother-in-law (Hawthorn’s Shaun Burgoyne) for some advice.

"He’s won four (Premierships), played in five, so I’ll be asking him what he does.”