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EJ shines in AFLW thriller

Eloise Jones AFLW Qualifying Final

It was a dramatic opening final of the AFLW finals campaign, with far-reaching implications. Silver City connection Eloise Jones kicked a career-high four goals in a best-on-ground performance and nearly took another contender for mark of the year, but the Crows lost to their bitter rivals Brisbane in the Qualifying Final thriller by just two points.

This loss now means Adelaide will need to win three games, including away Preliminary and Grand Finals, to clinch the AFLW premiership cup.

Brisbane has built up a big rivalry against the Crows, which extends back to the AFLW season one decider, where at Carrara Stadium, Adelaide won the inaugural premiership by a single straight kick. Since then, the Lions’ all-time ledger has improved to an 8-3 win-loss ratio.

They inflicted the Crows’ only loss in the season eight regular season, beating them at home in Ipswich in round eight by three points, and won a spine-tingling finish on Saturday, 6.3 (39) to 5.7 (37) by two points at Norwood Oval.

Along with nearly taking the mark of the year after a leap like “a startled gazelle” in the final quarter, Jones was mercurial around goals.

The Broken Hill native dragged the Crows back into the contest with three first-half goals, and at times in the second half, Crows coach Matthew Clarke pushed Jones across half-back as an extra intercept defender.

Amazingly, Adelaide had the seven top possession winners in the game, including Jones’ 17 disposals, four marks, four tackles, and those quartet of majors.

Jones’ first goal was a simple goal-square conversion from a free kick, but her second was special. Adelaide desperately needed some inspiration after being dominated early, and Jones made the most of a turnover at half-forward, charging away from her opponent and booting for goal right on the 50-metre arc at the Roger Woodcock end of The Parade.

The cleverly directed kick rolled through, and suddenly it was game on. Jones finished with four goals, proving an unstoppable force when in the forward line.

“Ultimately, they (Brisbane) managed that last bit of the game better than us,” Adelaide Crows coach Matthew Clarke said in the post-game presser. “Brisbane were impressive early with 13 inside 50s to three in the first quarter. Any game that is won by under a goal there is a bit of luck involved.

“Our numbers read well after quarter time, so then you’ve got to take your chances. EJ’s rewards came off the back of her work rate and ability to keep getting to the contest. It was an outstanding performance. We now need to manage the disappointment of this loss really well. You still must win three games in a row to win the premiership and we need to tick the first one off next Saturday.”

Jones’ stellar performance was in front of a crowd of 4,209 patrons at Norwood Oval. The Crows now play expansion team Sydney in an elimination semi-final game, in another contest at Norwood Oval. This has been scheduled for a 7.15pm start on Saturday evening, CST. A win against the Swans would mean a Melbourne-based preliminary final, against the North Melbourne Kangaroos on the weekend of Saturday, November 25.

The 2023 AFLW Grand Final will be held on Sunday, December 3.

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