Jamie Kloeden reporting for AFANA from AAMI Stadium, Australia
Adelaide was abuzz all week as the hometown Crows returned to the Finals. 2011 was a season to forget so with a young, exciting team that sat second on the ladder at the completion of the minor round, Crows' fans around town saw a chance for some genuine success. The Swans were heading to Adelaide having spent most of the latter part of the season sitting in top spot but a drop down to third gave them the tough task of starting their Finals campaign on the road.
Jarrad McVeigh won the toss for Sydney and chose to kick with the wind in the first quarter but it wasn’t until the eight minute mark that they first took advantage of it. McVeigh’s co-captain Adam Goodes took possession of the ball in the middle of the ground, took a bounce and kicked a running goal ahead of a chasing Taylor Walker and the scoring was underway. Walker got his own back with a mark and goal three minutes later to tie the score. The game was developing into an arm wrestle and it looked as though neither team was going to be able to make a break and take control of the game. Goodes was the star of the quarter running around and making a huge impact on the game and when the dual Brownlow Medalist took another mark directly in front of goal and kicked the second goal for the Swans, it looked as though they were starting to get the run of play. This didn’t happen however as the defensive focus of the Swans stifled the Crows and their fast paced style of game and appeared to take their focus away from scoring goals themselves. Quarter time came about with only three goals having been scored, handing Sydney a five point lead at the first break.
Second quarter action got underway and what followed had the previously enthusiastic and jovial Adelaide crowd silenced with the Swans taking complete charge of the game. When Goodes set up yet another foray forward and Lewis Jetta snapped truly just before the 20 minute mark of the quarter, Sydney had suddenly kicked four unanswered goals and the game was quickly slipping out of the Crows reach. Brodie Smith was able to get the ball to his skipper Nathan van Berlo to peg one back for the home side but a solitary goal from five scoring shots showed the Crows were not reacting well to the added pressure of Finals football. In contrast the Swans had the same number of scoring shots but were able to convert all five shots into goals. When Goodes kicked his third for the half the margin went out to 25 points, and in a low scoring game it looked as if they were on their way to a week off before hosting a home Preliminary Final.
The two veterans Ryan O’Keefe and Goodes were unstoppable for Sydney in the first half showing exactly why they have been so successful over the illustrious careers. Goodes was an almost impossible match up for Brenton Sanderson to try and curb while O’Keefe was a ball magnet and looked to be on his way to a 40 possession game. Shane Mumford and Canadian Rugby convert Mike Pyke were taking charge in the ruck contests against Sam Jacobs, and while Taylor Walker looked dangerous at times in the Adelaide forward line, his partner in crime Kurt Tippett was struggling to take a mark and have any impact on the game.
Coach John Longmire led his charges with an unflappable game plan and a low scoring third quarter played into Sydney’s hands perfectly as once again their defensive pressure was too much for the Crows and only one more goal per team was scored by each team before three quarter time. The Crows' faithful were certainly fearing the worst and with just three goals from 11 scoring shots it was looking like their inaccuracy in front of goals could be their undoing. The only real negative for Sydney was the departure of livewire Ben McGlynn who was substituted after injuring his hamstring during the quarter. It is now a waiting game for McGlynn to see if he will be able to take any further part in the Swans Finals campaign.
Graham Johncock kicked a goal one minute into the final quarter to get the margin back to 18 points and the crowd back up on their feet but unfortunately for Adelaide fans, that would be as close as their boys would get. Luke Parker replied with a goal for Sydney before Ian Callinan got his first for the day to again get the deficit back to 18. That was it for the Crows however and two of the Swans' best players for the day in Lewis Jetta and Josh Kennedy, each kicked a goal to put the icing on the cake. It was a great day for Longmire and his team who were able to defeat the Crows for the just the third time in their last 15 contests. To make matters even worse, the Crows lost Rising Star Award winner Daniel Talia to a broken arm which will severely test their defensive depth for the rest of their Finals' campaign.
This result now sees Sydney with the week off and looking forward to a home Final in two weeks time. The Crows have seven days to regroup and return to AAMI Stadium to face the in form, Matthew Pavlich led Fremantle side that pushed aside the reigning Premiers Geelong in the first Elimination Final. The winner of this game will go on to meet Premiership favorites Hawthorn in a Preliminary Final.
Scoreboard Adelaide: 1.3 2.7 3.10 5.12 (42) Sydney: 2.2 7.2 8.4 11.5 (71) Best players Adelaide: Thompson, Mackay, Sloane, Doughty, Reilly Sydney: O'Keefe, Goodes, Kennedy, Shaw, Jetta, Richards
Article last changed on Monday, September 17, 2012 - 9:40 AM EDT