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AFLW heavyweights Melbourne and Adelaide kick off the AFLW Season 7 Final Series with a massive Qualifying Final clash at Ikon Park this Friday night at 7:10pm.  The game promises to be a cracker.
Last season’s Grand Final combatants last met in Round 1where Melbourne came away with a strong 18-point victory at Glenelg Oval. The Dees will be hoping to replicate the result and move directly to the Preliminary Final. 
While Adelaide may not have been as intimidating this season as in previous years, they only lost twice.  To the Demons in Round 1 and then Brisbane in Round 8 (by 22 points).
Against other fellow finalists they earned narrow wins: Richmond (9 points), Collingwood (5) and Geelong (2).  
The Crows boast a heap of premiership talent right across the ground:

• Their stars Ebony Marinoff, Anne Hatchard, and Chelsea Randall, the lively Niamh Kelly, wingers Eloise Jones and Stevie-Lee Thompson together form a top-shelf midfield combination;

• Their in-form forward line contains two of the competitions leading goal scorers in ex-Dee Ash Woodland and Danielle Ponter, who is proving to be a match winner this season; and

• Their whole defensive unit, led by Sarah Allan and Chelsea Biddell, is experiencedand finals hardened.
Our Supergirl Tayla Harris once described Adelaide captain Chelsea Randall as her kryptonite, so she will be watching the teams’ announcements to see whether Chelsea springs a surprise return from her ankle injury. 
With a clean bill of health last week, the selectors have chosen to go in with an unchanged line-up. 
Our backline, led by Birch and Gillard, is statistically the best in the league with 184 points against. The defensive group has gelled really well against lesser opponents these past 6 weeks but will be thoroughly tested in this final.  Goldie and Gay will be important components.
Our midfield group has been excellent all season.  Purcell, West, Hanks, Mithen,  Heath, the tyro Mackin, and the ubiquitous Paxy are combining so well each week. Ruck, Loz Pearce is back to form and her duties are shared with Harris. 

Coach Mick Stinear strategically mixes Tayla’s gametime between the ruck, around the ground and forward with great team effect. 
The sides are evenly matched this week, but our multi-optioned attack has been difficult for opposition backlines to contain for four quarters.  With Harris, Hore, Zanker, excitement machine Bannan and our experienced, wily skipper Daisy, there be plenty of potential headaches for Matthew Clarke and his Crow defenders.

And a big shout out to Eden Zanker for her 50th game!!!
History has seen these teams play 8 times with 4 wins apiece. Notably 2 of Adelaide’s wins were finals matches. At Ikon Park (against Carlton) Adelaide has played twice for 2 wins while Melbourne has played three times for 3 wins. 
Matthew Clarke, the Crows Senior Coach, was happy to finish the home and away season in the Top 4.  He singled out Zoe Prowse and Danielle Ponter for praise for their recent performances.  He was most happy with how Adelaide found ways to win close games but knows they must polish up their performance if they are to be successful in this finals campaign.  When he was asked about Melbourne next week, he gave nothing away.
Mick Stinear, the Demons coach, wants his team to continue to live in the moment, take their chances for goal and play out the full four quarters.  Ikon is a happy ground for Melbourne and our game plan will flourish in a more pristine environment than the travails of Casey Fields. 
It’s going to be on from the first bounce, we can win this one.
Melbourne by 11 points

Melbourne v Adelaide at Ikon Park (Princes Park), on Friday 4 November 2022 at 7:10pm (Melbourne time)


Melbourne 4 wins

Adelaide 4 wins

At Ikon Park 

Melbourne 0 wins

Adelaide 0 wins

The Coaches

Stinear 4 wins

Clarke 3 wins

TV - live on 7 and Kayo. Check your local guides.
Radio - check your local guides.

Melbourne 6.8 (44) defeated Adelaide 4.2 (26) at Norwood Oval, 26 August 2022
Melbourne exorcised their Season 6 Grand Final demons by defeating Adelaide in a rematch at Norwood Oval by 18 points.  It was a pressure-filled match and showed that Melbourne had improved its contested football ability with Purcell and West allowing Paxman to work hard on the outside.  We didn’t relent all evening.  A 4-quarter performance.
Harris renewed her acquaintance with Crows skipper Chelsea Randall in a fascinating battle and the two followed each forward and on the ball, both starring for their respective teams.
For the Crows, Ash Woodland was dangerous kicking 3 goals and Hatchard played well in her 50th game.  Ponter threatened to bring Adelaide back into contention with a goal in the last quarter but then Zanker and Paxman goaled and put the contest beyond doubt.

Adelaide: Woodland 3, Ponter

Melbourne: Hore, Harris, Hanks, D Pearce, Zanker, Paxman

Adelaide:  Hatchard, Randall, Woodland, Thompson, Biddell, Newman

Melbourne:  West, Paxman, Purcell, Harris, Hore, Lampard

Adelaide:  Nil

Melbourne:  Nil

Adelaide 4.5 (29) defeated Melbourne 2.4.16 at Adelaide Oval, 9 April 2022 [Season 6 Grand Final]
Meggs re-watched last year’s grand final to refresh the memory. 
We have definitely improved this season. Our superior skill execution under pressure this year is evident across the whole team. 
The Crows not so much but their 4-quarter pressure was too much for us on this day.  Some of our kicking and slow decision making was highly predictable, caused by their pressure and provided easy pickings for the Adelaide defenders. 
Libby Birch had some ‘mare moments and through ill-discipline gave away the first goal.  Mick will be pondering the best matchups for Ponter and Woodland this week.  He has options.
Goldie, Paxy, Hore, Loz Pearce and Hanksy were good throughout the match, our currently injured duo of McNamara and Colvin were strong contributors too and Bannan’s goal, the first half highlight. 
Marinoff and Hatchard were superb all day, as was Ponter.  Meanwhile Randall blanketed Harris.
The Crows were simply too good on the day and deserving winners.

Adelaide: Ponter 2, Phillips, Hewett

Melbourne: Bannan, Hore

Adelaide:  Hatchard (best-on-field), Marinoff, Ponter, Phillips, Randall, Allan

Melbourne:  Paxman, Goldrick, McNamara, Hore, L Pearce, Mithen

Adelaide:  Nil

Melbourne:  Sherriff (wrist)


MELBOURNE - No change




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