Phillips leads Crows to AFLW victory

Adelaide Crows captain Erin Phillips proved the difference on her return to the AFLW, inspiring her team to their first win of the season.

After trailing for most of the game against the Western Bulldogs, a point late in the fourth put the Crows ahead and a goal after the siren from Jenna McCormick secured their 6.5 (41) to 5.4 (34) victory.

Phillips starred for the Crows as she made up for lost time, after missing the first two games of the campaign with a quad strain.

The reigning league best and fairest finished with four goals and, despite the tight tag of Libby Birch, looked dominant throughout in front of a crowd of 4,900 at Norwood Oval.

Crows coach Bec Goddard said Phillips put in a "mighty performance" but characteristically shifted the focus to the efforts of the team.

"Everybody came up around Erin. Once she starts playing well, everyone comes up around her," she said.

"She contributed in a big way individually, but the team also had a really great performance".

The hosts got off to a slow start against the ball-hungry Bulldogs, who finished the first and second quarters leading by six points.

Adelaide's Dayna Cox was reported late in the first quarter for high contact to Ellie Blackburn, and the momentum looked to be with the Bulldogs for most of the first half.

Captain Katie Brennan kicked two goals - one of four players to record majors for the visitors - before coming off late in the game with an ankle injury.

Emma Kearney, Blackburn and Monique Conti were strong contributors to the Bulldogs attack.

Coach Paul Groves said he was proud of the performance of his players against their strong opponents.

"(The Crows) are a quality team, so we were pretty happy we had the momentum early over them but then one Erin Phillips steps into the middle and does what she does," he said.

"If that's her at 65-70 per cent on her quad then God help everyone."

The Crows will travel to Sydney to take on the Giants next week, while the Bulldogs will take on the unbeaten Carlton in Melbourne.

Goddard said Saturday's win will have an effect on the team's morale.

"You can start talking a lot more positively around the football club," she said.

"We've been talking positively, that's how we do our reviews... but when there's been a mountain of areas for improvement, it's hard to ignore sometimes.

"Today we did so many things right."