ONE OF the great early rivalries of the NAB AFL Women's competition will resume on Sunday with Adelaide travelling to Hickey Park to play Brisbane – and Lions defender Bree Koenen cannot wait.
Not only is it a rematch of the inaugural Grand Final in 2017 but it gives the 3-0 home team its first genuine test of the season following easy victories over Richmond, Gold Coast and West Coast.
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Koenen, who is enjoying a stellar season in a watertight backline, was a member of that losing decider four years ago and said she loved playing the Crows.
"It's one of my favourite match-ups," Koenen told womens.afl.
"They're going to be tough. They've come off a pretty significant loss against a good Freo side, so they'll be pretty hungry next week.
"It's always going to be a close contest with them, they're such a good team."
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After missing out on being the inaugural premiers, the Lions have won both matches since against the Crows – one at Norwood in 2018 and the other in Brisbane last year.
Koenen said she had particularly fond memories of the win in Adelaide, turning around a half-time deficit in which the Lions were booed off the ground by a vociferous local crowd.
Sunday's contest shapes as a stern test for the Lions, who have comfortably disposed of the three newest clubs to start their campaign.
"It's a great measuring stick at this stage of the year," coach Craig Starcevich said.
"You've got some confidence there from having some good wins, but you've now got some really good [premiership] contention-type teams you've got to match yourself up with.
"If you want to be the best, you've got to beat the best."
Koenen is enjoying arguably the best stretch of her career, looking assured and confident with her 13 disposals a game, and along with Kate Lutkins anchoring a defence conceding an average of a paltry 11 points.
She was thrown onball against the Eagles after a flat opening quarter from Brisbane's usually reliable midfielders and was able to have an impact there.
Koenen said the improved flexibility in the Lions' list was playing a big role in their early success.
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"The experience we have really complements the talent we have coming through," she said.
"Some of the girls we have coming through are real excitement machines and work incredibly hard, so I think we've just got a good group willing to put in the hard yards and it's paying off in-season.
"It's just a different vibe this year. We're really trusting in each other. It's really comforting having the people we have around you. It definitely makes me feel more confident."
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