An impressive Adelaide outfit has held off the inaccurate Western Bulldogs to leap to the top of the AFLW ladder after a 25-point win at Whitten Oval on Friday night.
Adelaide was under plenty of pressure right from the start of the game but with the Dogs unable to convert, the Crows were able to take advantage. Their ball movement from defence was scintillating at times as they went from defence to attack within seconds.
Sarah Perkins' sweet kicking helped take her side into the main break with an 11-point lead, while Ebony Marinoff starred all night with 18 disposals.
Midfield stars Emma Kearney and Ellie Blackburn were once again prolific for the Bulldogs but their efforts were not enough to lead their side to victory, denying the crowd the chance to sing the newly-coined 'Daughters of the West' for the first time.
Adelaide coach Bec Goddard pointed to a couple of aspects of her side's play that had led to the upset victory.
"The pressure acts that we talked about pre-match, that we've talked about all season," Goddard said.
"It was a team effort. There was not one person on the team that didn't contribute to that game tonight, regardless of the statistics."
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.5 1.6 2.9 2.11 (23)
ADELAIDE 1.2 3.5 6.5 7.6 (48)
Western Bulldogs: Brennan, McLeod
Adelaide: Perkins 2, Sedunary, Killian, McCormick, Gibson, Foley
Western Bulldogs: Blackburn, Kearney, McLeod, Scott, Spark
Adelaide: Marinoff, Phillips, Holmes, Killian, Sedunary, Perkins
Western Bulldogs: Nil
Adelaide: Armitstead (corked calf)
Umpires: Cheever, Burns, Mirabile
Official crowd: 7,669 at Whitten Oval
It was over when …
Late in the third quarter, the ball was booted deep into Adelaide's forward line and looked like it could roll through for a behind, but Jenna McCormick wasn't interested in letting that happen. She collected the ball with her right hand, ran a few steps away from goal before snapping the ball over her shoulder to put her side up by 14 points. Kellie Gibson repeated the dose moments later to give the Crows a significant buffer heading into the last break.
Sarah Perkins was undrafted and came to the Crows as a free agent, and she has certainly made an impact. She slotted two of her side's three goals in the first half, including a set shot from about 40m. Her effort stood in stark contrast to some of the Bulldogs, particularly Kirsten McLeod. While the small forward looked dangerous in attack, she was unable to make the most of her opportunities and finished with 1.4.
She's the priority
Marquee player Ellie Blackburn was much talked about in the pre-season and while she has delivered so far, priority selection Emma Kearney has been just as impressive for the Bulldogs. She can win the ball in the clinches but is perhaps most dangerous from kick-outs. From the half-back flank, Kearney is almost certain to slide past a couple of opponents before finding a teammate each time with sublime delivery.
On the rise
After Adelaide's Ebony Marinoff was nominated for the NAB Rising Star last week (along with Bailey Hunt from the Bulldogs), the 19-year-old might been forgiven a slight drop-off this week. That certainly wasn't the case though. She racked up 18 disposals and was especially important early in the game, when the Crows were under immense pressure. Her reliable kicking helped keep her side in the contest before they were able to run away with the win.
"The big thing about us is that while we respect every opposition we play, we always make it about us. Our training, pre-match, in the change rooms, we're always talking about what we can do and what we can do better as a team." – Adelaide coach Bec Goddard.
"If you don't kick them (goals), you're going to be up against it. Momentum swings so much. You need to take them, not that the girls are deliberately trying to miss. It would've been nice to kick one of those earlier ones just to get the momentum back a little bit." – Western Bulldogs coach Paul Groves.
The Bulldogs will play their third-straight match at Whitten Oval when they host Melbourne next Saturday at 7.40pm (AEDT). Adelaide will attempt to notch up its third straight win at Thebarton Oval when it comes up against Carlton on the Sunday at 11.35am (ACDT).