Lions send message with upset of Crows

Orla O'Dwyer celebrates a goal with teammates during the Lions' Round 1 clash against the Crows. Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images

A record-breaking effort by Anne Hatchard has failed to stop Adelaide suffering a horror start to their AFLW title defence, going down by 13 points to a new-look Brisbane Lions.

Midfielder Hatchard racked up a remarkable 34 touches on Saturday at Hickey Park in Brisbane but it was not enough as the Lions won 5.4 (34) to 3.3 (21), revelling in wet conditions to send a message to the rest of the league.

Hatchard nabbed the record for most touches in an AFLW clash, eclipsing Crows teammate Ebony Marinoff's 33 disposal effort last season.

However, somehow it could not inspire an injury-hit Adelaide on Saturday.

The Crows arrived in Queensland with just 21 fit players after experienced defender Courtney Cramey (groin) and midfielder Sophie Li (concussion) were added to a lengthy injury list, topped by co-captain Erin Phillips and Rhiannon Metcalfe (both knee).

Yet Adelaide were still considered runaway favourites for their season opener against a depleted Lions after setting the AFLW benchmark.

In the AFLW's first three seasons, the Crows had dominated by claiming two flags including a 45-point romp in the 2019 grand final over Carlton.

However, they had no answer in greasy conditions to a Lions outfit who dug deep after losing 16 players over two years to other teams as the AFLW expanded.

Arguably the biggest blow was star forward Sabrina Frederick who left for new AFLW outfit Richmond in the off-season, as the Lions also lost seven players to fellow 2020 debutants Gold Coast.

Brisbane made the most of difficult conditions to jump to a first-quarter lead of 2.2 (14) to 0.0 (0) before going into halftime at to 3.3 (21) to 1.2 (8).

The Lions held their opposition scoreless in the third term to set up what seemed a match-winning 5.3 (33) to 1.2 (8) lead at the final break.

But goals to Nikki Gore and Jessica Foley to the visitors kept them in the contest, before the Lions held on for a gusty victory in front of a 3002-strong crowd.

For Brisbane, Lauren Arnell booted two goals while Alexandra Anderson had 16 touches.

Besides Hatchard, the woman from whom she snatched the record, Marinoff was also impressive with 19 disposals.