Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Subiaco Oval
Four weeks ago the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles were both near the bottom of the table looking at the Wooden Spoon. What a difference a month makes. Since then Adelaide had won their last three games and climbed slowly up the ladder while the Eagles had slipped to last place. On a wintry Perth day Adelaide had the chance to win four on the trot and virtually cement the Eagles in bottom position. West Coast veteran Andrew Embley was playing his 200th game and there was belief at Subiaco Oval that the Eagles might get over the line in his milestone match.
Kurt Tippett opened with a goal for the Crows after a scrappy start to the game. The Eagles applied good pressure on their opponents and had the ball locked into their forward line for the early part of the first quarter. The Crows had a much better scoring percentage every time they moved into their forward 50 meter zone, and had three goals to one on the board due to their efficiency. The Eagles' skills fell away as the quarter progressed. They always took the second option and as a result turned the ball over consistently to the Crows. In a strange passage of play, Scott Selwood handballed straight to the umpire, mistaking him for a teammate. The Crows pounced on the error and Brad Symes scored a goal. As the first quarter ended the Crows had nearly doubled the Eagles' score and led by 13 points.
It was a hard fought encounter in the second quarter and Mark LeCras stepped up for the home side to kick the first two goals. The Eagles wasted opportunities by being reckless in their delivery and goals to Jason Porplezia and Ricky Henderson kept the Crows in the game. The Eagles were more committed to the contests and their tackling was fierce. LeCras kicked a timely goal to give the Eagles a slight two point lead at the end of the half.
Kicking with a two goal wind advantage in the third quarter, the Eagles squandered their chances while Bernie Vince and Matthew Jaensch kicked goals to put the Crows out to a ten point advantage. Lewis Stevenson brought the margin back, but it proved short-lived when Patrick Dangerfield marked and goaled for the Crows. Brad Sheppard kicked his first goal for the Eagles and Ashton Hams followed soon after, but Taylor Walker’s steadying major saw the Adelaide Crows ahead by two points going into the final term.
Tippett again marked strongly at the top of the goal square early in the final quarter and proceeded to kick two consecutive goals to give the Crows some breathing space. The Eagles answered with goals of their own, none better than Embley’s take over the top of the pack and a fantastic run on to score. Henderson answered with a goal for Adelaide, but a West Coast-to-coast play saw the ball move from one end of the ground to the other and Embley finish off with another classic goal. It was the Adelaide forwards' ability to take strong contested overhead marks that proved the deciding factor in the end. Porplezia and Rory Sloane sealed the win for the Crows with goals after winning stoppages at the bounces.
West Coast is now certain to finish last for the first time in its 25 year history. Unless the Eagles' players can learn to hit a target when they pass the ball by hand or foot, they will be there for years to come. Adelaide has an outside chance of making the Finals. Although more polished than the Eagles, they still have a way to go if they are to match it with the top teams in the competition.
Scoreboard West Coast 2.2 7.5 10.9 14.11 (95) Adelaide 4.3 6.9 10.12 17.15 (117) Best players West Coast M LeCras, M Rosa, M Brown, A Embley, L Stevenson Adelaide K Tippett, S Goodwin, R Henderson, T Walker, B Vince
Article last changed on Wednesday, July 14, 2010 - 8:44 AM EDT