Jamie Kloeden reporting for AFANA from Adelaide, Australia
All of Adelaide is a buzz at the moment with the hometown Crows exceeding all expectations in their first year with Brenton Sanderson at the helm. St Kilda is also having a solid start to the year under their own first year mentor but the Scott Watters led Saints faced a big challenge on the big stage of Friday Night Football in Round 12. When the two sides met last in 2011, St Kilda recorded a phenomenal 103 point victory with Neil Craig going on to relinquish his position as Adelaide coach in the days that followed. A lot has changed in that short time with the Crows looking like a totally different outfit in the first half of season 2012.
Both teams have been playing a more attacking brand of football than in previous years and the early going was a good indication of what was to come for the night. Within 10 seconds of the first bounce, Kurt Tippett had already taken his first mark and while he missed the shot on goal, the fast paced start was a great sign for everyone viewing the game. Adelaide continued on to dominate the flow of play in the early going with Scott Thompson accumulating a lot of early touches. His long kick to the goal front was once again marked by Tippett but this time resulted in a goal. Another goal to the Crows came through David McKay and had the Saints looking in all sorts of early trouble. Against the run of play they were able to enter their forward line and Jack Steven roved the ball off the pack and snapped truly for the first Saints' goal. While these events were taking place on the field, much of the St Kilda attention was also off the field with captain Nick Riewoldt disappearing into the rooms with what appeared to be some sort of knee injury. Much to the pleasure of the Saints' faithful, he re-emerged before the end of the quarter showing no lingering effects of the injury. The Saints hit the lead briefly after Riewoldt returned to the field but the Crows outscored them three goals to two for the rest of the quarter with Tippett continuing to dominate with three goals by quarter time.
Beginning the second quarter with a 14 point lead obviously wasn’t enough for the Crows as they started this quarter with attack after attack. Porplyzia goaled after some good work up on the wing by Michael Doughty and Brodie Martin but their radar around the goals deserted them and a couple of misses in a row kept the Saints in with a chance. Riewoldt put his injury concerns behind him and marked strongly in front of the close checking Daniel Tahlia but he too missed the shot on goal. This proved costly as Porplyzia chimed in with two more quick ones. Nick Dal Santo was having a great game in the midfield for St Kilda and pegged one back with a quick goal out of the center of the ground but Adelaide was dominating the contested possession around the ground and it appeared that they were going to put the game beyond reach.
St Kilda must have felt the same and, with an Adelaide cakewalk on the cards, they suddenly began controlling the flow of play. After a couple of quick goals, they had the margin back to 10 points and there would have been less than a goal in it had Stephen Milne not missed a relatively easy goal after receiving a free kick in front of goals. The game was an even contest for the remainder of the half and with a 72-56 scoreline in favor of the Crows at the break, the game was still very much there for the taking.
Third quarter action saw Adelaide once again start the scoring with Josh Jenkins setting up Tippett for his fourth goal but St Kilda responded quickly through David Armitage. The high scoring, free flowing style of football continued with goals to Sam Jacobs and Ian Callinan for the Crows and then Nick Riewoldt for St Kilda. Poor kicking started to plague the Saints and they missed three chances that would have got them right back into the game. To make matters worse, the Crows finally managed to get the ball back in their forward half and it was an errant kick by the Saints in defense that resulted in Scott Thompson converting his chance. Another goal late in the quarter to Matthew Wright and yet another missed Saints opportunity saw the margin blow out to 31 points with just a quarter to go.
Again it was Adelaide with the jump at the start of the final quarter but it was their time to miss easy opportunities. Taylor Walker hit the post following a mark and then missed a shot from an even easier position on the ground soon after. Scott Watters obviously instructed his charges at three quarter time to play an aggressive style of football and believe that they could still win the game. They lifted all over the ground and a good running goal from Dal Santo was followed straight away by another goal to their skipper Riewoldt. Milne missed an absolute sitter and Steven appeared to kick a goal that turned out to be touched by Michael Doughty. When Tippett kicked truly up the other end to register his fifth for the game it looked as though Adelaide may have held off the challenge. Arryn Sipposs showed some electric pace and roved the ball of the pack in the forward pocket to give the Saints yet another sniff of a comeback and when Milne kicked a long goal the margin was back to 16 points. The ultra-fit Crows line up was starting to show some rare signs of tiredness and when their nemesis Milne kicked yet another goal, the margin was suddenly down to 10 points with just three minutes to go.
Unfortunately for Saints fans, while this late charge looked for a like it was going to result in an unlikely victory, the Crows were able to hold off the challenge for the last few minutes. As Leigh Montagna took a mark and lined up for goal the siren sounded. His accurate kick after the siren gave a final score of 115 to 111 in favor of the home side.
St Kilda will now look to make the most of their time off next week while Adelaide travel to Melbourne on Sunday to take on the Kangaroos and establish themselves in the top four.
Scoreboard Adelaide: 5.3 11.6 16.7 17.13 (115) St Kilda: 3.1 8.8 10.12 16.15 (111) Best Players Adelaide: Thompson, Dangerfield, Jacobs, Tippett, Callinan, Sloane, Porplyzia St Kilda: Dal Santo, Montagna, Hayes, Schneider, Jones, Steven, Milne
Article last changed on Monday, June 25, 2012 - 10:06 AM EDT