Fremantle v Adelaide - The Good, Bad and Ugly

The top four aspirations of the Adelaide Crows are in tatters and the finals hopes for Fremantle remain alive after a gutsy win by three points at Optus Stadium.

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

THE GOOD

Adam Cerra

Rising Star nomination incoming.

A high-quality, all round game from Cerra today. He did the things that a seasoned veteran is relied upon to do, and he did them over and over again. And he's just a kid!

His contested mark at half back early in the last quarter was an absolute pearler, and the way he ran the game out would have Freo fans excited about the future. He finished with a career-high 30 touches, but it was his eight deliveries inside 50 that stood out. He worked hard all over the ground, and had plenty in the tank to be the number one player on the ground for i50s.

He was part of five scoring involvements and had eight intercept possessions as well. He did it all today.

Joel Hamling

Got the better of Tex Walker today, but you’d expect Tex to be a little down after being out for a few weeks. No excuse though, as the way Hamling attacked the ball and the man today was first class.

Two of his nine intercept possessions were marks, and he had 15 one percenters today, meaning that he was consistently niggling, harassing, spoiling and making room for his teammates. Hamling has been a little unsung this season, with Alex Pearce getting a fair bit of love from the football world. Today, Hamling gets a bit of that love, but he’ll still have to share it.

Connor Blakely

And I’m sure Hamling won’t mind sharing the love of the football public with teammate, Connor Blakely.

This ain’t Blakely’s first rodeo with great performances. He had a blinder earlier in the season against the Bombers, but this one was just as good. He was desperate and threw himself into the contest at every opportunity.

I loved his run, and his willingness to chase hard, working both ways to ensure the Crows didn’t get easy forward entries. It’s funny – I watched St Kilda yesterday, and Blakely along with Hamling and Pearce were doing all the things the St Kilda backline weren’t doing. They worked for each other, backed each other up, and had faith that their teammate would do what was best for the team.

I know Freo are a different team in WA compared to the team that plays elsewhere, but those sorts of qualities in defenders are transferable wherever you play.

Bryce Gibbs

I’m getting a bit sick of writing this bloke’s name when I review games. He was one of two (see below) stand outs for Adelaide in this one.

Gibbs had 13 of his 28 touches under direct pressure today, and though he didn’t have the big clearance numbers he had last week, his game was still good enough to see him in an equal share of the lead for his team.

The Crows brought him in to be the icing on the cake. Unfortunately, he has had to be most ingredients this season, and it looks as though they’re going to need him to do a bit more if the Crows are going to pull themselves out of this hole.

Ed Langdon

There’s bloody Langdons everywhere in this league at the moment, and they’re all playing good footy.

Ed was the Langdon to star today. He had 25 touches, which was great, but his run and relentless pressure caused huge headaches for the Crows.

Key moment of the game for me saw Langdon refusing to give up in a two on one situation on the wing in the first quarter. He was opposed to Rory Atkins and Lachie Murphy. As the two Crows bumbled around the ball, Langdon hunted them. He ran past an anaemic shepherd to force a hurried kick out of bounds on the full and get the turnover for his club.

I’m not sure he gets a stat for that, but it’s something the coach will look at and smile. I saw Ross Lyon smile today… I know he smiles.

Tom Doedee’s chase down of Michael Walters

This is close to the best defensive act I have seen all year. Walters is a jet, albeit a hot-tempered and sometimes silly jet. If he gets the ball and runs inside 50, and you’re trailing by ten metres, you’d most likely give up.

That’s because you’re you, and Tom Doedee is Tom Doedee.

I am a huge wrap for Doedee, and the effort to chase down Walters, make the tackle and affect the kick was spectacular. Those who have been reading our page this season would know all about my Doedee love, and it was reinforced today with that effort against Walters.

I don’t care if the decision that Walters ran too far. Doedee made him run too far. The Crows could do with a few more with the heart of Tom Doedee.

Who’s out? It doesn’t matter who’s out!

Fyfe out. Sandilands out. McCarthy out…. It doesn’t matter who’s not playing – it matters who is.

Lachie Neale was still there, churning out 23 handballs. Luke Ryan was there, intercepting everything. Nathan Wilson was there, hitting the kicks no one else would take. And Brennan Cox was there, banging home four goals to lead the game.

When you play with heart, and play to your strengths, even having one of the best players in the game riding the pine doesn’t matter as much as it could. Great win by the Dockers, without throwing the towel in and pointing to injuries.

THE BAD

This Crows season

I’m still a believer. I’m not wavering just yet, but like that dude in the meme I see about fifteen times a day, I am starting to have my head turned to look at a few others.

This is not the season the Crows envisioned. An off-season full of drama, mind-bending camps, player departures and an angry captain were seemingly put to rest early with some solid wins, but three losses in a row have really thrown the Crows back into the struggle at the bottom end of the eight.

If I’d told you at the start of the year that the Crows would be 6-6 at this stage, you may have thought I was crazy, but losses to Melbourne, GWS and now Fremantle have Adelaide at the point where questions are being asked.

With the Hawks at the MCG looming, the Crows are looking in the mirror and seeing the possibility of being 6-7 looking them right in the eye. And they need to bounce back.

Cam Ellis-Yolman

Everyone is entitled to a poor game here and there, and this was the game for Ellis-Yolman.

I’ve heard all year about his big body, and how he stands up in contact and is a big-bodied mid… all the positives, and he has had a bit of a free ride when he went missing because the positive outweighed the negative

But that wasn’t the case today. The Crows needed grunt, and both he and Hugh Greenwood were supposed to provide that in the middle. They had 25 touches between them, with Ellis-Yolman providing only 11. Youve got a big body - use it! Not good enough.

Four misses in two minutes

Myles Poholke kicked after the siren to draw the Crows within three points, but during the last quarter, the Crows had four opportunities in approximately two minutes to hit the scoreboard. They did… in single digits.

Tex Walker chiselled a pass to Betts at 40 metres, who missed. Then Darcy Fogarty bombed a behind from 50. The Crows went forward again with Walker and McKay using the old one-two to see Walker miss, and then Greenwood botched a shot as well. It was two minutes where one of those shots may have changed the trajectory of the game. Costly misses…

THE UGLY

Michael Walters’ brain fade

Speaking of costly, Michael Walters got out of jail in the last quarter, after punching Jake Kelly square in the guts to give away a free kick, then a 50 metre penalty for headbutting, with the ball out of bounds in the Dockers’ forward pocket and 2.10 left on the clock.

What was he thinking? He engaged in a great tussle early on with Luke Brown, and had an equal amount of good and bad moments throughout the game. This was his worst.

To be honest, there was a small part of me that wanted to see Fremantle lose based on the idiocy of Walters’ actions late. Completely uncalled for, completely undisciplined, and completely stupid acts. Had they cost his team more than a free kick and a 50 metre penalty, finishing the game on the bench would not have been punishment enough.

I’ll tell you something that more than evens things out, however. Walters had five direct goal assists today. That is elite. And that is the kind of output that makes Ross Lyon, Fremantle Footy Club, and his teammates accept behaviour like the stuff above. Five goal assists… wow.

OTHER BITS

The first quarter was probably the worst quarter of footy I’ve seen Rory Atkins play this season. Not his best day overall, either.

Loved the early wins from Hamling on Walker. His timing was exceptional.

Luke Brown v Michael Walters was a genuine highlight. Brown won most contests in the first, but Walters’ touches were all so important.

Old mate Ballantyne was up and about early but faded late in the game. I just don’t think he has anything near the tank he once did. If you were playing on him, and assuming you’re pretty fit unlike myself, you’d be pretty eager to make him work defensively.

Nice work today by Michael Apeness. Only ten touches, but I felt he was important at times where the Dockers needed a big bloke to get hands on the footy in aerial contests.

It’s not often you see Daniel Talia beaten, but I think Brennan Cox got the better of him when he played on him today.

Tom Sheridan’s goal from the boundary was an absolute ripper. How many times out of ten does he kick that one?

Now I want to talk about Brandon Matera’s tackle on Atkins for a second. There are those that are calling for the “tackle and hold” rule to become more prevalent in junior footy, and maybe even in all forms of the game eventually. You see, you can’t tackle them to the ground, or sling them… they might bump their heads. So, you tackle and hold, like Matera did to Atkins. The problem is, Matera swung him a full 360 degrees and there was no whistle. Atkins then was able to dispose of the ball. This is EXACTLY why players tackle the other to the ground hard. Because they prevent the opponent from getting a kick away. If the umps aren’t going to pay holding the ball when a guy gets turned 360 degrees, then players have to be allowed to sling their opponents to the ground. Allowing them to get a disposal away is the worst possible option for a tackler.

Ugh… I hate compensating for players who hit their damn heads on the ground. Sorry for the rant.

Terrible decision against Tex Walker to Hamling for a push in the dying seconds of the first. It was good body work, and Hamling was the player in the match up that took his eyes off the ball for a moment. Tex was stiff.

Lachie Neale always looks to have time when he gets it. Always manages to get a handball away. That’s what makes Bryce Gibbs’ tackle and holding the ball free kick in the second so impressive.

I hate seeing two players stop, prop and neither go for the ball. I’m not sure whether it is the rise of tackling, or the fear of collecting someone in the head, but I watched both Alex Pearce and Rory Atkins stop and look at each other as the ball bounced between them. I’d hate to see this become the norm in our game.

Amazing kick under pressure from Nathan Wilson, hitting Lachie Neale on the chest at half back as the defence closed in. It was a really gutsy kick after doubling back and chancing his foot speed against the Crows. It resulted in a Tucker shot for goal. It was a miss, but the work of Wilson was outstanding to move the ball into an attacking space.

I had a feeling that had Eddie Betts snapped a goal instead of hitting the post in the second quarter, we may have seen the Crows a little more confident going into half time.

I’d like to see stats for how many times Josh Jenkins holds up the play when he marks. He did it today and kicked the ball out on the full. It felt as though that changed the momentum a little.

What a kick from Cerra to Cox as he backpedalled into the goal square early in the third. Just a confident kick by Cerra; a young bloke starting to really trust his skills.

Hamling’s spoil on Walker in the third, getting his fist on the sizzling pass from Richie Douglas, was picture perfect. The pass was excellent and it took precise timing to get a fist on it. Beautiful stuff from Hamling.

How the hell did Brandon Matera get open enough to have three bounces along the wing and half forward? His kick to Cox in the goal square was the right decision. Glad he didn’t have a ping.

Looping handballs in the forward line just don’t work. The Crows tried to beat pressure with these handballs and the Dockers just multiplied the pressure on each recipient.

Two ripping tackles by Bailey Banfield in the third quarter. Two consecutive plays saw him nail both Milera and McKay in perfect tackles.

Alex Pearce’s kicking is the only thing that let him down today.

Lachie Neale was a little lucky to get away with the push on Matt Crouch at half forward. Definite hand in the back. Nonetheless, his kick to Sheridan in the goal square was a ripper. How many goals did the Dockers kick from the square today? Good way to make sure of them, I guess…

Great win in a one-on-one by Hamling on Jenkins, but Jenkins had position and initiated zero body contact, allowing Hamling a free fly at the ball. Appalling forward play.

Greta commitment from both Luke Brown and Haydn Ballantyne in the marking contest at half forward for the Dockers. Courage from both guys.

Loved Tom Doedee’s spoil against Walters one-on-one. He keeps on impressing.

Michael Walters is good enough to not have to play for free kicks. There ya go – I said it. It wasn’t staging, but he had two opportunities to make a play today, and he opted to try to milk a free kick. I don’t like it.

Brennan Cox. This has been his best game of his career thus far, Dockers fans? Have I missed one along the way? He did get a couple of gimmes in the course of the game, but I liked his resolve to go back and nail the goal in the last quarter after the feed from Walters. I also loved his one-handed contested mark against Daniel Talia on the wing.

Great commitment all night, Freo. The lasting image of the game for me was both Hamling and Pearce colliding in the marking contest, both demonstrating enormous courage. Strangely, the mark was paid to Hamling but I thought Pearce had most of it.

An that’ll do for the Mongrel tonight. If you’re like what you’re getting from us, please give us a Like on Facebook or a Follow on Twitter and we’ll keep doing our stuff. I mean, it’s our stuff… who else is gonna do it?