A quirk of the English language is that the collective noun for crows is "a murder". The Adelaide Crows didn't murder the West Coast Eagles, but they did their best to put a damper on the Eagles' farewell celebrations for retiring former captain Shannon Hurn and current captain Luke Shuey, as well as injured star ruckman Nic Naitanui. A quirk in the AFL regulations cost the Crows a position in this year's final series, when a video review of a goal umpire error at the end of last week's one point loss against Sydney, was not applied. (The umpire incorrectly judged a Crow's shot on goal as a behind [worth one point], instead of a goal [worth six points]). The Crows could be excused for feeling deflated and disinterested in the game against the Eagles. They had nothing to gain, apart from perhaps proving a point that they deserved to be finalists. Alternatively, the Eagles had every reason to farewell their three retiring stalwarts with a win. A win for the Eagles was not an impossible dream. The previous week they had defeated the Western Bulldogs, in Melbourne, which ultimately led to the Bulldogs missing the finals. The stage was set for an intriguing contest.
The contest started at a cracking pace, where both teams played an entertaining fast-moving style. It took two minutes for Taylor (Tex) Walker to grab a ball from a boundary throw-in, shrug off a Jeremy McGovern tackle and snap the first goal for Adelaide. Four minutes later the raucous home crowd sprang to life as Oscar Allen booted the Eagles' first goal, on the run from fifty meters. Three minutes later Tim Kelly, who played inspired football for West Coast, kicked to Noah Long, who chipped a short kick to Jack Darling, who marked (caught the ball) and his goal put the Eagles in front. Not to be out-done, Josh Rachelle replied by kicking the ball soccer style, off the ground from twenty meters to re-establish the Adelaide lead. Shuey wound back the clock to kick a goal on the run.
The Crows were winning in the ruck and had a slight edge in clearances, but the Eagles tackled with rare venom. For Adelaide, Rory Laird and Matt Crouch provided plenty of drive for the visitors. Both teams kicked long and high to the forward lines with the Crows looking for Walker and the Eagles kicking to Allen or Darling. Reilly O'Brien also was dominant in the air around the field for Adelaide. The visitors finished the first term ten points up, but would have had a much bigger lead if their goal kicking was accurate. The Eagles had less opportunities to score but were more accurate with their shots.
The second and third terms continued with the standards set in the first term. The lead changed fourteen times as both teams committed to quick transferences and used the central corridor to speed their attacks. High marking became a feature. Tex Walker's presence grew as the game progressed. Jeremy McGovern is one of the league's best intercept markers, but his talents were wasted as he tried to compete man-on-man with Walker. Tex was too big and too strong. The Crows kicked to Walker whenever they could, perhaps to their detriment. Walker had an incredible nineteen shots at goal for a return of nine goals and four behinds. It became clear that their intent was to push him to the top of the AFL goal-kickers list. He finished with a career-high season tally of seventy-six goals but the effort would be in vain. Twenty hours later Walker was overtaken by Carlton's Charlie Curnow, who booted three goals against the Giants to finish with seventy-eight for the season.
Until twenty-four minutes into the third stanza, the Eagles were equal with the Crows. Liam Duggan and Luke Shuey played busily in the midfield to support the irrepressible Kelly. For Adelaide, youngsters Jake Soligo and Josh Rachele supported Jordan Dawson, Crouch and Laird as the Crows wore down the Eagles. Two late goals in the third term to Adelaide and two in the first three minutes of the final quarter had the Eagles in trouble. When Jack Darling missed the unmissable shot from fifteen meters in front, the Eagles spirits' sunk. Adelaide lifted their running through the middle of the ground and the Eagles gave up the chase. Adelaide added four more goals to finish the season with their heads held high. The Eagles had given their best for most of three quarters but couldn't get the job done.
West Coast finish at the bottom of the table and will have the prized first pick in the draft later this year. They will probably trade for two later picks. Their stocks of talent are at an all-time low and three of their best players have just retired. Adelaide's stocks are on the rise. Missing the finals will burn them all summer. Their young stars will grow. The only question mark will be concerning Tex Walker and how long he can continue?
Scores West Coast Eagles: 3.1 8.3 12.4 12.6 (78) Adelaide Crows: 4.5 5.10 11.17 17.21 (123) Best West Coast Eagles: Kelly, Duggan, Shuey, Hurn, Hough Adelaide Crows: Walker, Laird, Rachele, Soligo, Dawson
Article last changed on Sunday, August 27, 2023 - 12:10 PM EDT