R16 – Adelaide v GWS – The Mongrel Review



It was slippery conditions at the Adelaide Oval as the Crows and Greater Western Sydney clashed with both teams eager to turn around recent bad form. However, it was the Crows who were able to give their fans some long-overdue joy, as they owned the game for the majority of the match and took their fifth win of the season. 

Adelaide had all of the ball early, and were ready to give GWS a fight but were unable to make the most of their forward 50 entries, kicking six behinds for the first term. A few chances were all GWS needed, and after a leaping mark and goal to Jake Riccardi the Giants appeared settled and took a one-goal lead into quarter-time. 

The Giants threatened to gain control of the game with the first two goals of the second, but the Crows were able to grit their teeth and started winning the contested ball to drag the game back into an arm wrestle. With confidence growing, they started to run and went on to pile on the next seven goals with the GWS defence unable to stop the shots on goal once the ball was in. 

The Crows remained on top in the third as they continued to rack up the possessions, but much like in the first quarter, they couldn’t seem to get the reward on the scoreboard. GWS were slightly better at moving the ball down to their end of the ground, but they too couldn’t make the most of opportunities. It wasn’t until late in the third as the Crows started fatiguing that GWS finally slotted a couple of goals to bring the margin back to a manageable 23 points. 

Crows fans would have been nervous with the recent memory of the collapse against Sydney, but the side seemed to have taken a few lessons from that game. The Giants kept threatening to steal the game, but the Crows stood strong and refused to stop attacking. Each Giants goal was answered by one from the Crows until a Billy Dowling goal put the game beyond reach. Two late goals did little for the Giants but make the final margin a flattering 16 points. 


Super Second Term

Most of the damage was done in the second term for the Crows, as they were finally the ones enjoying a surge in momentum rather than being the ones having a string of goals kicked against them. 

It was great determination by the Crows to not let GWS’ early momentum rattle them, as the they stuck strong with their game plan and were able to grind the game back to a halt for several minutes before seizing their chance to get on a run. They looked much more like the team from last year, as they ran the ball through the middle and were making all their opportunities count with 19 of their 30 inside 50s turning into scoring shots for the first half. Most telling was how they took seven contested marks, six of those were inside 50 for a conversion into five goals and one miss. 

The second quarter was one of the best for the Crows all year, and is a reminder to the competition of just how good this side can be. 


The Devasting Duo

Izak Rankine was instrumental in setting up the Crows for the win. His first half was miles better than anyone else’s, with 21 disposals to half-time. When he couldn’t find the goals himself, he was setting them up for teammates but was still able to kick two in the second term to go with five clearances.

It’s taken some time, but it seems Rankine is starting to feel more at home in his role. The defensive side of his game could still use a little work, but he’s starting to look more like his devasting best with his clearance work improving, and his ability to move the footy forward quickly iften leaving his opponents lookimg flat-footed. 

Rankine was tagged in the third and didn’t have the same effect in the second half but it meant that Jordan Dawson was now free, instead. With only seven touches to his name in the first half, the Crows’ captain needed to lift, and he did so in the best way. His third quarter was particularly brilliant as he collected ten possessions but also had the captain’s sense to put himself down back late in the term when fatigue was setting in and the defence needed an extra hand. His clearance work in the fourth also went a long way towards putting the game out of GWS’ reach. 

They were well supported by Mitch Hinge, who collected 31 disposals clearing up down back and Sam Berry, who was one of the strongest when defending and had 21 disposals, seven tackles, and five clearances. Ben Keays also had one of his best games for the year with 10 score involvements, 20 pressure acts, eight tackles, and two goals. 


GWS has a problem

Even with an extra man back they couldn’t seem to find any way to stop the Crows when the ball was coming in. The Crows’ inaccuracy was more a fault of their own than anything GWS were doing, and at times, the defenders looked lost as to who their direct opponent was. They allowed far too much space for Crows players to run into and the loss of Sam Taylor was heavily felt, with Leek Aleer unable to stand up against the big bodies of Darcy Fogarty and Taylor Walker. 

Their poor night was typified by the Walker goal in the second when no one was on the line, allowing Walker to causally kick around his body for a low goal that could have been and should have been touched on the goal line . 

And with a struggling defence, of course, came a struggling offence. The orange tsunami was never really given a chance to get rolling with the Crows able to lock down exit routes, which led to another low score for the Giants. It was their eighth game in a row scoring under 80 points for a win-loss ratio of two and six. 

Lachie Whitfield fought hard for the Giants, racking up a massive 41 disposals, as did Tom Green with 38, but they needed a lot more support.  

The Giants need to come up with another idea to source goals because the tsunami seems to have well and truly dried up. 


It should’ve never been in doubt

Once again, poor goal accuracy could have cost the Crows. They should have had the game all tied up by half time, but instead, they kicked 9.9 and left the door open for the much more accurate GWS who had kicked five straight. In the end they only kicked one more goal than the Giants. 

Still, the Crows showed plenty of composure, and even with the late charge by the Giants, it didn’t feel like they were going to let the game slip. Admittedly, they have been better at their goal accuracy in recent times after having struggled with it last year so perhaps this can be forgiven as a result of the conditions. 


Cut him some slack

It hasn’t been the best season for Josh Rachelle, but watching him in this game, you can’t deny the effort. Several times, he looked dangerous near the goals but just couldn’t seem to find the composure he needed and ended the night with 2.4. His 18 disposals also came with only 39% kicking efficiency. Still, he had nine score involvements with over 500 meters gained and played an important role in the win.

There has been some criticism of Rachele for his apparent step back this year, but it’s important to remember he’s still only 21 and is a few years away yet from his best.  He’s had a lot of extra pressure put on his shoulders this year with Rankine’s ’s move to the midfield and Walker looking to be nearing the end of his career, so it’s not unexpected that he hasn’t been able to play the dazzling small forward role he’s been used to. Give him a bit more time and there’s little doubt he’ll return to star status. 


Short but sweet

After a good stint in the SANFL, Zak Taylor was brought in for his first game at AFL and was able to catch a few eyes. He came on in the fourth for immediate impact with a good mark and some run and was a good news story for the night. He had four disposals for two inside 50s and 123 meters gained in his short debut. 


Up next for the Crows, they travel up to the Gabba to take on the rampaging Lions. Brisbane are looking fierce at the moment, with a four-game win streak and are a much better side than the one involved in the draw in Round Nine. The Lions should take out the points at home and set themselves up nicely going into the final push for finals. 

GWS have an even harder task coming up against Carlton at home. The Blues have won four of the last five match ups between these sides, including both games at Engie Stadium and unless the Giants can fix up their scoring issues quickly, it’s looking like another loss.