Sunday, December 5, 2021

Lions return to warm welcome in Brisbane after stunning AFLW grand final win

The Lions’ AFLW squad returned home to a warm welcome in Brisbane on Sunday, still basking in the glory of their stunning grand final win over the Adelaide Crows.

The club secured its first AFLW premiership on Saturday with the 18-point victory over the minor premiers at Adelaide Oval.

It was third time lucky for the Lions, who had lost the 2017 and 2018 grand finals.

The players and coaching staff were greeted at Brisbane Airport by friends, family and supporters.

Dakota Davidson’s grandmother, Beryl Sempf, had travelled to Adelaide for the season decider.

The 92-year-old said she enjoyed every moment.

“I loved it, the noise was great,” she said.

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“Great team … all wonderful girls.”

But Ms Sempf saved her biggest praise for her granddaughter.

“[I’m] extremely proud, she’s wonderful,” she said.

Davidson said the victory would be one for the memory books.

“I’m so glad nana was there to experience it,” she said.

“I don’t know when she’ll get another [opportunity], so I’m truly grateful. It’s very humbling.”

Kate Lutkins, who was named best on ground, said the team enjoyed celebrating the win with family and friends.

“I had a good couple of hours sleep, the head’s great … ready to go again,” she said.

“The culture and bond that this group has is beyond anything I’ve ever experienced in my life, so it’s really special.”

Lutkins went into the grand final carrying a foot injury and will have surgery in the next few weeks.

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“I partially tore my plantar fascia in round eight … so I’m looking forward to getting it better finally,” she said.

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“I’ll have rehab and come back stronger next season.”

Lions coach Craig Starcevich described Saturday’s performance as “complete”.

“Matches are hard to come by where you’ve got everything going the way you want it to go, which is the combination of pressuring the opposition and scoring yourself,” he said.

The Lions will have to do without captain Emma Zielke during their premiership defence next season after she announced she was retiring.

Starcevich said Zielke’s replacement was likely to come from within the club’s current ranks.

“The depth of our leadership group’s phenomenal so [there’s] no problem there in terms of finding a replacement, but that’s six months away,” he said.

The Lions are likely to be awarded the Key to the City honour, but it is yet to be decided whether there will be a celebratory parade.

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