The work of Brisbane Lions’ defender Corporal Kate Lutkins earned her the best-on-ground award in the AFL Women's League grand final on April 17.
Brisbane’s defensive line was the deciding factor in their 18-point win over the Adelaide Crows, leaving Adelaide goal-less for almost two quarters of the heated match.
Corporal Lutkins had 18 disposals, six marks and two tackles during the game, despite nursing a foot injury sustained in round eight.
“I’m just lucky to have all my teammates in the back line and the entire playing squad,” she said.
“Each of them gets out there on the field each week looking to make their teammates great.”
The team arrived in Adelaide two days before the final, something Corporal Lutkins said gave them the time to lock in and embrace the opportunity of a special start to the season’s finale.
“As much as we love home grand finals, from the moment we landed in Adelaide, it just brought the team close together,” she said.
“It’s finals footy, so the game was always going to be quick and intense.
“With the fitness and conditioning we have behind us, we knew we were a fourth-quarter team, so we’d be in the arm wrestle, but no matter what, we’d be able to run out the game in all four quarters.”
The Lions played the Crows in round three in Brisbane, but just lost that game.
But that loss served as a good opportunity for the Lions to analyse their opponent’s tactics and learn areas to exploit, according to Corporal Lutkins.
She said it didn’t feel like they had won the game until she turned to the Lions’ conditioning coach with 30 seconds to go and asked how long was left.
“That was about the only moment because they were just relentless all day. They had double our inside-50 entries with only three goals, so that’s a pretty amazing stat,” Corporal Lutkins said.
“This win was as much for the players as for the club, coaches and support staff who do so much behind the scenes to get us out there each and every week.”
Although teammate Craftsman Rheanne Lugg was sitting in emergency after nursing a rib injury throughout the season, the ex-Crows player said she was barracking for her new side the whole way.
“It was just phenomenal to see that many – I think there was over 20,000 people – there to watch the game,” she said.
“The team put in a massive effort over this season and definitely deserved to be in the grand final.
“Not many people can say they’ve played in a grand final, let alone won one. I’m just so stoked for our team, grinding away all season to be finally rewarded at the end.
“I feel super grateful to be surrounded by this group.”