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Riley’s Ruminations: Crows premiership player previews 2021 AFLW Grand Final

Former Adelaide and Gold Coast player and Crows 2017 premiership player Sally Riley looks at all the key match-ups and the talking points ahead of Saturday’s AFLW Grand Final between Adelaide and Brisbane.


Here we are again, deja vu. The last day on the AFLW calendar, and Brisbane meets Adelaide in the AFLW Grand Final in a replay of what happened in 2017. It is quite fitting to think that with the enormous amount of progression, development and improvement the League has made over the last five years these two teams are back at the top, or have they ever really left it?

What’s at stake?

Other than stating the obvious, this match-up is huge for the rivalry of these two clubs. A healthy rivalry to be exact. Both teams have been consistent performers in finals and both have a large group of players and coaches with Grand Final Experience. Adelaide keeps raising the bar and climbing the mountain, but can they etch their names into the history books with a third flag to stand alone as the greatest AFLW team? Brisbane, on the other hand, is desperately chasing that elusive maiden flag after two Grand Final defeats in four years. With this exciting Lions list pumped and ready, a breakthrough win this weekend would see Craig Starcevich’s group finally get the reward they’ve worked so hard to achieve.

Brisbane players made for the big stage:

Brisbane has been building nicely to peak at the right time of the year and it has a number of players ready to take their game to the next level and excel on the big stage. Dakota Davidson’s energy is infectious, and she will love to get on the board early to get everyone up and about. Courtney Hodder will love the narrow pockets at Adelaide Oval and will be dangerous from all angles as she supports the tall targets up forward. Veteran Lauren Arnell will have the experience and calm head to help steer the ship when its needed, and the ever-reliable Kate Lutkins and Emily Bates will again lead from the front when the pressure mounts.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – FEBRUARY 21: Kate Lutkins of the Lions Chelsea Randall of the Crows compete for the ball during the round four AFLW match between the Brisbane Lions and the Adelaide Crows at Hickey Park on February 21, 2021 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Glenn Hunt/Getty Images via AFL Photos)

Adelaide players made for the big stage:

The Adelaide Crows pride themselves on being a fierce and relentless group with a team first attitude where individual stats are never a focus. In a star-studded team, it’s the second and third-tier players in this side that will rise on Saturday as they continue to do each week.  Other than the usual big name suspects, it’s the likes of Eloise Jones and her composure, Dayna Cox’s defensive attributes, Rachelle Martin’s tenacity in every contest and Rhi Metcalfe’s resilience and ruck smarts that makes this team very hard to stop.

Smokey for BOG:

Eloise Jones. She just missed out in 2019 when Erin Phillips won her second best on ground medal, but I know how much ‘EJ’ loves those goals at Adelaide Oval and I believe we will see her put on a show for all to enjoy.


There is huge amount of AFLW experience in both sides with a number of players on or near the 40-game milestone mark, so it will come down to which team has the greatest depth and contributors on the day. Coaches Craig Starcevich and Matthew Clarke are masterminds and will leave no stone unturned with both squads having the luxury of having so many versatile players at their disposal. But, for me, even without inspirational leader Chelsea Randall, the well-drilled Crows’ synergy and even ability on the inside and outside of the contest will see them top the Lions in a close game. Six points was the difference in 2017, and I think the Crows will win by the same margin this year.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 8: The Crows 2017 leadership group (L-R) Sally Riley, Chelsea Randall, Erin Phillips and Angela Foley pose for a portrait during the Adelaide Crows Womens team photo day at AAMI Stadium on December 8, 2017 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)