Behind the Bounce: Adelaide Crows
The Adelaide Crows are most successful side in the Australian Football League Women’s competition and are still technically the reigning premiers as no champion was crowned during 2020. However, since the tail end of the 2019 season, the Crows have had to endure through a terrible run of injures that made it extremely difficult to replicate the same strength that their fans have become accustomed to.
The 2020 Recap
There playing list had no shortage of superstars with Anne Hatchard, Sarah Allan and Ebony Marinoff all enjoying strong performances during the 2020 season. Yet unfortunately their injury list was laden with just as much if not even more talent, with Erin Phillips managing just the two games during the shortened season, Courtney Cramey and Deni Varnhagen playing just the one game each, and Hannah Button, Chloe Scheer and Chelsea Randall missing the entire season.
Despite the injuries the Crows looked promising early, with the exception of a Round One defeat against Brisbane in Queensland. As Adelaide would claim back-to-back wins in the following weeks against the Saints, 6.4 (40) to 4.3 (27), and the Cats, 8.1 (49) to 6.2 (38) .
Losing that much talent though would be hard for any team to replace, and it began to show during the midpoint of the season. Losing to Carlton and North Melbourne in consecutive weeks, the injury laden Crows would then full out of final contention completely following a five point loss to the Giants in Round Six—albeit this was made redundant as the finals series were then fast-tracked and later cancelled entirely.
Surprisingly, despite losing four of their six matches, Adelaide were collecting more inside 50s than their opponents in majority of their matches. However, the major in-difference in rebound 50s tells us that they struggled to convert these chances.
Season Defining Moments
Madison Newman's Round Two clutch goal against the Saints. In just her second game of AFLW footy and at her spiritual home ground (Hisense Stadium), who else but Maddi Newman should pop up and kick the sealer?
With just four minutes remaining and the scores locked at 27 a piece, a goal on the run by the number seventeen locked in Adelaide's first win of the 2020 season--and Maddi's first win in the AFLW.
Round Sixes loss to the Giants was the final nail in the coffin for the Crows. As mentioned before it was made redundant be the eventual cancellation of the final series--but it would have been good to see the Crows end on a high note.
Falling to the GWS Giants by under a kick, 3.3 (21) to 4.2 (26) would be tough to swallow, especially when it was a make or break game. Little did we know at the time that it would be the final Adelaide game for the year.
However, looking at it from a glass half-full perspective, the injury crisis did have a small silver lining in it gave the Crows a chance to play their new draftees as well as add local SANFLW players, Rachelle Martin and Czenya Cavouras to their list as train-on. The former of which would then be picked up in this year’s draft.
Amongst their debutants for 2020 was West Adelaide defender turned AFLW forward, Madison Newman who would go onto play four matches, the best of which came in Round Two as she wracked up thirteen disposals and a goal during the Crows’ hard-fought win over the Saints. Joining her up-forward was a fellow West Adelaide draftee in Chelsea Biddell who collected thirty-five disposals and three goals across her six games.
Keeping with the SANFLW theme, the 2019 SANFL Women’s Best and Fairest, Najwa Allen averaged nine disposals and two inside 50s a match during her five matches, while Glenelg ruck Caitlin Gould made her presence felt during her four matches, averaging nine touches, two marks and two tackles a game. Gould especially made her presence felt in the SANFLW upon returning from AFLW duties.
Getting her chance late in the season was a two-time U18 All Australian in Montana McKinnon, but in just those two games she averaged seven touches, three tackles and two marks. The strong marking and high flying Montana will, along with Gould, prove to be Adelaide's main ruck duo for many years to come--along with the highly anticipated Zoe Prowse, who is surely on Adelaide's radar by now.
They call themselves the ‘pride of South Australia’ and their list is reflecting that, adding even more local talent during this year’s trade period and draft. Bringing Hannah Munyard, a two-time Central Allies player, home from the Western Bulldogs who will provide explosive pace for the Crows outfit for many years to come.
They also brought home a 2018 SANFLW premiership player in the form of Lisa Whiteley whose intercepting skills no doubt got her on the Crows’ radar this year. Also, not only returning to South Australia but returning back to the Crows is Jess Sedunary, a member of Adelaide’s 2017 premiership side who spent 2020 with St Kilda.
Adelaide’s first pick in the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft and the fourth overall, was used to pick up a member of the 2019 U18 All Australian side and South Adelaide Women’s 2020 Best and Fairest, Teah Charlton. With plenty of X factor and clean skills, she gives the Crows a dangerous asset to use up-forward.
The draft also saw Adelaide select the earlier aforementioned Rachelle Martin who claimed this year’s SANFLW League Best and Fairest. The fast-paced player can provide plenty of headaches for the opposition, particularly around the stoppages—and we look forward to seeing her play with sister, Hannah Button.
Their final pick in this year’s draft was used to get a-ready made AFLW player in North Adelaide’s Ashleigh Woodland. As a ground-level and aerial threat, Ashleigh claimed this year’s title of being the SANFLW Leading Goalkicker.
What are we looking forward to the most?
Turbo Continuing Her Stride
As our pick for the sides ‘role player’, Nikki Gore also known as Turbo, showed why she was the Crows first pick in the 2018 draft as the young midfielder played her best season to date this year. As a true tackling machine, Turbo collected more tackles than disposals during several rounds this year—finishing second in the side for most tackles this year.
Seeing Adelaide’s Sister Duo in Action
Hannah Button and Rachelle Martin, two SANFLW Best and Fairests and two proud products of West Adelaide—now get to stand side by side at the Crows. Rachelle got to experience some AFLW footy this year, but unfortunately Hannah was out with injury—but now it looks like the stars have aligned and we can finally see this sister-act together at the top tier.
"I couldn't be prouder of my little sister donning the tri-colours for the club we have grown up supporting. She has worked so hard to get to the top level and is finally being rewarded. I cant wait for people to see what she can do in the AFLW and I'm eager for that first game we can play together for the Crows." Hannah Button
Most would have picked Adelaide to be in premiership contention this year--but footy is a cruel a game sometimes, and their very talented injury list showed that. However, with some key inclusions from the draft and trade period, not to mention the abundance of talent that is set to return from injury--we are certain that the Crows can bounce back.
Adelaide face this year's finalist Melbourne in their Round One season opener and since it is away from home, that should give us an idea of how their 2021 campaign may play out.
After this, Adelaide have back to back home games against the Suns and Bulldogs, before going on the road again to play Collingwood at Victoria Park--you would think a full strength Adelaide would be competitive in all these three matches.
They then face the undefeated Fremantle at Norwood Oval, which is a bit of a rising star team meets the original stars clash. Their remaining four matches see them face Brisbane away which is always difficult, Carlton at home which is unpredictable, Richmond away which is dependent on the Tigers strength, and finally, they face the team that killed their final chances this year, the Giants, back here in Adelaide.
Adelaide's 2021 season will depend on injures--if they lose as much talent as what they did this year then they will be in trouble. However, they did get to bleed several debutants this season who will only be more competitive now that they have more experience--add too this several talented players that can slot straight into their side or that provide a valuable backup option, and it equals a good chance that the pride of South Australia will at least play finals again.
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Special Thanks to those who provided information for our Behind the Bounce series.