IT'S BEEN a season of redemption for grand finalists Adelaide and Carlton.
The Crows were the competition pacesetters after winning the 2017 premiership, but struggled last year and finished fifth.
The Blues were also expected to contend last year following a fourth-place finish in 2017. Big-name recruits Tayla Harris (from Brisbane) and Nicola Stevens (Collingwood) joined, but the team crashed badly to finish last.
Both started 2019 with new coaches – Matthew Clarke (Adelaide) and Daniel Harford (Carlton).
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Harford has instilled a spirit of positivity and fun, but the team will have its work cut out at Adelaide Oval.
The Crows are in a dominant vein of form that has not been seen before in the NAB AFLW competition.
Incredibly well-drilled, Adelaide is benefiting from having kept the majority of its team together since the start of the AFLW competition. Moreover, most of the Crows played for the Northern Territory Thunder at VFLW level last winter.
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The Crows' scoring power is extraordinary, with 17 of the 26 players to have taken the field this season kicking at least one goal.
Former Opals basketballer Jess Foley has slotted into the ruck role with ease after the pre-season loss of Rhiannon Metcalfe (left ACL reconstruction) and Jasmyn Hewett (right ankle) and is combining well with the powerhouse midfield of Erin Phillips, Ebony Marinoff and the vastly improved Anne Hatchard.
The Crows are red-hot, having won their last seven games by an average of 40 points. The only loss for the was in round one, by one point to the Western Bulldogs, when they kicked a sloppy 1.11.
By contrast, Carlton has hit its straps after a slow start.
The Blues looked all at sea against North Melbourne in round one, before pushing Adelaide in round two.
In a highly entertaining, free-flowing match, Carlton got out to a 17-point lead in the third term before being overrun by the Crows.
From there on, it was steady improvement for the Blues, who won five of their last six games to finish first in Conference B.
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Skipper Brianna Davey is back to her best after missing most of 2018 following a right knee reconstruction and she has been joined in the midfield by young star Madison Prespakis.
Rugby sevens recruits Chloe Dalton and Brooke Walker have added much-needed speed to the line-up and are particularly dangerous forward of centre.
Saying that, this season has been all about Adelaide and Sunday should be no exception – Crows by 29 points.
THE AFLW GRAND FINAL BY THE NUMBERS
WINS THIS SEASON
MARKS INSIDE 50
*All categories are averages per game
Round 3, 2017: Adelaide 2.5 (17) def. Carlton 2.2 (14)
Round 5, 2018: Adelaide 8.7 (55) def. Carlton 2.8 (20)
Round 2, 2019: Adelaide 9.3 (57) def. Carlton 7.2 (44)