Grand Final bound again

Eloise “EJ” Jones makes her third AFLW Grand Final appearance. PICTURE: PETER ARGENT
By Peter Argent

Still just 22 years of age and a veteran of 40 games of AFLW football, Eloise “EJ” Jones will make her third Grand Final appearance at the top level today.

She will be a crucial component of the Adelaide Crows structures as the club searches for its third premiership title from four attempts.

Jones was a member of the emphatic 2019 flag winning success and played in last year’s Grand Final loss on Adelaide Oval to Brisbane, where another legendary name from Broken Hill football, Brent Staker, was a part of the Lions coaching staff.

Adelaide has endured just one loss during the ’22 regular season, a one-point thriller against the Western Bulldogs and enters the Grand Final against the

Melbourne Demons this Saturday at 12 noon on Adelaide Oval as slight favourites.

Jones’ impressive 2022 campaign has been recognized by her selection in the All Australian squad of 40, from which the final 22-women team will be selected this week.

“I believe this might be my second selection in the squad of 40 as I’ve been nominated one other time,” Jones told the Barrier Truth on Tuesday, April 5.

“I reckon it’s (the 2022 season) definitely been my most consistent season and my form has been good because everyone in the team has been playing so well.

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“My preparation hasn’t been too much different this season.

“I’m confident what we have done has been working, so we’ll just keep to that!

“The event (2022 W Awards) will be held in Melbourne, but we will call in from Adelaide just to be COVID safe for the weekend.”

Jones has felt both ends of the emotional spectrum on AFLW Grand Final day.

The euphoria of the emphatic 2019 win against Carlton and the agony of the defeat last season.

“Yes, I’ve been very fortunate to have been involved in two other Grand Finals before Saturday’s game,” Jones smiled.

“It feels a lot nicer when you finish the game and get a medal, so that’s the aim for the weekend.

“I don’t know about motivation (from the loss last year).

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“I think I just put into perspective the other side of the Grand Final and no one wants to experience that feeling again.

“The coaching staff didn’t use it as fire.

“I believe it’s just unspoken between everyone that we don’t want to lose again.

“I think every season is very different, but the group we have this year is fantastic.

“The depth of talent and people we have is incredible. We’ve got young girls who can come in and perform amazingly well in whatever role they are put into.”

Due to suspension, Jones watched the semi-final win last Saturday from the boundary.

Her teammates got the job done, with the Adelaide side defeating Fremantle by 14 points, 6.4 (40) to 4.2 (26).

“Yes, I hated watching,” Jones mused.

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“I’m so glad the girls won and they all played so well; it made me proud to watch them all.”

While Jones will return for the Grand Final, first-year ruck Montanna McKinnon has been given a one-match ban for an incident on Preliminary Final.

“I definitely feel for ‘Monty’. It’s an awful situation to be in,” Jones continued.

“But I know the club will do everything in their power to get her to play and for now, unfortunately, we just have to wait now.”

The 2022 AFL Women’s Grand Final has been billed as a “Clash of the Titans”, with both clubs winning nine of the 10 minor round games.

Adelaide, with a huge percentage of 216.6 gained the minor premiership ahead of Melbourne of 186.5.

It is expected to be the final game in Crows colours for the first AFLW superstar Erin Phillips, while Melbourne also has a marquee player with a long and rich history in the code, Daisy Pearce, who will want to exert influence on the result.

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