Adelaide have become the first team to win three AFLW premierships, holding off a late surge from Melbourne to win the grand final by 13 points.
Four days after finishing second in the AFLW best and fairest, Anne Hatchard was named best on ground, with 26 disposals, five clearances, six tackles and nine marks in a 4.5 (29) to 2.4 (16) win at Adelaide Oval.
In atoning for last season’s grand-final defeat, the Crows have now won three of the five grand finals since the AFLW started, adding the 2022 flag to their 2017 and 2019 triumphs.
Danielle Ponter (two goals) was Adelaide’s spark up forward while Chelsea Randall and Chelsea Biddell double-teamed Tayla Harris to keep the star forward goalless.
Ebony Marinoff and Erin Phillips were also excellent.
Former Carlton and Brisbane forward Harris also earned the unenviable statistic of becoming the first player to lose an AFLW or VFL/AFL grand final with three separate clubs.
All three losses came against the Crows.
For Melbourne, Sinead Goldrick (20 disposals) was brave all day in defence while Karen Paxman, Gabrielle Colvin and Eliza McNamara were busy.
Adelaide were suffocating with their pressure in a dominant first half, consistently forcing Melbourne into poor kicks inside 50 where Crows defenders could intercept.
Adelaide drew first blood when defender Libby Birch gave away a free kick off the ball for bumping Ponter.
While Ponter’s shot drifted wide, grand-final inclusion Jasmyn Hewett leapt to take a massive mark on the goal line before snapping the opener.
Adelaide let Melbourne off on multiple occasions throughout the second quarter until Phillips snapped to deliver a 17-point lead.
With it, she became the second AFLW player after Carlton’s Darcy Vescio to reach the 50-goal mark.
Alyssa Bannan gave the Demons life out of nowhere just before half-time when she intercepted Caitlin Gould’s kick across defence and ran into an open goal to keep the half-time margin at 10.
The Crows got off to the perfect start in the second half when Ponter outmuscled Birch in the goal square to mark, then restore a 16-point lead.
From there on Melbourne had a resurgence after putting Daisy Pearce behind the ball with Kate Hore drawing them within two goals.
Melbourne peppered Adelaide’s goal without reward at the end of the third term and start of the fourth, while Casey Sherriff was forced from the field with a wrist injury.
Then, against the run of play, the Crows broke down the wing and found Ponter, who took a mark, played on and iced the game.