Jamie Kloeden reporting for AFANA from AAMI Stadium, Adelaide
Adelaide got out of jail in Round 9 with a dramatic last gasp win in a memorable game against North Melbourne. Crows' fans were looking forward to a confidence filled team taking on the in form Fremantle outfit at home in their Round 10 clash. The Dockers have a mediocre record at AAMI Stadium with their most recent loss there occurring in the Finals just last season.
Still missing from the Fremantle side were a range of high profile stars with none bigger than Matthew Pavlich and Aaron Sandilands who are both still on the injury list. However as it turned out, the conditions were better suited to the smaller men. Heavy rain drenched Adelaide all day Friday and on the Saturday morning before the game conditions were not much better, promising a tough contest. Both coaches flagged their intentions early by placing an extra man in defense.
Docker Michael Johnson got the defensive role for Ross Lyon and Andy Otten was his counterpart at the other end of the field for the Crows. Both players were in the play early as scoring got off to a slow start. Marks up forward were tough to come by and it was an opportunist goal to Nick Suban off the ground that got the goal scoring underway. It was a hard slog for both sides and it wasn’t until Patrick Dangerfield edged his close checking opponent Ryan Crowley under the ball that he was able to run into the open goal to register the first for the Crows. One minute later it was an instant replay, with Dangerfield once again winning the one on one dual with Crowley for another quick goal. Another goal to each side before quarter time saw Adelaide lead by ten points but whether this was enough of a margin with Fremantle now kicking with the wind at their backs remained to be seen.
Tendai Mzungu kicked a long goal in the early part of the second quarter to draw the Dockers closer but Josh Jenkins answered almost straight away at the other end. As the rain continued and the wind started to get stronger, conditions became increasingly tough for the players and as Fremantle started to play their excellent defensive style of game, it was evident that this match up was going to be a close, low scoring affair. There were only three more goals before half time as a quick thinking Hayden Ballantyne roved the pack and popped one through before Suban kicked his second a minute later. Another five minutes passed before Nathan Fyfe squeezed one through from a tight angle and that was it for the half as Fremantle went to the break 11 points up.
Early play in the third quarter was dominated by the Crows but they could not translate their effort into scores on the board. Against the flow of play Chris Mayne positioned himself well to take the mark and kicked truly. Michael Barlow was continuing on with his great form from recent weeks as he accumulated possessions and was becoming the most influential player on the ground by constantly pushing the ball forward. Michael Johnson continued to play his sweeping role in defense and was plugging up the holes perfectly. For the Crows, hard working rookie Rory Laird was having by far his best game in the AFL and it got even better when he kicked a long goal to keep Adelaide in touch. By three quarter time it was still anyone’s game with Fremantle holding a slim eight point lead.
With the rain clearing, many expected goals to come at a steady pace but once again, the dour defensive play of the Dockers made life difficult for the Crows anytime they looked to move forward. At the other end the Ben Rutten led Crows defensive unit was also tightening up and keeping it close. A controversial goal was awarded to Patrick Dangerfield at the 12 minute mark of the quarter but when the decision was referred for a video replay, the decision was overturned with footage appearing to show the ball scraping the inside of the goal post as it crossed the line. Dangerfield did manage to kick a goal minutes later to put Adelaide in front but two quick replies were kicked at the other end through Barlow and Cameron Sutcliffe and the game was going to go down to the wire. As it turned out, the last 15 minutes of the game were played out without another goal scored and Fremantle finished up seven point victors.
A tough, draining game resulted in a rare win for the Dockers at AAMI Stadium while Adelaide now faces an uphill battle to make the Final Eight after many preseason experts had them sitting in the Top Four. The Crows' job doesn’t get any easier in Round 12 when they will host the reigning Premiers. Sydney will be visiting minus ex-Crow Kurt Tippett who still has one game remaining on his 11 game suspension but the game still promises to have plenty of spice following the tumultuous off season saga involving the two clubs.
Fremantle players have the week off and will use the bye to rest up for what could be an exciting second half of the season for Dockers fans as their team finds themselves as legitimate contenders for this year's crown.
Scoreboard Adelaide: 3.5 4.5 6.8 8.11 (59) Fremantle: 2.1 6.4 8.4 10.6 (66) Best Players Adelaide: Laird, Dangerfield, Sloane, Rutten, Smith, Jacobs Fremantle: Barlow, McPharlin, Johnson, Mundy, Fyfe, Mzungu
Article last changed on Monday, May 28, 2018 - 5:36 PM EDT