The Fremantle Dockers survived a third-quarter attack from the Adelaide Crows to break through for their first win of the season. The more experienced Adelaide players controlled the ball in the midfield for long periods of the game, but the Crow forwards were wasteful in front of goals and delivered spirit-sapping misses. The once-mighty Crows, who were Grand Finalists in 2017, now sit at the bottom of the AFL table with little to suggest they have the players, or the desire, to challenge other teams. The young Dockers played without their captain and dual Brownlow medallist, Nat Fyfe, were missing their three biggest defenders; and yet ran out comfortable winners against the physically stronger Adelaide team.
The Dockers began the game by using kicking rather than handball to set up attacks. They played a short game that relied on accurate short kicks and retention of possession to patiently set their attacks. Docker ruckman Sean Darcy, returning from injury, beat boom Adelaide ruckman Reilly O’Brien in the tap outs, but Ben Keays, Brad Crouch and Matt Crouch won most of the clearances for Adelaide. The Crows tried to take advantage of the undersized Docker defense by kicking long to Taylor (Tex) Walker and Shane McAdam.
The Docker defense survived repeated entries courtesy of the strong spoiling of Griffin Logue who denied many Adelaide marking (catching) chances. When the Adelaide forwards did get the ball in hand, they butchered shots which should have been goals and let the Dockers off the hook. At the other end of the ground, the Dockers were well served by accurate scoring from Sam Sturt, Michael Walters, Darcy Tucker, and Rory Lobb. The Crow's first goal came after the siren to end the second quarter when Myles Poholke kicked truly from a set shot. If a player marks (catches) the ball before the siren, he is permitted to take a set shot, even though the quarter has ended. Poholke’s goal brought the Crows to within touching distance of the Dockers and set the Crows for a third-quarter comeback.
The Crows attacked for much of the third stanza with little to show for their effort, due to strong Docker tackling in the midfield and the dour defense by Luke Ryan, Ethan Hughes, and Nathan Wilson across the Docker half-back line. The Crows were unable to break through. James Aish kept Adelaide’s most creative player, Rory Sloan, quiet and won plenty of the ball himself. A rare defensive
breakout saw the ball transferred quickly to the Docker forward line, as Sam Sturt showed skill in a pack to kick to Lobb, who booted his second. The Crows then responded with their midfield players finding legs and running for the handball.
Their quick kicks down the spine of the oval, caught the Docker defense before they had time to set up. Three successive goals in the second half of the quarter to a lively Billy Frampton, Tom Lynch, and Shane McAdam brought the Crows level with the Dockers. The Crows finally had value for effort. The two Crouch brothers and Rory Laird were instrumental in Adelaide’s push and it was only the inside work of Docker midfielders Hamish Brayshaw and David Mundy, that prevented the Crows from completely taking charge.
Showing maturity, the Dockers settled in the final quarter. In the first minute, Sean Darcy weighted a clever kick to Matt Taberner, who booted truly to put the Dockers a goal in front. At the 8-minute point, Michael Walters launched himself against bigger opponents to claim some serious air time and take a mark, which he converted to extend the Dockers' lead. Adelaide tried for a while, but could not make inroads on the running Dockers. A goal to Tucker with two minutes on the clock highlighted the differences between the teams. Tucker won a contest in defense and then ran the length of the ground to receive in the forward line and convert. There was no Adelaide player running with Tucker, so he was free to create a loose man in attack. The Dockers spread the game across the field and the Crows lost interest in doing the hard things when it mattered. The experienced Crows players such as Walker, Daniel Talia, and Rory Sloan do not appear to have their respective hearts in the game. The youthful Dockers were given too much freedom and were able to use their skills to demoralize the aging Crows. There is no light at the end of the Adelaide tunnel.
Next week the Dockers have a tougher challenge against the resurgent Saints. St Kilda recently thrashed Richmond and have a demonstrated appetite for hard work. The Crows travel north to the Gabba to meet the West Coast Eagles, who have just re-found their mojo against the floundering Sydney Swans.
Scores Adelaide Crows: 0.3 1.6 4.8 4.10 (34) Fremantle Dockers: 3.0 4.1 5.3 8.6 (54) Best Adelaide Crows: B Crouch, M Crouch, Laird, Dodee, Smith Fremantle Dockers: Mundy, Brayshaw, Logue, Aish, Darcy
Article last changed on Monday, July 06, 2020 - 2:25 PM EDT