Adelaide players have referred to their season thus far as "a roller coaster" with the last five rounds alternating between wins and losses. Players have stated publicly that their aim is to find some consistency and start stringing the wins together or risk playing themselves out of Finals' contention. North Melbourne on the other hand is currently in the Top Eight but is a team fighting for consistency as players try to live up to big preseason expectations.
Veteran Crow Brent Reilly hasn’t been having his best season by a long stretch but he returned to the line up this week to play his 200th AFL game and the Crows were certainly hoping to make it a memorable one for him. Adelaide Oval was jumping as the Crows showed some good play early but the scoreboard wasn’t ticking over and it appeared that all the good work might be wasted. While the Kangaroos had chances through Drew Petrie and Andrew Swallow, neither could capitilize and it wasn’t until the 13 minute mark that a goal was finally scored. James Podsiadly, rapidly becoming a crowd favorite with his new team, kicked a goal to get things underway before the highlight of the night arrived minutes later. The other major recruit for the Crows during the off-season was ex-Carlton danger forward Eddie Betts. When he ran along the boundary line and snapped a goal from deep in the forward pocket on a torturous angle right in front of a raucous home crowd on the hill in front of the scoreboard, many believed they had witnessed the goal of the year. Although television replays showed that Betts may have been over the boundary line, the goal was not disputed and Adelaide had everything going their way.
Ex-Richmond forward Robin Nahas managed a steadying goal for North Melbourne but it was to be their only one for the quarter as Matthew Wright and Betts again added major scores for the Crows before quarter time to set up a 20 point lead. The way things were panning out, it looked like Kangaroos' coach Brad Scott was going to have to change things up to stem the flow. Stem the flow is exactly what he did as two extra players went back into defense at various stages from this point on but the strategy didn't succeed for long as Taylor Walker, Sam Kerridge and Podsiadly all kicked goals within minutes to put the game all but out of reach for the Kangaroos. It was the start of a big night for Kerridge as he was relieved of his usual tight tagging role and blossomed as a small forward kicking four goals in total for the game. While overall they were struggling, there was still a handful of North Melbourne players holding their own for the night including Levi Greenwood and the evergreen veteran Brent Harvey but even solid play by these two couldn’t seem to get the Kangaroos back in control. Late goals to Lachlan Hansen, Lindsay Thomas and Greenwood had things looking better but that man Betts stepped up and kicked his third goal as the half time siren sounded. The Crows took a 28 point lead into the break and were certainly the better-looking side by a long way.
Thomas popped up for his second goal as the second half got underway and a few smiles returned to North Melbourne fans' faces but when Kerridge slotted his second for the Crows a lot of the early hard work by the Kangaroos went to waste. While the contest seemed closer Adelaide was in fact slowly building its lead and with the scoring shots eight to six in the Crows favor, they kicked five goals to two for the quarter and it was essentially game over for the Kangaroos.
Playing like a team with nothing to lose, North Melbourne suddenly had all the run and started the final quarter with four of the first five scoring shots. Unfortunately for the Kangaroos, only one of the shots was converted into a goal and at the other end Taylor Walker kicked truly following tremendous play by Betts and Brodie Smith. Although North Melbourne outscored the Crows in the last quarter - leaving their coach to lament why they didn't show that form for the whole night - the Crows finished up victors by 36 points.
Brodie Smith was exceptional for the home side in what was probably his best game at AFL level with his run and rebound from half back invaluable. His long, accurate kicking is a feature of his game and the setting up of play that he creates from defense is reminiscent of what Adelaide crowds became accustomed to when club legend Andrew McLeod was plying his trade. Betts returned to form in a big way after a patchy few weeks and Kerridge showed that he is more than "a one trick pony". While his role in future will probably return to that of a defensive specialist, he showed that given the opportunity to run around in front of goals he can be a very dangerous player.
North Melbourne returns home to Melbourne this week to face a surprisingly in form Melbourne outfit in a must win Sunday twilight game while the Crows will also be in Melbourne facing off against in Essendon, the team that lost to the Demons last weekend.
Scoreboard Adelaide: 4.4 8.7 13.10 16.13 (109) North Melbourne: 1.2 4.3 6.7 10.13 (73) Best Players Adelaide: Smith, Podsiadly, Kerridge, Betts, Sloane, Dangerfield North Melbourne: Harvey, Greenwood, Thomas, Cunnington, Hansen
Article last changed on Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - 10:02 AM EDT