Adelaide v Western Bulldogs - The Good, Bad and Ugly

On a horrible night in Adelaide, the home team did what was required to get back on the winners list, defeating a disappointing Western Bulldogs outfit by a comfortable 37 points.

There was no sign of a post-showdown hangover tonight, nor was there a feeling of a team missing several of its stars.

Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.

 

THE GOOD

Rory Laird

It’s getting a little monotonous putting this guy in this category every time I see the Crows play, but here he is again.

Laird just keeps getting the ball. He had nine touches in the first quarter, helping the Crows set up a great lead which was never really threatened. I have no doubt that Laird could’ve topped 30 touches again had he wanted to. One moment in particular impressed me tonight.

Late in the third quarter, Laird chased the ball to the boundary. Many in his position would’ve gathered the ball and fired off a meaningless handball. It would’ve padded his stats and added one more to his league-leading totals. He didn’t do that, however. He did the team thing, and he gathered the ball and held it as opponents rushed in at him. He took it over the line and got the stoppage.

He won’t get a stat for that, and I doubt it will be spoken about, but it’s the little things, all put together, that turn into big things. Laird had a chance to do something that would’ve looked good for himself. He could've added a number to his total and pushed for 30. Instead, he did the team thing – a little thing, and to me, it was something that says a lot more about his care for his team performance than a 30-disposal game would have.

Eddie Betts’ kicking for goal

Wet night, slippery ball, and not many goals being scored – enter Eddie Betts.

I didn’t think Eddie was dominant by any stretch, but geez he knows how to finish a play off. His first goal was a ripper on the run from the left forward pocket, but it was his second that I loved most.

On an angle, but not so acute that he was up against the boundary, he casually went back and threaded a beautiful drop punt that did not even begin to deviate.

Eddie knows Eddie, and Eddie knows Adelaide Oval. The way he kicked for goal tonight, on a night when the Western Bulldogs could not buy a goal, was worth the price of admission.

Hugh Greenwood

In the absence of Sloane and the Crouch brothers, Greenwood has really elevated his game.

He wins the hard ball, puts his head over it, and is a physical presence at stoppages. He was second only to Jack Macrae for tackles, registering 11 for the night as both the Crows and Dogs broke the team records for tackles.

He has more than held the fort in the absence of the stars, combining with Cam Ellis-Yeoman and Bryce Gibbs to have 26 clearances between them.

Bryce Gibbs

It’s difficult to remember him having more impact in the midfield. Yeah he got numbers at the Blues, but he didn't hurt teams as much as this. Amazingly, this could be a career-best season for him.

He was excellent tonight yet again, being one of only a few players on the ground able to buy time with the wet ball. Gibbs only travelled at 42% efficiency tonight, but 17 of his 26 touches were contested. Make no mistake – when he was at Carlton, many criticised him and Mark Murphy for not being hard enough. Gibbs has put that to bed this season.

Jack Macrae

He is still the man to watch in terms of disposals, and he has been on an absolute tear the last six or so weeks.

But it wasn’t just his disposals that caught the eye tonight. He also led the game in tackles, proving that he is not a player that only runs one way.

Macrae was able to get handballs off in situations where he simply should’ve been pinned with the ball. He started fast and didn’t let up for the entire game. He has been a credit to the Bullies this year, and this week was no exception.

 

THE BAD

The weather

Well, there’s not much we can do about it. We’re at least a couple of years away from being able to control the weather, but we’re working on it, I swear!

Seriously, though, the poor weather turned the game from a spectacle to a slog. The Crows adapted best and made the most of the poor conditions. The Bulldogs kept trying to handball once too often and Adelaide would pounce. They played the conditions best and served the win.

Mitch Wallis

This might be a bit unfair, but I thought this game was made for him to excel, but he was just around the mark without imposing himself at all.

He finished with 20 touches and ten tackles – numbers you can’t sneeze at, but at no stage did he have a significant impact on the game. I was waiting for him to stand up in the middle and start extracting the ball, but it never happened. Though he had 14 contested possessions, he only had one clearance.

The Dogs need players like Wallis to really stand up if they’re going to beat more than the cellar dwellers. I really think he got most of his touches once the sting was out of the game. I hope he’s able to make an impact soon.

Low contact free kicks

This was lamented by the commentators, so I won’t harp on it, but slight contact that is accentuated by players does not deserve a free kick.

This rule was introduced to stop players sliding into opponents’ legs in order to avoid a Gary Rohan-like injury. Neither of the free kicks paid for this in front of goal looked even remotely likely to cause an injury. The umps were a bit jumpy on it, but at least it was one to either team.

Lukas Webb was able to convert for the Dogs, but Gibbs couldn’t for Adelaide.

 

THE UGLY

The Dogs’ kicking for goal.

I was hoping the commentators would shut up and not let the cat out of the bag, but half way through the third quarter, there they were talking about the Dogs’ lowest goal totals of all time.

At three quarter time, we had a game where one team had taken 12 shots, and the other had taken 11. Close game, right? Nup. The Bulldogs had just one goal, whilst the Crows had bagged six. The Dogs just couldn’t convert.

Hunter’s kicking for goal was atrocious (one behind and one out on the full), Johannisen kicked 0.3 and could’ve made a real difference, especially when he was allowed to go forward, isolated on Kyle Hartigan, but he did not deliver.

The Saints have been smacked for their inaccuracy, and yes, the elements were against the Dogs tonight, but they were also against the Crows. Somehow, Adelaide managed to kick nine goals – why couldn’t the Dogs?

Bad kicking, is bad football, but to fit this category, ugly kicking is ugly football.

 

OTHER BITS

While we all celebrate the amazing Eddie Betts goal from 50 out on the boundary, I hope a few people slapped Richard Douglas on the back for the smother that caused the ball to ricochet to him. Little things create big things.

The impact of the rain was so evident. My man Doedee went the double fist early in the game, even though intercept marking is his stock in trade.

Tough job for Sam Gibson first week in, having to go to Jack Macrae, who is probably THE in form ball-winner in the game at the moment.

When the heat was on early, I started wondering who would be the players to stand up and show those clean hands and nice touch to separate themselves from the pack. They were all Crows in the first. Laird, Seedsman, Betts and Gibbs all looked a cut above in the conditions.

The falcon Ed Richards copped is now neck and neck with the one his teammate Lin Jong received a few weeks back. It was nasty… but at least the Bullies have a bit of a monopoly on falcon of the year so far.

Lynch’s goal in the first was the result of hard work from the Crows, nothing more. They tackled, contested and were determined to split contests until they won one. Fogarty crashed into Cordy as he kicked, the ball spilled to Lynch and he kicked beautifully from 30 out.

Zaine Cordy went out of the game, but was resolute in defence in the first half. He read the play well, and was able to repel several Crow attacks. The Dogs may have been in big trouble without him.

Sauce Jacobs may want his marking contest against Jack Macrae in the second quarter over again. The clean mark in front is testament to how hard Macrae is willing to work. Most smaller men would’ve conceded and just been happy to bring it to ground. Not Macrae.

Johannnisen really should’ve converted one of his three shots. He had opportunities to bring the Dogs closer when the heat was on. One of them, he went on his right foot, trying a checkside - needed to use his left on the run.

The race between Johannisen and Laird down the wing was excellent. Laird busted a gut to keep up with the quicker JJ, but Johannisen’s centring kick off the ground and into the path of Josh Dunkley was excellent.

So Dunkley had a five metre lead on Jake Kelly at the time Johannisen soccered the ball into his path. Jake Kelly got to the ball at the same time Dunkley did. The Crows held it up and what looked to be a golden scoring opportunity went begging. Great determination by the Crow defenders.

At halftime, Laird had the most touches in the game. The next seven best were Bulldogs.

Poholke’s goal to begin the third was thanks to Greenwood, who just stood in a tackle and delivered to him.

Decent game from Luke Dahlhaus. He was one to apply the sort of forward pressure inside 50 that the Dogs needed. I think this was a difference in the game. The Crows had plenty who were doing that sort of thing, but I was able to isolate Dahlhaus when he was doing it as he stood out. It means that there must’ve been plenty who weren’t.

Not sure if he’ll get many plaudits, but I really liked the way David McKay went about it all game. Had a couple of big wins by backing himself and running straight at the ball.

Ellis-Yeoman takes a while to get going, but his impact on contests after half time was noticeable.

A few times, I heard Seedsman’s name mentioned as a possible best on ground. I thought he was good, but really did just kick for distance quite a few times. I know that’s his job but I preferred the games of Laird, Gibbs, Talia and Betts to his tonight. I reckon Seed needed to hit the scoreboard a bit tonight.

Pretty difficult to fault Talia for his performance tonight. We had him as the full back in our rolling All Australian team after Round 7. Unless something drastic happens, I reckon he may retain his spot.

Caleb Daniel did bugger all in the first half. You’d think that these conditions would be right up his alley.

The Bont… hmmm, he was serviceable, but if you’re just looking at the stats you may be led to believe he was more influential than he was. 28 touches, seven tackles, 18 contested touches and nine clearances, yet I didn’t feel he had a significant impact.

 

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