AFLW Grand Final Insight: The 'balance of power' mids, a gun you can't ignore

THE MIDFIELD battle is set to be a defining factor of Saturday's NAB AFLW Grand Final between Adelaide and Brisbane.

Both sides rarely rotate their centre bounce attendees, making it easy to identify which players hold the balance of power.

 Centre Bounce Attendances

Adelaide

Brisbane

Player

2021 CBA

Player

2021 CBA

Ebony Marinoff

121

Cathy Svarc

104

Anne Hatchard 

103

Tahlia Hickie (ruck)

89

Rhiannon Metcalfe (ruck)

88

Emily Bates

81

Erin Phillips

81

Ally Anderson

71

Caitlin Gould (ruck)

45

Isabel Dawes

71

Chloe Scheer

36

Taylor Smith (ruck)

36

Hannah Button

20

Greta Bodey

17

 Stats: Champion Data

Adelaide has a clear top three, and it's a powerful, decorated combination: Ebony Marinoff, Anne Hatchard and Erin Phillips.

Chloe Scheer and Hannah Button are the relieving rotations when needed, with Button's younger sister Rachelle Martin also filling that role in the past few weeks.

For the Lions, Cathy Svarc's incredible endurance sees her comfortably occupying top spot, 23 ahead of the nearest midfielder in Emily Bates.

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Ally Anderson and Belle Dawes are the third and fourth rotations – and the chances of seeing a fifth different player through is slim to none, with Greta Bodey having only attended 17 centre bounces this year.

But attending centre bounces is one thing, winning clearances is another.

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Who are the players each side will be looking to lock down on?

 Total clearances 2021

Adelaide

Brisbane

Player

Clearances

Player

Clearances

Ebony Marinoff

46

Ally Anderson

28

Erin Phillips 

29

Emily Bates

25

Anne Hatchard

24

Isabel Dawes

22

Rhiannon Metcalfe

21

Cathy Svarc

20

Eloise Jones

11

Tahlia Hickie

17

Chloe Scheer

10

Orla O'Dwyer

14

Hannah Button

10

Lauren Arnell

14

 

One player immediately jumps out when looking at these numbers: Crows' ball-winner Marinoff.

Notably, Svarc's high centre-bounce attendance numbers don't translate to clearances, given her primary role is usually a defensive one.

Logically, it makes sense the Lion will line up on Marinoff, given her successful record against a similar player in Brianna Davey.

Ally Anderson led the way for Brisbane in last week's preliminary final triumph, but the Crows are less likely than the Lions to perform a shut-down role through the midfield, instead backing their own engine room to do the job.

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Eloise Jones and Orla O'Dwyer's influence on their respective wings shouldn't be discounted, while rucks Rhiannon Metcalfe and Tahlia Hickie are both capable of getting involved at ground level.

And coming into a Grand Final, never ignore Erin Phillips.

While she is playing a slightly different role this year, generally attending centre bounces and pushing forward, the Lions know just how dangerous she can be regardless of where the superstar lines up.

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