1. Brisbane's backline is the bedrock of their first flag
The Lions have had a solid defensive core effectively since 2017, with minimal changes over that time. They were outstanding against Adelaide, positioning well and cutting off numerous forward-50 entries. The heroics of general Kate Lutkins – awarded the best-on-ground medal – have been well-sung over the past few years, but Breanna Koenen, Shannon Campbell, Nat Grider and Emma Zielke were simply outstanding. Adelaide recorded an astonishing 44 inside 50s, 20 more than the Lions, but the pressure of the visitors was astonishing.
2. Courtney Hodder is made for the big stage
A proven star at the under-18 level, it’s taken Lions forward Courtney Hodder a few years to get to the top level, via rugby and a badly broken leg. After being held to just one touch last week by Alana Porter, Hodder wasn’t going to be quiet in another big game, kicking two incredible first-half goals to continue to pile the pressure on Adelaide. Her tackle pressure was also key to the Lions’ win, locking the ball inside 50 in the few opportunities they had.
3. There’s an injury captains curse affecting AFLW Grand Finals
Two years after then-Adelaide skipper Erin Phillips ruptured her ACL during the 2019 AFLW Grand Final, not one, but two captains went down within minutes of each other. Ange Foley – who was already standing in for Chelsea Randall – appeared to potentially rupture her ACL after landing awkwardly when attempting a contested mark. Almost in the same breath, Lions skipper Emma Zielke limped to the bench, having suffered a right hamstring injury.
4. Rattle Adelaide early, and the Crows struggle to recover
In Adelaide’s two losses in the home-and-away season, it’s taken tackle pressure – both early and sustained – plus scoreboard conversion to get the win. The Crows were headed early by both Fremantle and Melbourne, and while Brisbane pulled away in the third term, it was clear the hosts were rattled. Eloise Jones provided a flicker of life at the start of the fourth quarter, her goal after a 50m penalty cutting the margin to 16 points. But the gap proved too hard to bridge.
2021 AFLW GRAND FINAL Full match coverage and stats
5. Erin Phillips is human after all
We’ve come to (perhaps unfairly) expect superhuman performances from Erin Phillips, who brought two best-on-ground medals into this Grand Final. But the 35-year-old champion came into the game a bit sore and struggled to be at her very best. Playing primarily forward but attending centre bounces – as she has this year – Phillips was well and truly held by Breanna Koenen, who claimed another scalp after blanketing Chloe Molloy last week. Phillipes finished with three clearances, but only eight disposals overall and just one behind, well down on her usual output.