Clarke’s Crows crack Bombers’ code

ADELAIDE Crows were able to breakthrough enormous Bomber resistance to post a comprehensive 47-point win in Round 3 of the AFL Women’s at Unley Oval yesterday. The Crows had one more scoring shot than the Bombers in the first half, but still trailed by four points, before putting the foot down and sending a message to the rest of the competition.

Both sides entered the match undefeated from the first two rounds, and Essendon showed it was up for the fight early, creating a contested game that was stifling the Crows’ run. After quarter time however, Adelaide was able to break the shackles – off the back of another star performance from Danielle Ponter – to win, 12.9 (81) to 5.4 (34).

Clarke said he respected the Bombers who had plenty of talent of their list, and was pleased to keep them to five goals. Though he conceded “one or two late” he would have liked to have stopped, overall he was “really happy”. He praised his forwardline and the way it was able to boot 12 goals in the win.

“I thought they worked really hard,” Clarke said. “We probably didn’t give them best advantage at times. Just our final kick into our forwards today was a little bit off. We scored a reasonable percentage of the time we went in, but we probably made it a little bit harder for our forwards.”

The star of the show was Ponter, who slammed home three goals to bring up her 50th career goal, drawing praise from her coach.

“Fifty goals is a great achievement in the fairly abbreviated seasons and she’s been fairly unbelievable for us particularly in big games,” Clarke said. “She’s stood up many, many times and we’ve very grateful and thankful to have her on our list.”

As for whether or not Ponter develops into a more permanent midfielder or remains as that dangerous forward, is a conundrum Clarke is always weighing up.

“Each season she’s worked really hard to get her fitness up to the level where she can spend some time through the midfield,” Clarke said. “Obviously very clean, silky skills, we love having her around the ball, but she’s also pretty dangerous up forward, so we don’t want to rob Peter to pay Paul.”

Another conundrum for Clarke is the ruck battle internally, with Jess Allan having another strong game, totalling up 29 hitouts to go with her nine disposals, three marks and three tackles, allowing fellow ruck Caitlin Gould to spend more time forward. Meanwhile, developing ruck Montana McKinnon had an equally eye-catching game in the reserves match between the sides.

“It’s a really tricky one. I’ve obviously coached rucks in the AFL competition as well,” Clarke said. Montana played a really strong game again in the development game this morning, so we’ll have to keep assessing what the best mix is there because both of them probably warrant selection, but often the balance of the team suggests only one ruck is sometimes necessary. We’ll keep looking at it, it’s a tough call.”

The only injury concern to come out of the win was “back spasms” to Stevie-Lee Thompson with the club set to wait until the injury calmed down to assess it. Also asked about Sarah Allan who remains on the long-term injury list – but not inactive – Clarke said there was no update to a timeframe, but credited those in the backline for holding firm in her absence.

“We’ve had to manage without Sarah throughout the whole preseason,” Clarke said. “Clearly she’s such an outstanding player for us and an outstanding leader of the group. Really happy with how they’re going on, we’re not perfect by any stretch. We’re seeing lots of development.

“I thought Sarah Goodwin today was really strong, I thought it was her best game for us in terms of her defensive pressure but also clean, took the ball and is starting to add some offence as well. That was a nice step forward, but just the way they’re holding up is really good. It’s going to be a while, so we have to make the best of what we’ve got.”

In Round 4, Adelaide heads to the nation’s capital next Saturday, September 23 to tackle the GWS GIANTS at Manuka Oval from 11:05am AEST.

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