‘Exceptional’: Crows AFLW coach praises star midfielder after finals-record disposals tally in semi smashing

Adelaide coach Matthew Clarke says there’s one thing that separates his “exceptional” midfield star Anne Hatchard from the rest.

Hatchard has won three premierships with the Crows and was best afield in one of them.

But never has an AFLW player produced such a statistically dominant performance in a final than Hatchard’s Saturday night feats against Sydney.

The 25-year-old collected 36 disposals – a record individual tally in the AFLW finals – in Adelaide’s 67-point trouncing of Sydney.

Her haul, which bettered teammate Ebony Marinoff’s 35 touches in a 2021 preliminary final, included 18 contested possessions, two goals, five inside 50s and six tackles.

But Clarke said another of Hatchard’s stats – her game-high 10 marks – highlights the difference between his 175cm-tall on-baller and others.

“She was exceptional,” Clarke said, after the Crows’ 12.10 (82) to 2.3 (15) win.

“Probably the thing which sets her apart from a lot of midfielders is her aerial capacity.

Jess Allan is having a cracking night!

She sets the table for Hatchard with a clever tap, the Crows are really rolling now. #AFLWFinals pic.twitter.com/8su8xMM8s3

— 7AFL (@7AFL) November 18, 2023

“Obviously she has elite work-rate and gets up and down the ground.

“But when the ball goes into an aerial contest, she wins more than she doesn’t. She doesn’t even get the ball halved, she clunks them.”

Hatchard helped Adelaide advance to an away preliminary final against North Melbourne next weekend.

The last time they met the Roos, on October 29 at Adelaide’s Norwood Oval, Clarke’s Crows escaped with a three-point win.

“They (North) owned almost every statistical category that day,” Clarke said.

“And yet we were good enough to find a way to win.

“We got beaten a lot of areas. We’ll have to improve on that performance.”

The Kangaroos booked their preliminary final berth with a 41-point thumping of reigning premiers Melbourne in a qualifying final last weekend.

“Their game last week was probably the performance of the year … they’re in pretty good nick,” Clarke said of the Roos.

“But equally, we’ve got some quality out there and we’re coming together hopefully at the right time.”


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