ADELAIDE 1.3 4.7 8.9 12.9 (81)
FREMANTLE 4.1 7.2 8.4 11.5 (71)
The Adelaide Crows have finally hushed all naysayers, coming back from a 29 point deficit to record an outstanding third quarter surge and hard fought 10 point victory at AAMI Stadium on Friday night.
Key forward Taylor Walker – often noticed only for his mullet and not his goal-kicking nous, was absolutely outstanding for the home crowd as they triumphed in front of 31,742 fans, marching onwards to a preliminary final berth against the Hawks.
Jason Porplyzia (23 disposals, 11 marks, 3 goals), captain Nathan van Berlo (17 disposals, 9 marks, 6 tackles) and midfield general Scott Thompson (27 disposals, 6 tackles) were also strong for the home-team, while Ben Rutten held a limp-looking Matthew Pavlich to a solitary goal after he dismantled Geelong in the previous week’s elimination final.
For the visitors, David Mundy (30 disposals) could hold his head high, while Michael Walters and Chris Mayne booted 3 goals each to add some potency to the forward-line.
Fremantle burst out of the blocks looking ominous, booting 4 goals to 1 in a first quarter that was nearly as damaging as their opening the week prior. Adelaide did their best to reel it in in the second quarter, breaking the strangehold of pressure that was their undoing in their qualifier against the Sydney Swans. Ross Lyon’s Dockers team had clearly learned from that and were trying to replicate it, but as Adelaide started to click, Fremantle couldn’t keep up.
With Ryan Crowley keeping Crows’ star Patrick Dangerfield very quiet, it was left to Thompson to lead the way and they managed to find time and space they hadn’t previously. Fremantle will rue a patch before half-time where Adelaide booted two quick goals – one to Porplyzia and one to Walker after the siren, to bring it back to 13 points at the half.
Crows Take Over
The third quarter belonged to Adelaide as Walker took the game by the scruff and made the Fremantle defence look foolish. Alex Silvagni, in key defender Luke McPharlin’s absence, was clearly not up to the task as Walker ran rampant, booting two quick goals and providing one of the plays of the night when he evaded three Fremantle defenders and gifted fellow forward Kurt Tippett one of the easiest goals of his career.
Coach Ross Lyon defended his decision not to take Silvagni off Walker on SEN after the game, saying with the pressure lagging upfield it wouldn’t have made a difference.
The Walker show was not helped by two costly misses by Fremantle midfielder Stephen Hill when the game was at its tightest – first cannoning a running shot into the post and then missing a fairly elementary set shot from 25m after a free kick.
Adelaide took the lead courtesy of Matthew Wright just before three-quarter time, their first lead of the night. The Dockers seemed to snap back into reality booting the first two goals of the last as Fremantle surged, but Adelaide were able to hold on to ensure that talk of straight sets would remain a mere passing thought. Walker provided the icing on the cake with the Crows’ last two goals of the game, including the sealer with three minutes left on the clock.
The win was slightly soured by injuries to forward Jared Petrenko, left in tears after a shoulder injury when the game was nearly over, and defender Sam Shaw, who injured his hamstring and was subbed out early in the match.
This leaves the Crows with headaches coming into next weeks preliminary final, but for now they can do naught but breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy a hard fought comeback and well-deserved victory.
Fremantle’s 2012 campaign is over and their coach summarised the night for the men in purple perfectly:
That’s footy. If you don’t play for four quarters you miss your opportunity.
Adelaide: Walker 5, Porplyzia 3, Dangerfield, Wright, Tippett, Vince
Fremantle: Mayne 3, Walters 3, Ballantyne, Ibbotson, Fyfe, Suban, Pavlich
Adelaide: Walker, Rutten, Thompson, Porplyzia, Vince, Van Berlo, Smith
Fremantle: Mundy, Johnson, Walters, Barlow, Duffield, Mayne, Sandilands