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Match of the Day: Crows turn up the heat and turn the tables on Cats

Richard Douglas shows Geelong’s Mitch Duncan a clean pair of heels as he kicks his fourth goal of the night in Adelaide’s 21-point win. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Crows turn up the heat and turn the tables on Cats

Adelaide had trailed on the scoreboard and been well and truly out-muscled in the clinches from the get-go in its first clash with Geelong this season at Simonds Stadium.

That reaffirmed for a considerable army of sceptics that the Crows lacked sufficient fibre to do some serious damage this September. And it’s a perception which has lingered, really, ever since.

That made this Friday night return bout at Adelaide Oval perhaps even more important than most clashes between the two top teams on the ladder.

Lose again, at home, to an opponent they hadn’t beaten now for four years, and the Crows could stay at the peak of the AFL table for the rest of this season and still leave a healthy proportion of the football world unconvinced.

Perhaps Adelaide felt it, too. Because from the outset this time, it looked like the Crows were intent on making a statement. And it was a pretty emphatic one.

Josh Jenkins set the tone with his snap after just 25 seconds of play, Adelaide significantly forcing rather than finessing the ball forward.

The stars then went tit-for-tat. Patrick Dangerfield cashed in on the spills of a strong tackle from teammate James Parsons. But barely a minute later, Rory Sloane made his own personal statement in a crunching tackle on Tom Stewart, promptly converting the free kick from the 50.

That would be the first of five unanswered goals for Adelaide. Richard Douglas got the first couple, snapping truly after more Crow pressure and chain of lightning handballs and repeating the dose after a strong mark in front of the much bigger Tom Lonergan.

The inventive Hugh Greenwood volleyed one home from 25 metres out, suggesting more of a soccer than a basketball background. And by the time Douglas had his third just four minutes into the second term, the gap had grown to 29 points and Geelong was in all sorts.

What was equally significant by then was the way the Crows were holding their own around the ball, up by 10 on the Cats for contested possession.
Dangerfield was getting his requisite touches, but despite again spending plenty of time close to goal, his presence there didn’t have nearly the shock value of last week’s feats against Hawthorn.

Joel Selwood, meanwhile, closely guarded by Riley Knight, struggled to have real influence as well.

He’d had only two touches shortly before quarter time. It was Mark Blicavs who at least hit the scoreboard for the Cats, threading their second goal from right on the boundary line, another free kick to Tom Hawkins bringing the margin back inside three goals.

But that proved a momentary lull in Adelaide’s momentum rather than a turning of the tide as such.

Sloane might have been kept relatively quiet by Scott Selwood at Simonds Stadium, but the Crows’ star played him on a break here, and coped just as well with the attentions of Mark Blicavs.
And he provided another exclamation mark on this game from the next centre bounce following Hawkins’ goal. Charlie Cameron weighed in with another then set up Taylor Walker, and it was six goals the difference.

By half-time, Sloane had 16 disposals, two goals and ton of grunt work. But that was only reflective of his team, the Crows going to the long break having smashed the Cats for stoppage wins, and ahead for contested ball.

That in itself was significant given that by half-time of the round 11 clash Geelong had already racked up a massive edge of 25 on the contested possession count.
The Cats were becoming increasingly desperate. They tried on some of the rough stuff, Scott Selwood attempting to get under Sloane’s skin, Harry Taylor nearly taking his head off in a high tackle.

This time, Sloane just shrugged it off. And this time, he had some decent support. From both Crouches, who these days seem to conduct a weekly brotherly bragging rights competition. From Douglas, who had four goals on the board by the final change. From Greenwood, and Rory Atkins. And at the source, or “Sauce”, Sam Jacobs terrific in the ruck.

And each time Geelong made some sort of start on a comeback, Adelaide nipped it in the bud. The Cats tried everything. Daniel Menzel, barely sighted in the first half, took a strong grab and goalled. Taylor, thrown forward, kicked a couple.

But the Crows’ responses were swift. From Sloane, again. Tom Lynch, after a costly fumble at the other end from Geelong’s Rhys Stanley. And Douglas.

They’d worked their butts off for three quarters. Which made Adelaide’s goalless final term understandable.

Taylor proved a real thorn in the side in that final stanza with another three goals. Five in a half from limited opportunities was a pretty handy effort. But it never really looked like Geelong was mounting a serious final-term comeback.

Adelaide had held firm enough at the back. Found enough scoring sources up forward. And a midfield that continues to be underestimated clearly won the most important battle.
Perhaps this was a night, also, when the Crows won an even bigger battle. For respect.

ADELAIDE 5.2 9.5 13.9 13.13 (91)
GEELONG 1.4 4.6 7.8 10.10 (70)

Goals – ADELAIDE: Douglas 4, Sloane 3, Jenkins, Cameron, Walker, Greenwood, Lynch, Brown. GEELONG: Taylor 5, Hawkins, Blicavs, Dangerfield, Menzel, Duncan.
Best – ADELAIDE: Sloane, Douglas, M. Crouch, B. Crouch, Greenwood, Jacobs, Knight, Laird. GEELONG: Taylor, Bews, Dangerfield, Selwood, Duncan, Blicavs.

  1. The more i look at the cats the more i am impressed with Scott’s coaching. Remove the pair of aces and the list looks thin…sure Taylor is quality but i don’t see much else. Motlop does a good impersonation of Tomic as in not giving a stuff. For a man of his size and bulk, Hawkins rarely intimidates the opposition. Essentially they are gifted 16 to 20 premiership points each year due to their provincial home ground advantage. Come September if they play a full strength GWS or if they play Crows or Power in Adelaide it could get ugly.

  2. Good onya Connolly…fierce analysis, big heart, fine skills. We await the novel with the patience of a poet.

  3. Greenwoods soccer skills happened throughout the game. And the commentators didn’t make a big deal out of his goal. It was amazing.

  4. Mate, it was a fluke, looked good, very spectacular, but a fluke.

  5. I can’t wait for these two sides to meet again (on neutral ground) in September. With one a piece at their respective home grounds – I’m not sure either holds an advantage over the other.
    Could a fully fit Dangerwood be the difference? I certainly hope so..

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