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Crows storm into Grand Final

Football

Adelaide will play the Brisbane Lions in the inaugural AFL Women's grand final next week after defeating Collingwood by 24 points in hot conditions at Olympic Park yesterday.

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But the inaugural women’s decider will be played at Metricon Stadium – rather than the Lions’ preferred Gabba homeground – after officials deemed the surface unsafe for play. 

The AFL website reports that Stadiums Queensland and an AFL official inspected the Gabba ground today, determining to shift the match 70km down the road. 

The Lions finished six points clear at the top of the ladder and were adamant the grand final should be played at the Gabba.

Regardless, the Crows are pinching themselves to even be playing off for the premiership. Their grand final hopes were looking grim when they were held scoreless in the third quarter yesterday as their 13-point halftime lead turned into a seven-point deficit at three-quarter time.

Adelaide’s hearts were in their mouths when Collingwood’s Jess Cameron lined up for goal early in the final quarter.

But instead of giving the Pies a 13-point lead, she missed a sitter and the Crows grabbed their second life with both hands as they piled on the last five goals of the game to run out 10.10 (70) to 7.4 (46) winners.

Following Melbourne’s huge win over Fremantle on Saturday, the Crows had to beat the Magpies to qualify for the premiership decider after spending most of the season in the top two, including three weeks on top of the ladder.

If the Crows lost, Melbourne would have played the Lions next week.

Key forward Sarah Perkins and basketball-turned-football-star Erin Phillips played pivotal roles in the Crows’ come-from-behind victory. Perkins racked up 15 disposals, five marks and four goals while Phillips collected 21 touches and three goals.

Ebony Marinoff was also a valuable contributor for Adelaide with 17 touches and 12 tackles while Stevie-Lee Thompson also had an influence with 13 possessions.

Stephanie Chiocci (five tackles) and Sarah D’Arcy each had 13 disposals for Collingwood while Moana Hope and Cameron were effective up forward with two goals apiece.

The Crows’ domination of disposals (171-139), contested possessions (104-72) and inside-50s (33-18) was also a key factor in the result.

Adelaide’s win came at a cost though with Courtney Cramey suffering a concussion in the first quarter and taking no further part in the game. She is in a race against time to be fit for the grand final.

But Brisbane defender Nicole Hildebrand could be the heartbreak story of AFLW grand final week after her knee injury in yesterday’s draw with Carlton.

Hildebrand appeared to hyper-extend her left knee in a marking contest in the frenetic last quarter at Ikon Park.

She limped from the ground and looked in distress on the boundary.

Carlton stormed back from four goals down to level the scores with less than a minute left, kicking 6.1 (37) to Brisbane’s 5.7 (37).

Lions coach Craig Starcevich said post-match he did not have a chance to speak to his medical staff about the extent of Hildebrand’s injury.

“She’s got ice on her knee, I thought it might have been her ankle, we’ll see what comes of that,” he said.

After only managing one disposal in the first three quarters, Blues star Darcy Vescio had a huge input in the last quarter.

Defender Leah Kaslar had done a great job on Vescio and Starcevich did not blame her for the Carlton forward’s purple patch.

“There’s not much she could have done about what happened at the end there,” he said.

Blues coach Damien Keeping said Vescio’s game showcased her ability to have an impact, no matter what.

“We say it every week, but she’s an incredible player and can have a significant impact on the game from a low disposal count,” he said.

Brisbane were in the grand final regardless of this weekend’s results and remain the only unbeaten team in the inaugural AFLW.

-AAP

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