After two long weeks of matches, Round 18 was finally coming to a close as Collingwood hosted Adelaide in an immensely important Sunday game. Following the Gold Coast Suns' thrashing by crosstown rivals Brisbane, a win for Adelaide would see them enter the Top Eight for the first time this year, leapfrogging both the Suns and their opponents Collingwood. On the flip side, a Collingwood win would have them sitting two games clear of the Crows and a strong chance for Finals' action.
Out of the blocks it was Collingwood registering the first two goals through Jesse White and their captain Scott Pendlebury. Sandwiched between these goals were four straight points to the Crows who - in spite of their inaccuracy - were looking dangerous. Eddie Betts found the target twice in succession to get the goal scoring underway for Adelaide. Betts looked ready to tear the game apart but missed a chance to get his third in ten minutes, letting the Magpies off the hook. White was proving to be a menace for the Crows defenders as he marked and goaled to keep things close but the ever improving Brodie Martin and Richard Douglas, celebrating his 150th game, kicked impressive goals to send the Crows to the quarter time break with a 17 point lead.
A hard and tough Collingwood side was there to play in the second quarter as they applied a lot of pressure to the Crows. The Magpieswere unable to make an impact on the scoreboard and when Brodie Smith took a mark and received a 50 meter penalty for a late bump from Clinton Young, all of their good early work had gone to waste. Both sides squandered their many opportunities for the rest of the quarter and the margin at half time was 16 points in favour of the visitors.
Smith was having an outstanding game for Adelaide, continuing his transition from fringe Crows' player to a candidate for All Australian selection. Betts was always dangerous up forward as were the big forwards Taylor Walker and James Podsiadly who was working tirelessly all over the ground. For Collingwood, Heritier Lumumba was providing great rebound off half back and Dayne Beams and Steele Sidebottom were getting plenty of the ball but one of the great battles was still developing as the game went on. Travis Cloke and Daniel Talia were having a terrific tussle, reminiscent of the titanic 1990's clashes between Wayne Carey and Glen Jakovich, with both players having their moments but neither dominating the other at any stage.
After the main break Collingwood hit the ground running but once again wasted their opportunities. Beams was getting a lot of the ball and giving his forwards chances but the only goal kicked in the first 15 minutes of the half was by Taylor Walker to extend the Crows lead. A couple of back to back goals through Jarrod Witts and Cloke gave the Magpies some hope but Adelaide had a chance to push the margin out a bit more when Podsiadly marked close to goal. The result was interesting however. Rather than simply kicking straight through the ball in the traditional style, he tried an "around the corner" style of kicking. His horrendous execution saw the ball sail out of bounds on the full as coach Brenton Sanderson looked on in disbelief. Luckily for “J-Pod”, Smith popped up again and drilled home a long goal less than a minute later to restore order and keep the momentum of the game from swinging well and truly in the Magpies' favor. They did manage one more goal through Beams but it was the last six minutes of the quarter that had the potential to decide the game. Adelaide registered five more scores during this period but unfortunately for them, each one was a behind so rather than putting the game out of Collingwood’s reach the Crows took only an 11 point lead into the final break.
Missed chances by the Crows were looking more crucial by the minute as early last quarter goals to Cloke and Beams put the Magpies back in front for the first time since early in the first quarter. Tom Lynch dropped what appeared to be an easy mark right in front of goals for Adelaide and when Collingwood got it back down the other end Cloke once again showed his power and class to score another goal. The game looked like it might be all over with Collingwood about to run away with the win. As it turned out, the complete opposite took place. Adelaide seemed to lift all over the ground simultaneously and kicked three quick goals via a clever kick off the ground by Podsiadly, tough work by Patrick Dangerfield that set up a long goal to Douglas and a long chain of quick handballs setting up David McKay to kick truly on the run. With the game still well and truly in the balance, Walker stepped up to kick two late goals and seal the game for the Crows. Although Jarryd Blair got a late one for the Pies before the final siren it was all too late and Sanderson had his Adelaide team sitting in eighth position on the Ladder.
The Crows now head back to the Adelaide Oval for Round 19 to face the struggling West Coast Eagles while Collingwood faces Port Adelaide in what is proving to be an early Final for the Magpies as they endeavor to keep their Finals hopes alive.
Scoreboard Collingwood: 3.0 5.4 8.8 12.10 (82) Adelaide: 5.5 7.8 9.13 14.14 (98) Best Players Collingwood: Beams, Sidebottom, Lumumba, Cloke, Pendlebury Adelaide: Smith, Crouch, Dangerfield, Martin, Jaensch, Sloane
Article last changed on Friday, August 01, 2014 - 12:29 AM EDT