Crows fight past tough Tigers in AFLW

·2-min read

Youngster Abbie Ballard was Adelaide's unlikely hero as the Crows claimed a nine-point comeback victory over Richmond to get their AFLW premiership defence back on track.

The Tigers led by eight points at three-quarter time and appeared set for a stunning boilover, which would have condemned Adelaide to a 0-2 start.

But two costly final-quarter kickouts from Richmond defender Rebecca Miller resulted in Ballard kicking her first and second AFLW goals to snatch a 5.6 (36) to 4.3 (27) victory from the jaws of defeat.

It was a welcome response after Adelaide were well beaten by Melbourne in their opening-round grand final rematch.

"We need to keep getting better, we're not where we need to be just yet," coach Matthew Clarke said.

"But I thought it was a really important day for our group.

"It's a brand new season and to work through some adversity over the last week and to come out and be challenged again and then to find a way to win was really important."

Adelaide midfield dynamos Ebony Marinoff (22 disposals, 487 metres gained, 11 tackles) and Anne Hatchard (26 disposals, six clearances) were brilliant, while skipper Chelsea Randall stepped up massively when thrown forward in the final term.

Richmond star Monique Conti racked up the ball at will, finishing with 26 disposals, five clearances, seven tackles and 423 metres gained and was well supported by Tessa Lavey.

Courtney Wakefield booted two goals and provided a presence all day amid skipper Katie Brennan's ongoing injury-enforced absence.

Adelaide snared the first two goals through star goalkicker Ashleigh Woodland and youngster Zoe Prowse.

But Richmond lifted and led by two points at the main break, then eight at three-quarter time.

The Crows responded in the final term, piling pressure on Richmond's defence, which paid off when Ballard read Miller's kickout and glided across to intercept.

Ballard slotted her first AFLW goal to give the Crows a one-point lead with less than eight minutes to go.

Two minutes later Randall made a desperate spoil from another Miller kickout and in the subsequent contest, Ballard copped a high tackle.

The 20-year-old steered through her second to put the Tigers out of reach - Richmond's second straight heartbreak after a tight loss to Geelong.

"We're all flat as a tack in there," Tigers coach Ryan Ferguson said.

"We've definitely moved on from competitive efforts, we're ready to break through and we didn't break through today, so pretty disappointed about that.

"But also, we played a hell of a brand of footy and took it up to the reigning premier and showed what we're capable of."