'Young girls have stood up': Tough Crow praises new faces

ADELAIDE'S preliminary final against Melbourne will be a third finals appearance in five years, but the group has evolved significantly since 2017.  

Just 11 players remain from its 2017 premiership squad of 27, while two-thirds (20) of the 2019 premiership squad make up the current group.

Fierce midfielder Ebony Marinoff started at the Crows in the 2016 pre-season, around the time she turned 18, and has seen the evolution of the club over the past five years. 

DREAM STREAM How to catch every AFLW final

"The young girls have stood up. We picked up Ash Woodland through the SANFL, she had previously played (in defence) at Melbourne and the first couple of rounds she was finding her feet, but I feel she's been a surprise packet for the league because no one really had seen her before," Marinoff said.

"Teah Charlton doesn't get huge numbers, but the impact she's able to have is really awesome for us. I guess it's a credit to our pathways like the SANFL, we have girls coming from Victoria to play in it.

"The (original) girls now have greater flexibility, they've trained in different positions over the past few years. It's a different team, but the way we trained in pre-season has set us up to still be successful. 

"And, obviously, with (Chelsea) Randall and 'Flip' (Erin Phillips) at the helm, they're always driving elite standards. Those experienced girls push that onto the younger girls, and you just create like an environment where you thrive off winning and being the best."

One player who's caught the eye in recent weeks has been pocket rocket Rachelle Martin, who Marinoff describes as a "zip zap" player.

Martin is averaging 10.5 disposals in the midfield, and while she only had six touches last round against the Magpies, she laid an impressive 10 tackles.

"She's another one not many people would know about, but she's shifted into the midfield to allow Chloe Scheer to play more forward. 

"She's so little (153cm), but she's quite smart when she's got ball in hand, and she doesn't have to touch the ball heaps of times, because what she does with it is creative. 

"She's got speed and flair, and no-one can catch her. She can catch them, though, her tackles are ferocious, as are her sister's, Hannah Button.

"We've seen these young girls stepping up, and we've essentially been playing finals since the Western Bulldogs game (in round eight), we needed to win, so you need those players up and going."

The Crows have made the narrow Norwood Oval their fortress over the past few years, and have only played the two games at Saturday's preliminary final location, Adelaide Oval (although they were both winning finals).

REVEALED Grand Final timeslot and potential venues

Marinoff says the shift in location won't faze the Crows, as it’s a similar size to one of their main training grounds in Football Park.

"We actually haven't spoken about the change in ground, despite the fact we play so well at Norwood," she said. 

"Because we're so familiar with [Football Park], we know how to play that, and it's basically the equivalent of Adelaide Oval."

Did you head to the footy over the weekend? Tell us your thoughts! Take the survey now