The Adelaide Crows have strengthened their claim on premiership favoritism with a dominating 36 point victory over a disappointing Greater Western Sydney Giants in the first qualifying final at Adelaide Oval on Thursday evening.
The win takes Adelaide into a preliminary final against the winner of next weekend’s Geelong vs Sydney Swans clash at the MCG. It will be the first time Adelaide has appeared in a preliminary final since 2012 when they went down narrowly to Hawthorn.
With star midfielder Rory Sloane failing to recover from an appendix operation, it was left the Matt and Brad Crouch to pick up the slack in the midfield, with the brothers continuing their stellar form with 31 and 27 disposals respectively against the Giants vaunted young lineup.
Mercurial small forward Eddie Betts turned on the magic in front of a full house of excited spectators, kicking three first half goals while assisting on several others to break the spirit of a disorganized Giants outfit.
The Giants kicked the first goal of the game through Harrison Hinmmelberg – promoted over the experienced Stevie Johnson – but it was all downhill from there for the visitors as the Crows piled on eight unanswered goals, giving Adelaide a 44 point lead at half time. The Giants struggled to hit targets all night, taking a whopping 59 disposals for every goal, compared to the efficient Crows who needed just 28.3 disposals per goal on average.
To their credit, the Giants came out much harder at the start of the second half, kicking three consecutive goals in the first seven minutes through Callan Ward, Toby Greene and Stephen Coniglio. Any hint of a comeback was soon snuffed out by the well-drilled Crows as they kicked the next three goals through Richard Douglas, Tom Lynch and Brad Crouch, regaining the ascendancy and allowing coach Don Pyke to use his rotations with a minimum of stress on his players.
With a 43 point lead at the final break, the Crows cruised home by despite not scoring a goal in the final term.
The only downside for Adelaide was the early loss of Brodie Smith to a season ending knee injury, the unheralded defender going down not long after launching a magnificent long goal at the nine minute mark of the first quarter.
The Giants have injury concerns of their own, with key forward Jeremy Cameron leaving the game with a suspected hamstring strain, putting him in doubt for next week’s elimination final against the West Coast Eagles and possibly the Preliminary final should the Giants make it.
Adelaide is now in the envious position of playing a preliminary final at home in front of their raucous crowd, giving them an excellent chance of appearing in their first Grand Final since the second of their back to back victories in 1998.
For the Giants, despite excellent performances from Josh Kelly, Stephen Coniglio, Callan Ward and defender Zac Williams, the road to a Preliminary final will be through a home final at Spotless Stadium against the West Coast Eagles who defeated Port Adelaide with a miraculous after the siren goal to Luke Shuey.
Scoreboard: Adelaide Crows 3.4 8.7 12.8 12.12 (84) Greater Western Sydney Giants 1.4 1.5 5.7 6.12 (48) Best Players: Adelaide: Betts, M.Crouch, Lynch, B.Crouch, Jacobs. Greater Western Sydney: Kelly, Coniglio, Scully, Ward.
Article last changed on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 - 1:07 AM EDT