Adelaide AFLW coach Matthew Clarke says the second half of the season will give his team a true indication of how it stacks up against the competition’s best sides.

The Crows have enjoyed a stellar start to the 2023 campaign, reeling off five wins from five games, to be sitting second on the ladder at the halfway point. 

But this weekend, Clarke’s team will be faced with its biggest test of the season so far, taking on reigning premier Melbourne on its home deck of Casey Fields.

Speaking to the media on Friday, the two-time Premiership coach said the clash was a perfect litmus test, as the Crows prepared for a tough month of fixtures to close out the home and away season. 

“We’ve had a great start, there’s still a fair way to go though and we have some very tough matches in the back-end of the season,” Clarke said.

“It all starts this weekend with a big match against Melbourne, two undefeated sides going at it.

“Unless it’s a draw after this weekend only one will remain, so it’s going to be a very entertaining game.

“We came into the year knowing the second half of the season would probably define where we sit, and coming into it without having lost a game so far, it’s a great spot to be in.”

Melbourne enters the top-of-the-table clash as the form side of the competition.

Sitting on top of the ladder with an imposing percentage of 306.9, the Demons will be looking to extend their winning streak to 15 on Saturday afternoon.

Clarke identified the strengths of the Melbourne side, and how his team could counteract them. 

“There’s good history between us, we’ve had some great battles and we know this weekend will be no different,” Clarke said.

“They are such a balanced side, their strengths are right across the park and play together as a unit really well. 

“If I was to pinpoint one strength from this year, it’d be their potency inside 50 and ability to convert, they are well ahead of the competition in that area, so defensively we will need to be at our best.” 

The Crows backline will receive a boost this weekend, with Premiership defender Najwa Allen returning from a hamstring injury, alongside versatile utility Stevie-Lee Thompson. 

“We are in pretty good shape with the health of our list at the moment, and getting Stevie-Lee and Najwa back will really bolster us for this week,” Clarke said.

“Over the last fortnight our backline has really started to come together, and I’ve been really impressed with the young group back there.

“Getting Najwa back in that group this week will be big for us, and I can’t wait to see them take on the challenge of the Demons.”

Adelaide plays Melbourne at Casey Fields on Saturday at 2.35pm (ACDT).