Sarah Perkins and Erin Phillips have saved Adelaide’s season, combining for four goals in the final term to sink Collingwood by 24 points and allowing their side to join Brisbane in next weekend’s Grand Final.
A stirring third term from the Pies put Adelaide’s flag hopes in serious doubt, but Perkins’ two goals to start the final quarter, four for the day, followed by Phillips’ two protected their side from the threat of percentage.
With Collingwood kicking such a high score, Phillips’ two late goals, followed by a sealer from Jessica Sedunary, were crucial to keeping Melbourne out of second place.
Starting forward with chatter of an injury, Erin Phillips showed no signs of a strain as she roved off a pack to open the goalkicking in 32 degree heat.
The Magpies made sure there would be no one-way traffic early, with Steph Chiocci spotting up Jasmine Garner on the lead to kick a booming goal from distance.
Fellow key forward Jess Cameron marked overhead to put Collingwood ahead against the flow, but the ever-present Sarah Perkins stood up at the other end to regain the lead ahead of quarter time.
The goals continued to flow in the second term as Moana Hope got on the scoreboard from a free kick, but Rachael Killian responded with a goal from nothing in congestion.
Christina Bernardi’s goal within 15 seconds of Killian’s knotted the scores at 25 apiece, but some late moments of mastery from Sarah Perkins helped the Crows take a two-goal lead into the major break.
First marking and goaling then dishing off to Jenna McCormick, Perkins was the difference in the first half with 10 disposals, five marks and two goals.
Just as it looked as though Adelaide might run away with the game, Collingwood responded with a sensational third term effort.
Finding her footing in the competition, Moana Hope setup Alicia Eva to convert from close range – the midfielder receiving a jab to her ribs from Dayna Cox for her efforts – before using her body to mark and goal and level the scores.
The momentum swing was complete when Jess Cameron mimicked Hope’s goal, marking strongly and giving Collingwood a seven-point lead at the final change, completing a 20-point turnaround in the term.
Adelaide needed something special to book a place in the Grand Final, and cometh the hour, cometh the woman.
First roving out the back of her own contest then converting a free kick, Sarah Perkins flipped the game on its head to turn a seven-point deficit into a four-point advantage.
Phillips took the reins in the forward line, adding two remarkable goals to her highlight reel – one another bomb from outside 50, the other a ridiculous snap that bent at the final moment – to drag her side over the line.
Jessica Sedunary put the finishing touches on the performance, converting a goal from the goal line to give the illusion of a comfortable victory, though it was anything but.
It was a mammoth effort from the Crows to come from behind and make the biggest game in women’s footy history, but it’s not all positives in South Australia.
Defender and SA foot stalwart Courtney Cramey missed most of the game with a concussion and potential jaw damage, and marquee signing Kellie Gibson was taken to the sidelines and struggled through the remainder of the match.
In the short-term, the injuries won’t matter to the side that deserves to be elated with their performance.
On the same token, the Magpies can be proud of their efforts in the back half of the season.
A loss in the final round means they finish with a negative record of 3-4, but three straight wins after going back to basics proves that Collingwood has plenty to work with going into 2018.
For the Crows, it’s all about next week’s date with Brisbane in the 2017 AFLW Grand Final.
Special mention must go to Ebony Marinoff again, who after racking up a combined 27 tackles in her last two games again reach double figures, this time with 11.
Collingwood: 2.1, 4.1, 7.3, 7.4 (46)
Adelaide: 2.5, 5.8, 5.8, 10.10 (70)
Collingwood: Moana Hope 2, Jessica Cameron 2, Jasmine Garner, Christina Bernardi, Alicia Eva
Adelaide: Sarah Perkins 4, Erin Phillips 3, Rachael Killian, Jenna McCormick, Jessica Sedunary
Collingwood: Stephanie Chiocci (13), Sarah D’Arcy (13), Alicia Eva (11), Meg Hutchins (11)
Adelaide: Erin Phillips (22), Ebony Marinoff (17), Sarah Perkins (15)