Jamie Kloeden reporting for AFANA from Adelaide, Australia
After a heart breaking after the siren loss to the West Coast Eagles last round, the North Melbourne Kangaroos were hoping that a home game, back under the roof at Etihad Stadium, against the traveling Adelaide Crows might be enough to get the confidence back up for a push towards the Top Eight. An indifferent start to the season had the Crows in a very similar position on the Ladder so many of the experts predicted a tight tussle with much on the line for both sides. And a tight tussle was certainly what played out with many touting this contest as the game of the season thus far.
Both teams played a fast, free flowing brand of football and the result was a very high 249 points scored for the game. Unfortunately for the Kangaroos, they managed only 124 of those points while the Crows kicked 125, meaning yet another narrow loss for a team that has now lost four games this season by less than a goal.
In the early part of the game North Melbourne jumped out of the blocks kicking four of the five goals that were scored in the first quarter. Lindsay Thomas continued his hot form by kicking two of these goals while Bernie Vince kicked the only major score for Adelaide in what was at times a scrappy start by the visitors.
Thomas started the second quarter on fire once again as he marked within 90 seconds and kicked truly. One minute later he was on the scoreboard kicking another to give him four goals with just over 30 minutes gone in the game. When the veteran Brent Harvey took the ball off of the pack and kicked his first, the Kangaroos had increased their lead to 38 points and, as legendary commentator Bruce McAvaney said during his call of the game, “this could become a rout!” The Crows finally made some inroads as they started to control the play with a couple of behinds before Jared Petrenko picked up the ball after dropping a mark and steadied to kick the second for his team. A long goal by an in form Richard Douglas and the margin was reduced to 26 points. Then yet another to the Crows, this time from Bernie Vince and suddenly all momentum was back with Adelaide. However the game took another turn and North Melbourne responded with three goals in quick succession through Jack Ziebell and Ryan Bastinac and restored a good lead for their fans.
An entertaining quarter of football continued at a frantic pace and, just as North had stretched their lead out to 36 points, the Crows once again turned up the heat and went on an unexpected run to finish the quarter with four unanswered goals. At half time the margin was just ten points. Douglas was dominating in the midfield for Adelaide while North Melbourne had Ziebell looking dangerous across half forward. Either of these two were looking like potential game breakers for the second half.
Thomas started the second half as he did the first with an early goal and Aaron Black followed soon after to get the Kangaroos off to the perfect start for coach Brad Scott. When Ziebell took an uncontested mark and converted the Crows were looking in a lot of trouble. A big turning point in the match was certainly an unexpected one as Brenton Sanderson used the sub rule to take his star ruckman Sam Jacobs off the field and replace him with the smaller and faster Jason Porplyzia. Jacobs had been having a tough time making any impact on the game against Todd Goldstein in the ruck and Sanderson took a big risk is relying on young Shaun McKernan to handle the duties from here out. As it turned out, the move was a master stroke. McKernan, while not necessarily winning the battle, was able to hold his own against Goldstein for the rest of the game and Porplyzia injected some fresh legs into both the midfield and forward line. His pace helped the Crows back into the game late in the quarter but despite a couple late goals through Jenkins and Sam Kerridge (who managed his third of the day) it was the Kangaroos who went into the final break holding an 18 point lead.
What followed was an amazing quarter that will be remembered for a long time to come, particularly by the Adelaide faithful. Drew Petrie took a strong mark at the five minute mark of the quarter to push the margin out to 29 points. This was followed by a goal to Vince for the Crows and then another to North Melbourne when Daniel Wells capitalized on a terrible error by Brent Reilly kicking out of defense for Adelaide. North now looked home with a 30 point lead and about ten minutes remaining in the game.
Suddenly, the momentum changed. Sam Kerridge continued his best game so far for the club by marking and goaling. The fresh legs of Porplyzia gained him possession as he fed the ball to Kerridge - now the set up man - who kicked his fifth for the day. Kerridge continued to dominate, getting the ball out to Douglas who kicked the goal that put the Crows back to within 12 points. This margin was narrowed once again when the Kangaroos pushed the ball forward but Daniel Talia was able to intercept the ball and drive it forward where it once again found the man of the moment - Sam Kerridge - who kicked his third for the quarter and sixth for the match.
After Petrenko missed a difficult shot, the margin was down to just five points with only one minute remaining. Petrie took possession of the ball across half back for the Kangaroos but was unable to find the target that he needed and once again Adelaide took possession. A long, hopeful kick into the forward line by Jenkins went unmarked but when the ball hit the ground and rolled towards the Adelaide goals, it was Petrenko who found himself in the right spot. When he threw his foot at the ball and kicked it through for a goal, it was the Crows leading by a solitary point.
When the ball was bounced to restart play, Vince gained possession and it was all over. The Crows had stolen victory from the Kangaroos and the Crows players, coaching staff and supporters went nuts. A magnificent come from behind win shot the Crows up into the Top Eight while the Kangaroos were left to lament yet another one that got away. They now find themselves sitting in 13th place on the Ladder and are looking at a tough road ahead if they are to feature in Finals action.
Adding to the problems for North Melbourne came the news of Jack Ziebell being cited for an illegal bump on Jarryd Lyons. The Match Review Panel handed him a three game suspension and he will now be watching from the sidelines when his side takes on St Kilda this Sunday at Etihad Stadium in team mate Brent Harvey’s 350th AFL game. Adelaide will be home at AAMI Stadium in Round Ten against a strong Fremantle Dockers outfit that looms as one of the match ups of the round.
Scoreboard North Melbourne: 4.4 10.6 16.6 19.10 (124) Adelaide: 1.2 8.8 12.12 18.17 (125) Best Players North Melbourne: Thomas, Ziebell, Gibson, Harvey, Wells, Thompson Adelaide: Kerridge, Douglas, Dangerfield, Jenkins, Thompson, Vince
Article last changed on Thursday, May 30, 2013 - 6:43 PM EDT