The last time these two teams met an incredible upset took place. Clayton Oliver was unstoppable and Tex Walker sealed the game for a young Crows team that beat the previously unbeatable Demons. What a story, could we have a repeat on our hands? Well, firstly, with no crowd in attendance the atmosphere was never going to measure up.

Steven May was a late out for the Demons, which could’ve thrown a spanner in the works.

The Demons were also concerned about settling their forward line which has been widely regarded as the area they need to work on the most.

Boy, did the Crows start this game hard. It’s not that Melbourne were off, I actually thought they were in decent enough form, it was just Adelaide were that switched on. They came to play and emulate their victory from round 13. I hate to say it, but their early inaccuracy cost them dearly. After the first 15 minutes of this game, the Crows should have been at least 20 points in front, instead of the actual six points. Keays and Sloane were cracking in hard in the middle. Laird was providing run, and Paul Seedsman was sneaky and brought his own bloody football to the ground. Someone check if that is legal!

It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Demons. As mentioned, they weathered the early storm and found themselves in front in the first quarter. Ben Brown was finding the footy, and big Max Gawn was establishing himself over his young opponents. Christian Salem was staking one final claim for that All Australian spot, and Ed Langdon would eventually remember he was actually supposed to be manning Seedsman.

It might be controversial, but I think Crows fans have a right to be frustrated by some of the early umpiring decisions in this game. There were some stinkers and about 90% of them were going one way. In saying that, they had their chances for those decisions not to matter and missed them. Bad kicking is bad football. And Melbourne is far too good of a side to be leaving an opening the size of grand canyon for them to walk through and take the match away from you. Ultimately, the Demons made it so those decisions weren’t a big factor at all, but the Crows fans deserve to know that neutral viewers saw it too. Just like the shooter on the grassy knoll, “it was actually the umpires”.

In the end, the intensity of the first half was weighing on the Crows. They made some simple mistakes which the Demons capitalised on, putting some distance between the two teams on the scoreboard. It really was a disservice to the Crows efforts, despite some fight late in the quarter which made the game more competitive.

The Crows must’ve been drinking some of Michael Jordans secret stuff during half time as they came out with serious intent form the main break. It was eerily similar to the start of the match. The Demons didn’t drop off, the Crows simply lifted. They pushed hard and really threatened Melbourne with another upset. They closed the margin to three points in about five minutes of scintillating football.

The third quarter was the sort of football you pay to see. Centre clearances, end to end footy. Strong marks by forwards. Accurate kicking for goal!

Now let’s get into the stuff that mattered…

 

 

The Best Stuff

 

Ben Keays

Just an outright warrior. Now, I am a sucker for a hero on a losing side. Touk Miller, Jack Steele, William Wallace, Lebron James, you get it.

Keays was a hero out there in this match, and not in the sarcastic way Aussies say that phrase most of the time. He copped a rough holding-the-ball call in the second quarter. What even is prior opportunity anymore?

Yes, Keays is caught often enough and sometimes tries to do a bit too much with the footy. But his effort and endeavour cannot be questioned. The guy was lining up against the likes of Oliver & Petracca who were getting fed by Max Gawn. It was always going to be a battle and Keays deserve all the plaudits for fighting it to the bitter end. He more than matched his opponents I would say was a flip of the coin with Seedsman as the Crows best player.

 

Clayton Oliver

Just a marvellous display from Oliver. Won clearances, pushed hard in both attack and defence. He really did everything bar kick a goal. It was actually a step down in form his last performance against the Crows where he played one of the greatest individual games you will see. I suppose the Crows would arguably have taken Oliver’s impact in this game given they know first-hand what he is capable of. Crazy!

 

Paul Seedsman V Ed Langdon

I had to check with my fellow mongrels for former wingmen match-ups worthy of comparison to this Titanic battle on the outer wing of the MCG. They kindly directed me to two. Isaac Smith Vs Andrew Gaff in the 2015 Grand Final and then Kieran Jack Vs Liam Picken in the 2016 decider as well.  Fitting that both comparisons came from the grandest stage of all. I felt truly robbed that there wasn’t a packed southern stand to watch such a classic match-up take place.

Seedsman is so good in traffic for a wingmen. Just as hard at it as any inside bull and has clean hands. A true asset to have. The unfortunate thing for him is that you could argue that Langdon is just as good.

Langdon had the big win early in the third quarter in the one on one between the two of them. The ball went out to outer side, hit the deck and became a battle of wills. Langdon would fall behind Seedsman and manage to fight through him to collect the footy and drive it inside 50 for Petracca’s second goal and to steady the Demons from the early Crows onslaught.

Langdon did fight back hard and had the better defensive game of the two players, but he was no match for Seedsman’s offensive output and thus, the Crow got the win.

 

Bayley Fritsch

I foolishly mentioned to the other Mongrel Writers that I could make the case that Lincoln McCarthy was the second best small forward in the league behind Toby Greene. I firmly believe Charlie Cameron and, to a much larger extent, Bayley Fritsch got word of this statement and duly responded by putting me back in my box.

Fritsch didn’t even enter the game with his first touch of the footy until the second quarter. He must like a challenge. He was also unlucky not to be paid a mark in the second quarter when he clearly held it for long enough.

He benefitted in the third quarter from accidentally taking out his opponent and getting a free goal a minute later. The commentators can complain about Adelaide being a player down, but you don’t stop the game unless the ball is in the direct vicinity of an injured player who cannot continue or if a stretcher is called. That’s it. Not just because one guy is being helped off on the other side of the field. You actually would’ve classed it as even as Fritsch himself was hurt but did the forward special and found an extra step when he sniffed a goal. At-a-boy.

The real show came in the final minutes for Fritsch.

 

Christian Salem

Just an elite ball user and also had some good defensive efforts in this game. Not a player I am very big on, but this performance has definitely won me over. Particularly early and when the Crows looked like solidifying the momentum, Salem was always there, cleaning up in defence and driving the ball forward for Melbourne. As stated earlier he did absolutely no harm to his All-Australian chances in this game.

 

The Good Stuff

 

Max Gawn

A very solid game from Gawn in this one. Very mobile and looking like he is building to a very big finals series. He just looks like he’s really fit and moving well, which is what you want from your best players two weeks out from finals. No injury scares and he was getting his hands to the ball in plenty of contests. Those marks will start clunking soon and he will decimate some poor side in September. I just hope it’s not mine.  And that is without mentioning arguably the best number two ruckman in the competition in Jackson. What a spoil of riches the demons have in their tall stocks.

 

Darcy Fogarty

I love watching Fogarty play. It’s a simple as that.

He is an elite kick of the footy, as shown by his perfect pass in the first quarter. Perfectly weighted delivery

He really stepped up in the third quarter. Fogarty was beaten by Petty under a long ball, but responded by taking a fantastic, contested mark, on the next entry. You get ups and downs with young key forwards but Fogarty’s ups are starting to seriously outweigh his downs.

 

Brown V Butts

This was another great match-up.

Brown got on top early and I think that it was partly because of his huge work ethic. Running Butts up and down the ground and not letting him rest at all. It showed when Butts couldn’t go with him in a couple of early contests. Brown had two early goals and looked the most dangerous forward on the field. He was unlucky not to have a third if an “umpires call” had have gone his way.

Butts would go quietly into the good night though. Butts won crucial contests in the third quarter. And started to really get on top of Brown. This became evident when he started taking the attacking position off the Demons spearhead during the last quarter.

Brown started fast but the points clearly went to Butts.

Brown works bloody hard so it was a great effort by Butts to go with him all game.

 

Christian Petracca

You would’ve thought Petracca was at a training session in this game. He did not have the impact he could’ve had, but he looked head and shoulders above every player out there, on the field. Everything came easy to him and it was as if he was just warming up and thinking “I’ve got bigger fish to fry” while his teammates fought hard to get the job done. Now, he wasn’t skirting packs or anything, Petracca was just the cleanest player on the field. Imagine the furthest distance you can. That’s how far above in class, Petracca was out there. Enough said. He did enough to hurt the Crows without having to put in absolutely everything he had. He is arguably the best player in the competition and who can blame him.

 

The Other Stuff

 

Action Jackson

Someone Tell Luke Jackson that he’s meant to be a ruckman, and that ruckman don’t do deft 25 metre kicks on the outside of their foot to hit up the leading forward. That’s classy mid sort of stuff.

 

Injuries are Crap

Really felt for Elliot Himmelberg. I really thought he looked threatening out there and was getting his hands on the footy. Hopefully, he can get himself cherry ripe for a big crack next year.

 

No Do-Overs

I’m sure Tom Doedee would want that dropped chest mark in defensive 50 back. All on his own with time to spare and just muffed it. A mark he would comfortably take 99 times out of 100. To top it off, later in the quarter he had a brilliant, contested intercept mark taken off by a very minor free kick that went to teammate! Very rough.

 

David Mackay, what were you thinking?

You have to question the decision making of David Mackay through on passage of play in the third quarter. About two thirds through the quarter, the Crows take the ball forward. As the ball is being delivered inside 50 to Fogarty (who already has two goals in the quarter) on a strong lead, Mackay floats in front and takes the mark 35 metres out. You can forgive that. He’s a senior player and can make that call. But after you do that… after you cut in front of the big forward on the lead and steal his mark, you have to kick the goal. Mackay didn’t even have a shot. He passed it deep into the pocket, on a ridiculous angle, to Lachie Sholl. Sholl duly missed the difficult set shot and you really have to question what the hell Mackay was thinking in every step of the play. The Crows were down by ten points at that time. Fogarty takes that mark and kicks a goal and it lifts the team and who knows what happens. You do silly stuff like what Mackay did and you spend the next 10 minutes of play scoreless while Melbourne kicks two goals and effectively “ices” the game.

That’s not to say that Mackay was all bad in this game. Seemingly knowing he had to make up for the earlier brainfart mere minutes later he courageously camped himself under a highball in defensive 50.

 

The Wrap

 

Melbourne

Melbourne did what they had to do and set up a tantalising clash with Geelong next week at GMHBA Stadium. It is a game for top spot (yes, there is percentage considerations if both the Cats and Power win, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it). The Demons destiny is firmly in their own hands and with some big names likely to return, everything could be coming up Milhouse for them at the right time.

 

Adelaide

Another honourable loss for the Crows. There is plenty to e happy about though. Fogarty, Butts, Kelly, Keays, Seedsman, McAdam and McHenry have the makings of an elite set-up. It wasn’t Thrillthorpe’s best day but has definitely shown enough in previous outings I’ve covered. The focus now shifts to finishing the season off in the best possible way with a win against North Melbourne, hopefully in front of some fans next week. Send of some departing players with an effort befitting their efforts for the club over the journey.