Murder of Crows: Adelaide’s pressure sinks Suns
IN a season where there are four distinct contenders – with perhaps one or two dark horses – the gap between second and fifth was telling on the weekend. Adelaide, a side never too far away from success and in fact the most successful team in AFL Women’s history, put Gold Coast to the sword and won by 32 points at Unley Oval on Sunday.
The Crows did not need flashy brilliance or a keepings off style. Instead, Adelaide won off the back of forward half pressure, with intercepts leading to scores. In just 23 minutes, Adelaide had piled on five goals to nil, and lead by 29 points to effectively shut the door on the game. The Suns, as improved as they are, could not quell the rampaging home side.
Both teams kicked two goals apiece after the 23-minute mark, which is credit to the Suns’ determination to fight to the bitter end, with wins over Collingwood and Western Bulldogs, and a crushing 73-point destruction of West Coast all adding to their momentum. They have a tough fortnight coming up against Richmond and Brisbane, before playing Port Adelaide, GWS GIANTS and Essendon, all winnable matches.
However in order to improve, the Suns have to look at what one of the benchmark teams of the competition did well on the weekend, and that was forward half pressure.
- Adelaide had eight forward half intercepts from which three directly resulted in goals
It was a pretty impressive statistic. The Crows are more than capable of putting up a score including from stoppage or the defensive half, but the pressure inside 50 was forcing the Suns to make mistakes, and the Crows were capitalising off those turnovers.
- Charlie needs support
The reason the Crows were not able to get easy access to the ball around the stoppage was largely due to Suns gun Charlie Rowbottom who racked up 11 disposals and eight contested possessions in the first term, as well as her side’s only two contested marks.
- Suns struggle to turn defence into offence
The game was unsurprisingly played in Adelaide’s forward half for the opening term, with the Suns only entering their forward 50 on a handful of occasions. They took more than five minutes to register an effective kick, and could only score one behind as the Crows stopped any of the Suns’ 21 defensive half ball movement chains into scores.
Murder of Crows:
D = Disposals | DE% = Disposal Efficiency | M = Marks | T = Tackles | IP = Intercept Possessions | SI = Score Involvements
Adelaide’s defensive half interceptors are among the best going around. As the table above shows, the Crows had seven players record four or more intercept possessions, and all ran at 64 per cent or above disposal efficiency. Importantly, the seven players had multiple marks, and if they were not marking it, they were providing ground level pressure.
Player Focus: Teah Charlton
Given star ball-winner Ebony Marinoff had her hands full on the day, it was up to Charlton and fellow onballer Anne Hatchard to get their hands dirty and win the ball. Marinoff still brought her defensive pressure with 13 tackles, with Charlton (14) and Hatchard (10) also hitting double-figures. For the three key midfielders to lay a combined 37 tackles is something special.
Charlton also had a couple of score involvements to go with her 14 disposals, two marks and two clearances. Critically, her six intercept possessions was the most of any midfielder on the ground. The ability to intercept and provide pressure from up the ground is nothing new for Charlton who is enjoying an underrated season.
KEY STATS – SEASON: (averages in brackets)
T = Tackles | TI50 = Tackles inside 50 | PA = Pressure Acts | DHPA = Defensive Half Pressure Acts | FHPA = Forward Half Pressure Acts
On face value, Charlton’s stats might go underrated. She is not a 30-disposal ball-winner like a Hatchard or Marinoff, and she is not necessarily a player who will have a stack of inside 50s or even shots at goal. In fact, Charlton has only had four shots on goal for 3.1. But when it comes to pressure, there are few better across the ground and particularly in the forward half.
Charlton is ranked 10th in the competition for pressure acts this season, and third for forward half pressure acts. Only Sydney’s Laura Gardiner (79) and North Melbourne’s Mia King (73) have more. Charlton is also ranked equal third for tackles inside 50, and equal seventh for tackles in general. Yet outside the four walls of the Crows, Charlton’s influence is not spoken about enough.
Looking ahead, the Crows have a top of the table clash against Melbourne this weekend. But while the focus might be on the likes of Marinoff and Hatchard – for good reason – Charlton is quietly going about her season in a big way, and if clubs let her fly under the radar, she will punish them with forward half pressure resulting in turnovers and eventual scores.