Hawthorn 6.2 8.3 11.10 13.11 (89)
Adelaide 2.2 5.8 11.14 16.17 (113)
What looked like being a customary Hawthorn response to an upset loss the previous outing, quickly turned into a nightmare for the once almighty heavyweights.
The Hawks started this contest on their own terms, coming out with all cylinders firing as the Crows were left shell-shocked early. Hawthorn were allowed to play their favoured uncontested style - flicking the ball around unopposed, switching at will and exploiting both the open expanses of the MCG and the Crows' lack of experience.
Hawthorn were running harder and linking up expertly as they have so often done in the past, finding space over the back of Adelaide’s defensive zone as Crows defenders continually pressed too high, allowing this coveted space to become an avenue for several Hawthorn counter-attacking goals off the back of turnovers.
Taking their chances advancing inside 50, Hawthorn punished Adelaide’s inability to hit both their targets around the ground and the scoreboard. Conditions soon went from bad to worse for the Crows as key forward Josh Jenkins was taken from the ground and subsequently rushed via ambulance to nearby Epworth Hospital with a suspected broken rib/collapsed lung.
Coach Don Pyke was left with a number of conundrums at quarter time with his side trailing by 24 points; one key forward down only further exacerbating the lack of effective ball movement entering their attacking 50m zone, as Hawthorn dictated the terms of play.
Having faced a similar predicament last week against the Giants, Pyke instructed his players to harness the pressure and team defence they crushed their previous opponents with. Well aware of Hawthorn’s propensity to switch the ball, find loose men and cut through teams with expert precision, Pyke demanded more from his players with an emotionally charged quarter-time address.
There were to be no more easy marks, no more cheap chipped balls over the top and certainly no more fluid ball movement for the boys in brown and gold. The uncontested style Hawthorn enjoyed in the first term was quickly stifled by an onslaught of Adelaide pressure all over the field from that point onward.
Adelaide once again flicking the switch on their opponents after quarter-time to wrestle back control of the contest and dictate terms early in the second term. The Crows were all over Hawthorn, tackling and chasing relentlessly, preventing the Hawks from finding any time and space on the ball, and inevitably converting this pressure into the kind that wins games - scoreboard pressure.
Having watched his relief ruck partner go down in the first term, ruckman Sam Jacobs knew full well the responsibility he was left with. He could not have responded in greater fashion – lifting his teammates with what can only be described as an inspirational display of contested marking both in defence and attack.
After taking consecutive contested marks in an almost identical position in front of goal, Jacobs converted his second attempt to kick-start Adelaide’s momentum shift. Tom Mitchell’s maiden goal for Hawthorn was not enough to affect Adelaide’s new found dominance as goals to Betts and Cameron pegged back the hefty Hawks lead to just 7 points. Adelaide’s inaccuracy in front of goal would cost them any chance of taking their first lead of the match however, as they kicked an abysmal 3.6.24 for the term despite enjoying a clear dominance of time in forward half – 62% to 38%.
Conversely, the Hawks were clinical at the other end, as Liam Shiels finished truly to cap off a remarkable run of Hawthorn accuracy at goal – which saw them end the half 8.3.51.
Hawthorn were fired up in the rooms at half-time, clearly vocal and angered by allowing the Crows back into the game. Unfortunately for the Hawks, it was the Crows who came out like men on fire in the third term – with Sam Jacobs only growing in stature as he and young gun Mitch McGovern put in a captivating display of aerial dominance. The Crows were monstering the Hawks in the air to that point, taking a resounding 14 contested marks to 3 (of which Jacobs had clunked 5) after Hawthorn’s early dominance in uncontested marks.
Charlie Cameron continued to turn on the afterburners with a brilliant display coming off the back of the square, using his blistering pace to break the lines and send repeated entries inside 50. The lightning-quick no.23 is fast becoming a damaging weapon in a new-look, high-octane Adelaide midfield.
Having been well held by the miserly Ben Stratton for the majority of the match, the mercurial Eddie Betts turned the contest on its head, dazzling the MCG crowd with two stunning goals only the little master is capable of. One a baulked set shot for goal and silky finish on his opposite leg, the other a ridiculous checkside goal tucked in hard in the pocket on the boundary line after receiving a cheeky handball from teammate Andy Otten.
Goals to Atkins and McGovern came either side of the Betts show, with the latter putting Adelaide two points up with another strong contested grab inside 50, and into the lead for the first time all afternoon.
A shocking set shot from short distance by Tom Lynch after a calamitous Hawks kick-in error should have seen the Crows further ahead, but in true Hawthorn style they advanced the ball the length of the ground and ended the foray with a Paul Puopolo soccered goal from point-blank range.
Adelaide would again respond but in familiar wasteful fashion – behinds to McGovern and Cameron, then Walker and Lynch coming either side of an inspirational contested mark from Otten inside 50, and consequently his first goal since Rd 23, 2013. His teammates came from far and wide to congratulate him and the smile was impossible to hide behind his heavily-bearded face.
Otten was influential up forward during the crucial premiership quarter Crow blitz – while also battling manfully in the ruck against much larger opponents, in lieu of the hospitalised Jenkins. It was both a timely and significant performance for the two-time ACL victim, given Jenkins’ possible prolonged absence in the wake of his own injury, despite later positive reports clearing Jenkins of any breaks or fractures.
Both teams traded late blows with David Mackay slotting home on the run before Ty Vickery’s major and a Jarryd Roughead behind pegged back Adelaide’s lead back to four points at the final break. Rory Sloane was crucial in the clinches despite only registering 12 disposals; his 34 pressure acts and 13 tackles clearly the best of each category from any man on the field to that point, paving the way for a massive final quarter from the inspirational Crow leader.
The Crows would come out all guns blazing in the final term, with Mitch McGovern continuing his aerial dominance, and as expected, Rory Sloane exploding into action with a spectacular contested mark and goal lifting his teammates.
This was just the start of a period of total dominance from Sloane as he caved his way through contests liked a raging bull; recording 13 possessions of which 9 were contested, amassing 6 clearances, 3 tackles and a further 8 pressure acts for the term. He even had time to contest a centre square stoppage as the designated ruckman – and hilariously won the clearance; proving there clearly is no substitute for hunger.
It was a match winning display from the fair-haired Crow weapon.
David Mackay enjoyed the fruits of his teammates’ labour with two match-sealing final quarter goals. His first goal coming as he got on the end of an individual bout of brilliance by young midfielder Riley Knight, who despite being tucked in hard on the boundary under the pressure of evergreen champion Shaun Burgoyne, was able to break the veteran’s tackle and take off, before timing his handball to perfection to release the hard-running Mackay from 50m.
His next goal came via a beautifully measured pass from Rory Atkins, after a clever tap down from Andy Otten completely paved the way for his teammate to punish the Hawks.
Adelaide were hungry, and hunting the Hawks with a ferocity not seen from the Crows at the MCG for some time. Crows players were throwing themselves into every contest, their pressure unbelievable, crushing the Hawks on the inside and opening them up on the outside with electric pace and precision – not dissimilar to the fashion GWS were so easily dealt with the previous week.
There were scary similarities in both games, with the Crows again able to turn the areas of dominance their opposition enjoyed early in the game, into their own strength as the game progressed. Adelaide outscored their Victorian opponents 12.9.81 to 4.3.27 from turnovers after half-time, after the Hawks had kicked all 8 of their first-half goals from Crows turnovers.
Once again in the space of just six days, Adelaide were able to wrestle back control of the match, and dictate terms for the final three quarters after their opponents enjoyed total control of the ball in the first.
Late goals to the returning captain Taylor Walker and back-pocket Luke Brown all but sealed the contest in Adelaide’s favour, and in the process erasing a 6 year hoodoo against the mighty Hawks.
The doubters were vocal during the week, “It was just a round one blip, the Giants were too full of themselves” they said. Surely today’s come-from-behind result, away from home against the competition’s most successful side in recent history, will leave little doubt in the minds of the sceptics.
Conceding 45 games and almost 2 whole years on average per player to the Hawks, Adelaide fielded 14 players with less than 100 games experience at the ‘G, compared to the Hawks’ 7. Hawthorn fielded 15 players with at least 100 games experience compared to Adelaide’s 8 – a remarkable stat given the Crows ability to power over the top of their more seasoned rivals on the day, leaving the Hawks 0-2 for the first time since 2009.
The younger and far less experienced Crows outfit were full of running til the very end, adding further credence to their growing depth, and the organic growth the coaching panel had so often spoken about in the off-season as being crucial to their 2017 aspirations.
A Showdown now awaits the undefeated Crows, and yet another opportunity to erase a long-standing hoodoo, this time over their cross-town rivals – a win would see the Crows not only equal their greatest consecutive winning streak against Port Adelaide (4), but also draw even with the Power in the Showdown ledger which currently sits at 20-21 in Port's favour.
Port Adelaide have enjoyed the lead in the hometown war since April 6, 2008 – the better part of a decade. A win next Saturday would see Adelaide 3-0 to start the season, and set for a highly successful 2017; a loss would see the Power pull two games clear of their fierce rivals in the Showdown ledger, while catapulting themselves to an unlikely run towards the top 8 in 2017.
Stats courtesy of footywire.com and afl.com.au