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AFLW: Still in the hunt

Lee Gaskin, AFL Media  March 9, 2018 9:27 PM

AFLW Highlights: R6 v Fremantle See all the highlights from a tough clash in Darwin
The belief rolls on another week

The reigning NAB AFLW champions won't give up their crown without a fight.

After an 0-2 start to the season, Adelaide's audacious premiership defence is still alive courtesy of a gutsy four-point win against Fremantle at TIO Stadium on Friday night.

In sweltering Top End conditions that forced the heat policy to be invoked, the Crows handled everything the Dockers threw at them to prevail 6.4 (40) to 5.6 (36) in Darwin in front of a crowd of 2,159.

Erin Phillips was once again outstanding despite being clearly hampered with a quad injury, booting three goals, Sarah Allan was a rock in defence and acting captain Angela Foley was busy across half-back.

The Crows have won three of their past four, including a draw, to move to second on the ladder on 14 points, and will have to hope results go their way before they face Collingwood in the last game of the season next Sunday to keep their dream of reaching the Grand Final alive.

"The belief rolls on another week," Crows coach Bec Goddard said.

"We have to win next week and hope a result or two goes our way, and we'll be there.

"We're not looking beyond next week, we've got to get next week done."

Dana Hooker – who had a game-high 20 disposals – was brilliant for the Dockers (2-4), who were desperately unlucky to lose their third straight game.

"I couldn't fault their effort, they really came to play and put up a really good contest," Dockers coach Michelle Cowan said.

"We, as a coaching group and a footy club, are proud of that effort.

"That's the expectation week in, week out, that we bring that effort and drive and intensity and pressure and passion to play."

With the temperature at 32 degrees and 71 per cent humidity, players retreated to the air-conditioned change-rooms during the eight-minute quarter-time and three-quarter time breaks, while the half-time break was extended to 20 minutes.

The atmospheric heat was matched by the intensity on the ground as both sides threw everything at each other.

The lead swapped hands several times during the game, with Hooker's second goal with less than five minutes on the clock in the final term ensuring a tense finish.

Tenacious Crows midfielder Ebony Marinoff copped an elbow to the face and left the ground a couple times with the blood rule, but still laid 16 tackles.

It was the Crows' first win in Darwin in four attempts after two pre-season losses to the Dockers, and falling to Melbourne in the corresponding fixture last year.

"It was so tough, and it was so great to have the Darwin supporters behind us, because it got really rowdy in the last few minutes," Goddard said.

Working out the ladder

Adelaide moves back to second on the ladder on 14 points, but faces a nervous wait during the last three games of the penultimate round. The Western Bulldogs (16 points), Brisbane Lions (14) and Melbourne (14) will all be favoured to win their respective games. The Crows will be desperately hoping for an upset. If that doesn't happen, they will need a couple things to go their way next week before they face Collingwood in the last game of the home and away season to get into the Grand Final.

One to watch

It was fitting that the final mark of the game belonged to Adelaide defender Sarah Allan. The 20-year-old was the rock in the Crows' backline, repelling wave after wave of Dockers' attack. Allan has taken her game to another level in her second season and must be close to a Rising Star nomination.

In the wars

Last week, Adelaide's tackling machine Ebony Marinoff wound up with a busted tongue and needed six stitches. This week, the tenacious midfielder had blood pouring from her cheek after an accidental elbow to the face. Nevertheless, Marinoff soldiered on and racked up 16 tackles.

So close, yet so far

You've got to feel for Fremantle. Two wins and four losses isn't a fair reflection of their season. A four-point loss to the reigning premiers comes after they went down by seven points to last season's runners-up, Brisbane. There's a lot of positives for the Dockers to take into next year.

Say what?

"Ebony Marinoff, 11 stiches in two weeks in her head, first her tongue and now the face. She's the toughest player in the competition. She does really hard work for us and we just tried to fill the hole while she was on and off the ground." – Adelaide coach Bec Goddard.

"I couldn't fault their effort, they really came to play and put up a really good contest. We, as a coaching group and a footy club, are proud of that effort. That's the expectation week in, week out, that we bring that effort and drive and intensity and pressure and passion to play." – Fremantle coach Michelle Cowan.

What’s next?

The Crows will hope their Grand Final hopes are still alive when they take on Collingwood in the last game of the home and away season next Sunday, March 18, 2.35pm (AEDT) at Olympic Park Oval. Meanwhile, the Dockers host Carlton next Saturday, March 17, 2.05pm (AWST) at Fremantle Oval.

Match details

ADELAIDE    
3.0   4.0   5.1   6.4 (40)
FREMANTLE  
1.2   2.4   4.6   5.6 (36)

GOALS
Adelaide: Phillips 3, Rajcic, Perkins, Sedunary
Fremantle: Hooker 2, Filocamo, Atkins, Antonio 

BEST 
Adelaide: Allan, Foley, Phillips, Randall, Cramey, Marinoff
Fremantle: Hooker, Donnellan, Miller, Antonio, Gooch, Cain 

INJURIES 
Adelaide: Nil
Fremantle: Nil 

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Dore, Galbraith, Broadbent

Official crowd: 2159 at TIO Stadium