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Lions beat Crows in classic final to reach AFLW prelim

The Brisbane Lions are the first team through to the AFLW preliminary finals after a hard-fought win over the Adelaide Crows at Norwood Oval.

In the latest match in the rivalry between the two sides, the Lions hung on in the final seconds to secure a two-point victory, 6.3 (39) to 5.7 (37).

AFLW finals

First preliminary final

Brisbane Lions 6.3 (39) def Adelaide Crows 5.7 (37)

First elimination final

Gold Coast Suns vs Sydney Swans

The game was played at fierce intensity from the very start.

The Lions kicked the opener from Taylor Smith early in the first quarter, but the Crows hit back almost immediately with a score from Eloise Jones.

The only previous meeting this season came in round eight, when the Lions secured a three-point win in Brisbane.

The visitors’ forward pressure was key in the early stages, as they forced errors from the Adelaide defence.

One such mistake led to one of the goals of the season, as a kickout was spoiled and fell to Irish player Orla O’Dwyer, who took possession deep in the left forward pocket and nailed a brilliant kick off one step to give her team a nine-point margin.

That remained the difference between the sides at quarter-time.

The trend continued in the second term, with the Lions getting more players around the ball and forcing the ball free.

Brisbane struck first again, with a brilliant break down the left wing from Cathy Svarc, who freed up Courtney Hodder, who ran and produced a perfect kick to Dakota Davidson. Davidson went back and slotted the goal to put Brisbane 15 points clear.

But against the run of play, Adelaide broke free and Jones kicked the ball from just inside 50 to bounce through a vacant goalsquare for the Crows’ second.

The same player took advantage of a holding the ball call to boot her third from close range with six minutes left in the half.

Both sides seemed to have settled to play things out to half-time, but a Niamh Kelly snap right on the siren put the Crows in front by three points at the long break.

The momentum had shifted, and Adelaide came out in similar mode for the third term. Within three minutes Jones had her fourth, as the Lions gave her too much room and she napped a brilliant effort around her body from 35m.

Eloise Jones (right) became sthe fcirst player to kick four goals in an AFLW final — but it wasn’t enough for the Crows.(Getty Images: AFL Photos/Michael Willson)

Adelaide had a chance for a big lead, but Caitlin Gould missed with a set shot after a strong mark inside 50.

The Lions were under fierce pressure, but they made use of a rare opportunity, with Davidson kicking a goal after a 50-metre penalty.

Jones went back in defence for the Crows and took a couple of key intercept marks. But in the final seconds, the Lions burst forward and O’Dwyer kicked her second of the game to level the scores.

It was a tough final quarter with chances few and far between — the Crows led through a behind from Danielle Ponter, but the Lions hit the front after Sophie Conway marked and thumped the ball from 55m, bouncing over the back for Ally Anderson to volley home from near the goalline.

The game came down to the final seconds, as the Crows’ Yvonne Bonner held a key mark 40m out, then wheeled and kicked long. The Lions defence managed to spoil the ball through for a rushed behind, and time ran out for Adelaide.

The Lions now go through to a home prelim final, while the Crows will host the winner of tonight’s elimination final between Gold Coast and Sydney next week in a semi-final.

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Author: Russell White