Somebody call the police… I’d like to report a theft.
The Adelaide Crows were behind all night, but through a combination of terrible Melbourne kicking, a never say die attitude, and relentless attack, they were able to hit the front late in the last quarter and pinch a great win to move to 6-5 and a position where they can start thinking about September footy.
By rights, Melbourne should’ve won this game, and in many ways, this game probably encapsulates their season. Things that should’ve happened simply haven’t. They kicked one goal in the last and missed eight times. Any one of those missing sailing through for a goal may have tilted the result in their favour, however costly shots at goal by Max Gawn, Tim Smith, James Harmes and finally Sam Weideman cost them dearly.
The Dees have had a season of what might have been, and as they sit now at 3-8. Their season is well and truly over. Meanwhile, with a concerted second half effort, the Crows are now in the mix.
Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.
TOM LYNCH… THE GOOD ONE
Watching Lynch work his backside off up and down the field, time and time again, I started wondering whether he may have been the difference last week when the Eagles ran over the top of Adelaide?
Apologies to Crows fans for bringing that up, but his work rate is so elite that he may have been able to make Adelaide just that bit better, and maybe that would’ve been good enough to hold on.
But why live in the past, huh? Let’s concentrate on Lynch today. He had 26 touches, slotted three goals and took 13 marks in a standout performance. His ten score involvements were vital to the Crows both staying in touch in the first half, and making the run that ultimately won them the game in the second.
Many will float some of the midfield names as the most important Crows players in the team. Others will name key defenders like the emerging Alex Keath, or the reliable Daniel Talia, but give me a fit Tom Lynch and I’ll be happy. His tireless work up and down the ground, continuous presentation at the ball carrier, and great hands when those ball carriers chose him as their target were one of the main reasons the Crows got up in this one.
JOSH JENKINS ANSWERS HIS CRITICS
There was a lot riding on the performance of Josh Jenkins this week. He took his medicine, went back to the SANFL and worked his way back into the side. With Tex Walker struggling in recent weeks, the Crows needed someone to stand up in the forward half and take some big marks, win one-on-one contests, and put the team on his back late in the game.
And that’s what JJ did. I hope those who levelled the worst insults at him are now willing to eat humble pie.
His one-one-one win and goal in the last quarter, followed up by a fantastic handball to hit the running Lynch in stride and bring his team to within a kick were the actions of a guy who belongs. And Josh Jenkins belongs in this Adelaide Crows team. they are a better side with him in it.
Yes, there have been games where he’s gone missing. Yes, the start to his 2019 season was sub-par, but when the chips were down today, and Adelaide needed someone to step to the fore, Jenkins did it.
He had 16 disposals and seven marks on a night not made for big forwards. Dropping back to the goal square when Walker led up the ground, Jenkins was able to provide a genuine contest every time the ball went in his direction. He played in the ruck and worked up to half back when required as well, demonstrating a versatility those earmarked to usurp his spot are not yet capable of.
I’m actually really pleased for Jenkins. He’s copped a heap of shit this season, to the point where he told his missus not to come to the SANFL games to avoid hearing the abuse he cops. That’s pretty full on. We’re a fickle bunch as footy fans, and I am sure there’ll be a lot of people praising him in the morning, lauding his hard work and more importantly to them, his results.
I’m a neutral. I thought his storyline coming into this game was one of the most intriguing of the round, and to see him stand up under this sort of scrutiny, for what it’s worth, I’m bloody proud of him.
If you’re an Adelaide fan you should be as well. he has shown great character throughout his entire demotion, and for him to be able to return and have this kind of impact - he deserves your respect.
THE CROUCH COMEBACK CONTINUES
So, Brad Crouch failed to top the 30-disposal mark for the first time in seven weeks. Yep… must be a disappointment, right? Maybe time to throw him back to the SANFL for a while? Hey, it worked for JJ!
But if we look at some of his other work – the 13 contested touches, the nine score involvements, the seven clearances, the five tackles and the… wait for it… THREE MASSIVE GOALS, maybe I was being a little harsh on him in the first paragraph? Or maybe I had my tongue firmly planted in my keyboard as I typed.
Crouch’s form has been wonderful this season, and when you look at how good he’s been, you almost start to get an understanding of how Adelaide fell away so badly last year without him. Remember, at one point they had no Sloane, no Matt Crouch and no Brad either. They were almost rudderless in the midfield, and it took the steady hand (at that point) of Bryce Gibbs to guide them through some tough times.
Crouch wasn't great by foot tonight, but his continued effort at stoppages around the ground bought time and space for his team at times when it looked as though the Dees might kick away. His work ethic, and willingness to be involved in play at all parts of the field was a highlight, and really, the only place he didn’t plonk himself often was the forward 50, which is amazing because that ended up being the place where he hurt the Dees the most.
Crouch is carrying a huge load in the midfield at the moment, and getting quality heavy support from Cam Ellis-Yolmen and Hugh Greenwood. With Sloane looking doubtful for next week, that load increases again, but Crouch looks to be up to the challenge this season. His results thus far speak for themselves.
The Dees are going terribly with him, but I have to ask – how bad would they be without him?
Amazingly tonight, Reilly O’Brien ended up getting his hand on more taps than Gawn (34-30 for those counting at home) but Gawn’s work around the ground was phenomenal. He showed clean hands when others fumbled, put himself in the right spots to cut off attacks, and made a great habit of positioning himself right in the spot the Adelaide defenders were attempting to exit defensive 50.
I mean, I don’t want to call them dumb, but why the hell would you continually kick it to the spot where Gawn was lurking? Anyway…
At one point, Gawn had this beautiful gather below his knees that made me sit up and take notice. He is probably as skilled a man for his size as I’ve seen in the game, but while many will lament Sam Weideman’s late-game shot at goal, I hope people don’t forget Gawn’s similar shot just a few minutes before. As always it went left, and we’ll get to that in a minute.
Well, if I’m gonna talk up Gawn’s game around the ground, then I have to give the devil his due and talk up the game of Reilly O’Brien at ruck contests.
I reckon there’ll be a few coaches of the ruck variety who watch the way O’Brien absorbed the initial contact from Gawn at stoppages, and was then able to compete for the tap anyway. From the first bounce, it was evident that Gawn was going to try to work O’Brien over, jumping into him and knocking him down, legally, in the contest.
A lesser man would have been intimidated, but O’Brien wasn't. He made adjustments and was able to take what Gawn was dishing out, and still have an impact.
Gawn still had some lovely taps, usually to Angus Brayshaw, but the Crows actually won the clearances overall, and O’Brien’s ability to split the contest and allow his mids to go to work was a huge reason why.
CLAYTON OLIVER’S SECOND QUARTER
Let me throw some numbers at you.
16 disposals. Seven contested touches. Two clearances. One goal.
Clayton Oliver put the Melbourne midfield on his back in the second quarter and said Come with me!”
He finished the game with 34 touches, but when the Dees were extending their lead, it was Oliver leading the way
BAD KICKING IS BAD FOOTBALL
All of them had very gettable shots in the last quarter. All of them missed badly, apart from maybe Harmes who hit the post.
But whilst I want to hammer these blokes for missing goals that could’ve, and should’ve put the game out of reach, I also want to highlight a bloke named Jeff Garlett who dropped a chest mark in the forward pocket in the last quarter and then saw the ball rushed through as he tried and failed to recover.
Many will point to Weideman and say it was his fault, but there are some names above that are just as much at fault as the $650,000 man.
A COUPLE OF RORY ATKINS MOMENTS
I’ve heard a lot of criticism of Atkins over the journey, but I’d never really understood it. Last year saw him sent back to the SANFL, and I thought Don Pyke must’ve had his reasons. Tonight I saw some of the things Pyke probably saw back then.
Early in the last quarter, the Jayden Hunt marked from a kick in. Josh Jenkins ran to cover the mark, and so did Atkins, allowing his man, Josh Wagner to keep running. It was logical that Jenkins, being bigger, slower and closer, would man the mark, but Atkins stood there, allowing Wagner to mark unopposed, run forward and play a big hand in an end-to-end thrust that saw Jeff Garlett kick a goal.
Minutes later, Atkins received on the wing from Brodie Smith and had a good five metres on Angus Brayshaw. With Walker and Betts both offering options, Atkins decided to try to cut inside and take Brayshaw on.
Brayshaw dragged him down and a potential inside 50 for the Crows ended up going to the other end and deep inside 50 for the Dees.
Sometimes you have to back your forwards to actually win a one-on-one contest. By getting it in there, at least you’re giving your team a chance. Atkins’ game overall was very solid. His commitment to getting back deep into defence bolstered the Crows, but it’s amazing how just a couple of little instances can go close to bringing a game undone. One resulted in a goal to the Dees. The other very well could have as well.
THE $650,000 MAN
Do you think Melbourne leaked the info that Weideman and his manager wanted a dump truck full of cash to pull up to his house and deposit it on his door step? I reckon they might have. I also reckon they may have leaked the pic of Steven May drinking as a way to pull him into line publicly, but of course, my speculations about the culture at Melbourne Footy Club are probably irrelevant…
… but I still think I’m right.
So if Weed wants that sort of coin, he is probably going the wrong way about getting it. Weeks in the VFL, followed by a late call up, a chance to win the game, and a terrible kick that looked like it came straight out of the Max Gawn playbook aren’t the sort of qualities I want to be investing in to the tune of $650K.
As I wrote above, it’s not Weideman’s fault that the Dees lost this game. Several players aided them in their own demise, but it’s Weideman’s fault he is throwing this sort of number around without doing anything to justify it.
He has multiple goals six times, with a career-high of three once. He has never taken ten marks in a game. Actually, he’s never taken eight marks in a game. He has had 20+ disposals once in his career, and in games he’s been present, the Dees have a 13-14 record.
If you’re selling your house, they always say to start the price high and you can work your way down to what you will accept. I reckon that’s what Weideman is doing, because there are other forwards out there offering a lot more for a better price, and if he is going to wilt in the big moments, what exactly are you paying for
Geez Gawn loves tapping the ball down to Angus Brayshaw. If Brayshaw is on the move at a stoppage, Gawn will try to find him. My untrained eye counted four times that Gawn absolutely spoon fed Brayshaw at stoppages with perfect taps.
Rory Laird was back to his loose ball collecting best at half back tonight. He ran at 87% from his 31 touches on a night not all that conducive to high skill.
Massive last quarter by Cam Ellis-Yolmen. Looking at him, he is an absolute tank, and his ability to release the ball, even when being tackled and having both arms pinned speaks volumes about the power he’s packing.
There were a few really nice moments for Jack Viney in this one, but from someone on the outside, I’m not completely sold on him. This is year seven for him. I know injuries have slowed him a little, but I expected him to be so much more by this stage.
I think Jeff Garlett could be the best seagull in the league. It’s not as bad as it sounds. He is the best at getting out the back and finding himself without an opponent. Every time I watch the Dees, there’s Garlett either getting a “Joe the goose” or putting himself in a position to run into an open goal. Teams should look at having someone play that goal keeper role when they play against the Dees. Garlett just loves getting out the back.
Also, I hate that he’s called “Jeffy” by the commentators like their his uncle or something. I didn;t hear them doing that to Geoffy Raines, or Jeffy Sarau back in the day. Did Jeff Farmer get “Jeffy”? Nup, he got “The Wiz”. Garlett needs a better nickname, quickly.
A real shame Rory Sloane was forced from the field. Perhaps the fact that they were allowing him to have a run through means it’s only a slight strain? Still, you’d think he would be doubtful until after the bye now.
The two blokes under the most pressure… how’d they go? It was actually three blokes, but JJ was mentioned in the ‘good’ section, so we know how he went.
Tex was quiet early and looked like he was having a hard time judging the flight of the ball. He came into a little more and should’ve ended up with a couple. It was by no means a convincing performance from him, but he won’t be getting dropped any time soon.
Bryce Gibbs started well, and then went out of it very quickly. He was moved onto Clayton Oliver in the third quarter after Oliver went nuts in the second and threatened to rip the game apart. The result – two touches in the third quarter for Oliver, and the Crows working their way back into it.
So you’d say both retain their spot in the team? I would, and I think Jenkins is a lock from now on. He did the stuff Elliott Himmelberg can’t do tonight.
Eddie Betts’ last quarter… electrifying. It was as though he sensed it was his time in this one.
Righto, two things that were really annoying me in this game.
Handballs that completely miss the target.
How many times do players want to handball it to the feet of their teammate, or grass it in front of them, putting them under pressure. If you get the chance, skip to 16.19 remaining in the third quarter. Wayne Milera gets the ball and fires a 7-8 metre handball to Laird. It drops a metre and a half short. He dishes to Paul Seedsman who tries a ten metre handball to Betts and it lands two metres in front of him. A turnover ensues and the Dees get a mark inside 50 to Viney.
It’s bloody horrible stuff, and really, as a fundamental skill, I think we may be going backwards with this. It just happens too often.
Free kicks paid instead of marks
I hate this with a passion. Players are marking the ball, yet the umpires are actually paying the free kick. If he marks it, call it a mark! If he’s been infringed, don’t take the mark off him to award him a free kick. This is a “no feel for the game” kind of decision. Marks are looked upon much more favourably than free kicks. Players want marks. Pay them!
And that’ll about do my ranting.
The Crows welcome GWS to Adelaide next week in what will be a cracker. The Giants are flying ,and in many ways, how the Crows go against this kind of quality opposition may well give a great read on the rest of their season.
The Dees get their regular blockbuster game against the Pies on the Queen’s Birthday Monday. Looking ahead, this may be the best weekend of footy on the calendar. Tigers v Cats, Crows v Giants, and the Pies v Dees, plus… six teams have the week off, which my weary fingers are looking forward to.
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