ADELAIDE CROWS 12.9 (81) DEF. FREMANTLE 11.5 (71)
The Adelaide Crows were risking a straights sets exit and the Fremantle Dockers were full of confidence after what they did to the reigning premiers the week before. The home crowd advantage proved too much for the Dockers as Taylor Walker put on forwards clinic.
The first quarter began in impressive fashion with a David Mundy clearance from the centre bounce. A quick fire handpass to Stephen Hill was then followed with a classy left foot pass to Chris Mayne. Splitting the middle, as he has done for the most of the season, was the start the Dockers wanted. However, with another forward fifty entry soon after Mayne found himself with two goals and Crows realised they had a dogfight on their hands.
Patrick Dangerfield found a little of the ball as though it looked as if he had tagger Ryan Crowley to deal with. The Dockers were looking dangerous with every entry but the Crows forward structure was dishevelled and under pressure. With seven minutes left Jason Porplyzia registered the Crows first major and from the then the Crows had some confidence. Walker missed a chance whilst directly in front and Rory Sloane also squandered an opportunity from a set shot. With a very obvious hands in the back decision payed to Michael Walters. the Dockers recorded an imposing quarter time lead, 25 – 9.
Not only did the Crows have to rectify some inaccurate kicking, they also had to contend with losing Sam Shaw to a hamstring injury. Mayne started as he did in the first quarter with a goal in the opening minutes. Hayden Ballantyne was sniffing around making the forward set up commanding and putting the Crows defenders under enormous pressure with every entry. With Porplyzia the only shining light at this stage the Crows were able to stay in touch.
Midway through the second quarter the Crows were able to find space, but could not take full advantage of some rare uncontested possession. Although dominating the forward fifty entries Fremantle did not capitalise until a brain fade from Walker gifted the Dockers a fifty metre penalty and a goal. Ross Lyon was clearly winning with battle of the coaches as he was forcing the Adelaide forwards to worry more about defending. Many would be forgiven in thinking that Dangerfield was not on the field until receiving a free kick from a ruck contest, which he converted. Walker took a strong mark to finally enter the game and kicked truly after the siren. The Crows went in the main break trailing 31 – 44 but looking stronger than the first quarter.
With Alistair Clarkson observing from the stands the Crows began strongly with what looked like more composed players. Even though the Dockers were leading the contested possession count 72 – 67 and tackles 38 – 33 the gap was slowly closing in the key areas and more importantly the score board. Walker was proving too much for young defender Alex Silvagni, kicking his second and clearly buoyed by the size advantage he had. He then produced a carbon copy of his previous efforts with his second for the quarter and third of the game.
The Dockers forwards were forced to retreat back and aid their defenders as the Crows were getting on top of the contest. With six minutes remaining Sam Wright put the Crows in front for the first time and clearly exposing the Dockers’ lack of finals experience. Nathan Fyfe was having a quiet night and then snapped a crucial goal to put his team in front. At the other end, Walker and Kurt Tippett combined to maintain the Crows lead and go into the final change with all the momentum.
The final term saw Fremantle substitute Nick Suban kick the first goal of the quarter with the captain Matthew Pavlich finally registering his first major after being held well by Crows defender Ben Rutten. It looked as if the Dockers skipped off to a healthy lead but Bernie Vince made sure the Crows stayed in touch. The contest was heating up with Adelaide still looking comfortable with their vital 10 point lead. Fremantle kept pressing but the Crows were able to absorb the attack until Alex Silvagni kicked the ball out on the full and allowed Walker to put the game beyond doubt.
The Crows, after the horrid 2011 season have made the Preliminary Final in season 2012, and will take on Hawthorn next Saturday at the MCG.
Adelaide 1.3 4.7 8.9 12.9 (81)
Fremantle 4.1 7.2 8.4 11.5 (71)
Best: Adelaide – Walker, Porplyzia, Thompson, Rutten and Vince. Fremantle – Walters, Mayne, Johnson Sandilands and Mundy
Injuries: Adelaide – Petrenko (Shoulder), Shaw (Hamstring). Fremantle – Nil
Umpires: Nicholls, Meredith, McInerney
Crowd: 31, 742 AAMI Stadium