Crows feast on lukewarm Pies

Just in time: Magpie captain Scott Pendlebury gets a handball away just as Crow Sam Kerridge lays a tackle. Photo: Getty Images
Just in time: Magpie captain Scott Pendlebury gets a handball away just as Crow Sam Kerridge lays a tackle. Photo: Getty Images

ADELAIDE 1.4  5.6  9.10  10.16 (76)COLLINGWOOD 3.3  6.6  7.8  7.13 (55)
Goals: Adelaide: J Jenkins 4 R Douglas 2 C Cameron E Betts J Podsiadly M Jaensch. Collingwood: D Beams D Swan H Lumumba J Blair J White S Pendlebury T Cloke.
BEST Adelaide: Dangerfield, Thompson, Smith, Jaensch, Douglas, Jenkins. Collingwood: Pendlebury, Beams, Sidebottom, Grundy, Langdon, Swan.
Umpires: Robert Findlay, Shane McInerney, Heath Ryan.
Official Crowd: 50,051 at Adelaide Oval.

Adelaide may have salvaged its season with a gripping upset win over Collingwood before 50,051 fans at Adelaide Oval on Thursday night, but as much as most of the town is celebrating, don't read too much into the result just yet.

It was a win filled with resolve and character by a team desperate to get its season back on track, and no one could question the incredible commitment by both sides. But it was also a game of poor disposals and wasted opportunities.

Ultimately, it got down to a basic will to win, and Adelaide was hell-bent on atoning for a dismal loss to Melbourne in the previous round, and ending a club-record six-straight losses against the Magpies.

There was controversy when Josh Jenkins was on the receiving end of some brilliant teamwork and kicked a goal to give Adelaide a 14-point lead right on the three-quarter time siren, but such was the noise that many believed he kicked it after the siren. He kicked the ball when there was zero seconds on the time clock, but it was still deemed a goal. It was just impossible to hear the siren.

When Eddie Betts kicked a goal from a set shot from the toughest of angles to give Adelaide a 23-point lead six minutes into the last quarter, everyone expected Collingwood to keep battling; the silent concern was whether the Crows' fitness would be suffice. It was, and disappearing was the belief this was the reason for earlier defeats this season. Amazing what the sniff of a desperately needed win can do to players.

We would love to deliver a fairytale story of Taylor "Tex" Walker riding into the sunset with a bag of match-winning goals, but he was merely a genuine competitor who raised a cheer with every touch in his comeback game from injury.

The real star to emerge was Swan Districts recruit Charlie Cameron in his AFL debut. Nothing sensational, he just epitomised Adelaide's performance with his amazing tackling and willingness to take the game on. When he ran into his first AFL goal midway through the third quarter to give the Crows a 13-point lead, the crowd rose as one. For the first time this season the club didn't need to flash a sign on the scoreboard for them to cheer.

And while coach Brenton Sanderson talked up his three-pronged big attack with James Podsiadly, Jenkins and a reminder there is no show without Tex, it was Jenkins who really came to the fore with three goals in the second quarter to keep Adelaide in the hunt.

As Adelaide surged to an unlikely win, confidence grew, and for a rare time this season the Betts-Podsiadly combination - recruited to inject sorely needed passion into Adelaide's forward structure - seemed to work. Both kicked goals on the tightest of angles, further raising belief this was the Crows' night.

The battle of defences was absorbing, with Brodie Smith producing yet another brilliant effort, and Daniel Talia holding down Travis Cloke for most of the game.

There was certainly nothing wrong with Collingwood's drivers, particularly Scott Pendlebury, Dayne Beams and Dane Swan. Sanderson had difficulty pinning down Pendlebury and his regular opponent Sam Kerridge, was not always the answer.

Brodie Grundy, in just his 15th game, was superb in the ruck. His contest with Sam Jacobs was absorbing, and both were valuable contributors.

There was a lot to like about Collingwood rookie defender Tom Langdon, who not only thwarted attacks and generally starved some of Adelaide's smaller forwards, but played the team game moving the ball into attack.

It was far from Collingwood's best effort this season, yet its tenacity had to be admired - but it was definitely Adelaide's best given the pressure everyone has been under.

Adelaide is now 4-4, and reaches its halfway mark of the home-and-away season playing Carlton at the MCG, Gold Coast (Adelaide) and Fremantle (Patersons). Collingwood plays West Coast (MCG), St Kilda (Etihad) and Melbourne (MCG). At 5-3, don't dismiss the Magpies' top-four chances just yet.

As much as the Adelaide fans finally came alive this season, the fact the Crows have not been able to produce this form until now is obviously mystifying.

Collingwood fans were left to ponder "what if" Jarryd Blair and Beams had not missed set shots with four minutes to go. But this was never about being a fairytale.

This story Crows feast on lukewarm Pies first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.