You can’t help but wonder… what if Port Adelaide had finished 8th and we had a Showdown Elimination Final? Doubtlessly, it would have given us a more compelling game of football than the one served up at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night. The Roos were outclassed by the ruthless Crows – and while they hung in until half time, the class of the Crows stepped up after half time – an 8 goal third quarter emphasising the gulf in talent between these two teams, and just for good measure – the Crows booted another 7 goals in the last quarter to turn a 12 point half time lead into a 62 point victory.
As we’ve spoken about all year – if the Crows break even in the midfield – and they get their forwards plenty of the ball – they probably have the most efficient forward line in the competition. And break even they did. Centre clearances were even, and Jacobs and Goldstein both gave their on ball brigade plenty of opportunity – but it was around the ground where the Crows were able to exert their influence. Lyons, Thompson, Sloane, and one of the Crouch boys proving more than a match for Dal Santo, Cunnington, Wells, and Swallow.
This edge around clearances meant that the Crows were able to pump the ball inside 50 on a far more regular basis than North – 68 inside 50’s to 40 simply illustrated how the Crows mids were on top. And of course, when the ball is coming inside 50 that often, it becomes nasty for defenders. The Crows took 19 marks inside 50, and the balls that weren’t marked – well, a little bloke named Eddie Betts took care of that small problem.
He booted 6 goals, big Tom Lynch snagged 4, and Tex and Josh Jenkins kicked 2 apiece. 14 goals between the 4 key Crows forwards, and the North defenders simply could not stop them. Not that they were on their lonesome – I’m not sure there was one North player on the ground that won their position. Majak Daw can probably hold his head up – 4 marks inside 50 and 4 goals, while Lindsay Thomas would have been the best small forward on the ground not named Eddie Betts – 3 goals and 5 inside 50’s from him in a game where opportunity was severely limited. Maybe Shaun Higgins gets a pass mark as well with 15 possessions and 2 snags. But that’s probably it.
The rest of the North side were largely underwhelming, and it will be a big reality check for them in round 1 next season when they come to team selection and don’t have Petrie, Harvey, Firrito, and Dal Santo to choose from. Ol’ 2 Kick Petrie has had a stinker of a month, but all 4 of those have been in and around North’s best players this season. The other ones are Daniel Wells and Jarrad Waite, both over 30 – and both usually spending significant time on the pine throughout seasons with either injury or suspension.
North’s biggest issue over the last 2 months has been the likes of Ziebell, Cunnington, Swallow, and Atley. They’re all good players – but they lack a hurt factor. And, in finals footy – if you don’t have a midfield that can break open a game – you will struggle to win games.
Speaking of breaking open a game – well, we need to focus on Eddie. It took him up until the end of the first quarter to get on the scoreboard – but it was a period of about 15 minutes where he was irresistible – probably the last 10 minutes of the third quarter, and the first 5 of the last where, off the back of some deep forward 50 entries, he sunk the Roos with 4 goals. Just as it looked like the Kangas might get to three quarter time just 4 goals down and still somewhat in touch – Eddie went bang and lit up the Adelaide Oval, and brought a much needed touch of class to the finals series. He booted 3 goals in the back end of the third, and another early in the fourth, and suddenly – the 4 goal margin was out over 8 goals and the Kangas were done. Shaun Atley wouldn’t have needed a shower post game, because Eddie gave him a bath.
The Crows got through the game without injury worries – but will likely be without defender Kyle Hartigan – who did what we all would like to do, and give Lindsay Thomas an old fashioned kicking. He was reported for tripping (aka The Dustin Fletcher Manoeuvre), and I reckon he’ll get the old one week sanction.
The Crows will now take on the Swans at the SCG next week in what could be a “Match of the Year” candidate, while the Roos head into the off season with many headaches and a lot of list work to be done. Expect them to be active in trade week.
Adelaide 21.15.141 def
North Melbourne 12.7.79