For the victor it was always about getting one foot in the door. For the loser it is about regrouping making sure that the back door is open. The Adelaide Crows must now shake off disappointment and approach next week with optimism as they still have that golden second chance. The Sydney Swans get the week off to have a look at their opponents and prepare for the chance to play off in a Grand Final.
Supporters were treated to a Friday night blockbuster for three quarters between Hawthorn and Collingwood, and the afternoon delight between the teams that finished second and third was a thrilling contest.
From the start of the match the intensity was clearly evident. Sydney led at the first change with dual Brownlow Medalist Adam Goodes kicking both of Sydney’s goals in the opening quarter. The Swans’ tackling pressure and contested possessions were exceptional and the ‘Bloods’ led both departments in the first quarter. Both teams were definitely feeling the tension of the occasion but the Swans were able to remain more composed when in possession. Taylor Walker provided a spark by delivering Adelaide’s only goal but the Swans had a clear structure in place and their defense held up superbly.
The second quarter saw the Swans absolutely dominate proceedings and control the midfield battle. Daniel Hannebery, Ryan O’Keefe and Josh Kennedy showed their class, in contrast, Patrick Dangerfield was unable to get into the game and exert his dominance as he has for much of the season. Early in the second quarter the Crows were simply throwing the ball on their boot undoubtedly aiming to gain territory rather than hit a target. The Swans used quick handballs and found themselves in open spaces to give their forward structure every opportunity to add to the score board. Mitch Morton offered a great target up forward for the Swans and Sam Reid was looking dangerous. Midway through the second quarter Sydney had more than double the uncontested possessions of Adelaide, this indicated the amount of free space that Sydney were able to find themselves in. Inaccuracy was really hurting the Crows but the Sydney pressure on the ball carrier was exemplary. With Goodes in this type of form it was always going to be difficult for the Crows to come back. The halftime score had Sydney leading 44 to 19.
The start of the third term saw Adelaide curtail the control Sydney had on the contest. The amount of smothers in the game was very impressive for both teams as it showed how desperate they were to disallow their opponent clean possession. A key moment in the quarter came when Dangerfield was run down by Lewis Jetta. Both are absolute superstars of the game but Jetta was displaying his unbelievable speed to again keep Dangerfield quiet. Every time the Crows looked like delivering a decent forward fifty entry the Swans defense would easily account for their direct opponents. Known as the ‘Premiership Quarter’ both teams kicked one goal but with the lead Sydney had from the first half it was going to take something special for the Crows to get out of this dilemma. The sour note for the Swans at the end of a tight quarter was the hamstring injury to Ben McGlynn. The siren sounded soon after and the Swans went into the final change leading by 24 points.
The final quarter saw the Crows deliver the first blow and it gave them hope to possibly do the unthinkable. O’Keefe was again proving the thorn in Adelaide’s side and substitute Luke Parker kicked the Swan’s first goal to edge them closer to a Preliminary final. The home crowd was trying their best to help the Crows back into the game but again the Swans defense was holding firm. At the 11 minute mark Jetta effectively ended any hope the Crows had of a comeback. Daniel Talia, the 2012 NAB AFL Rising Star, suffered a suspected broken arm which is an unfortunate end to an incredible season from the youngster. With six minutes to go, Graham Johncock missed to the near side making that 1.7 from set shots for the Crows in comparison to 5.0 for the Swans. As the siren sounds the Swans emerge with a gutsy 29 point win and send the inaccurate Crows off to a semi-final against Ross Lyon’s giant killing Dockers.
The Crows have had a remarkable season, considering the mess they were in at the end of the 2011. Although, they will be hoping for a much better performance than the one they displayed today. Sydney will go back home full of confidence and give their battered bodies an adequate rest so that they will be fully refreshed for their next game in two weeks. It was an impressive display by the Swans but they know full well that the job is not done yet.
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 FINAL
Adelaide 1.3 2.7 3.10 5.12 (42)
Sydney 2.2 7.2 8.4 11.5 (71)
Best: Sydney – O’Keefe, Goodes, Kennedy, Roberts-Thompson, Richards. Adelaide – Thompson, Doughty, MacKay, Vince, Sloane
Injuries: Sydney – McGlynn (Hamstring). Adelaide – Talia (Broken arm)
Umpires: Schmitt, Stevic, Farmer
Crowd: 44,849 AAMI Stadium