Ok, so I'll admit that at half-time today all the goodwill built up last week had been well and truly exhausted and that I was browsing the Harvey Norman catalogue for a new toaster. How quickly things can change.
I've got positives coming out the wazoo later, but let's start with a reality check. Adelaide were an awful team today, even before their black death style injury plague, and any quality side would have demolished them. Hence why it was so depressing that come the long break we were sitting on one scrambled goal and not looking like we were going to get too many more.
The first half was like WW1 - young men went over the top bravely and were mown down when they did. Time and time again we tried to break through the middle and ran into a wall of Crows players. Cue circle work handballing and outright farce. Even when we did win it clean nobody was up front (sound familiar?) and the player was forced to go around in circles or backwards because there was no target to kick it to. Shits me to tears. I almost wish I'd signed up for the Before The Bounce thing just to ask what's so wrong about having one guy up there as a target at all times. I know Adelaide's reason for living is being as boring at batshit - and last year's no goals in the first 2 1/2 quarters debacle proves that we struggle to cope with it - but the same thing happened last week, and the week before. We got away with it against the Pies, but it'll be interesting to see how the setup goes against less well drilled outfits like Richmond, North and the Eagles. Could be a good thing for us to have played three of the top nine sides from last year to open the season. Now to get it right against the teams in our bracket.
Still, I've got my doubts about how we do go forward, and maybe getting the win will mean that questions that should be asked won't be. Obviously I'd rather have four points than a searching football inquest at the press conference, but let's table it for future discussion - especially when we're 1.5 at half-time against the Richmond rabble next Sunday.
Down the other end Brett Burton was absolutely killing us early. Funnily it coincided with his teammates kicking to him as a target. We were thumping them out of the centre, but with the few chances we did have being torched they threatened to rip it open early. Good thing the Birdman's kicking was shithouse and he kept us in it. He got a couple of goals in the end, but when Frawley went onto him in the second term he was almost completely shut down - leaving the Crows with precious few working forward line options. When he got the first of the third term I thought that was pretty much the sealer, but he was barely seen again after that.
Was readying myself to go absolutely spaz if we went out and served up the same sort of slop in the second half. I had this terrible vision of going out and meekly submitting to a six or seven goal loss - with a few junk time scores to make it look respectable for the record books. Burton's goal didn't help my mood, but from there on things were so much better. We started to spread the Crows out, started to go wide and switch play so much better. Going inside 50 wasn't too much better, but at least there were options presenting down there. I know people go off their nut about teams not going through the middle, but sometimes you've got to go around the edges and today was well and truly one of those.
Obviously having seen what happens when you kick the ball to a contest inside 50 when Adelaide did it somebody somewhere decided that we should give that time honoured tactic a bash. Eventually Bennell got a goal from a rare piece of crumb, and we were on our way. You know you're involved in a poor match when you kick your second goal eight minutes into the third term and are suddenly right back in the game. From there we just smashed them for the rest of the quarter, the intensity was great, Jamar was killing it out of the middle and every attack the Crows launched was dealt with by the steel trap JURASSIC PACK 2k10 defence. Bate, finally getting back to somewhere near his best despite the Juice-esque reception he was getting from the guy behind me, kicked a couple of goals and was linking up nicely around the ground. Dunn was looking much more comfortable up front, and the likes of Moloney and Jones were getting on top in the centre. Trengove too was having his best game yet, topped off by kicking the goal that put us in front. Amazing reception for JT when he ran off the ground after kicking the goal too - loved the crowd going bananas. There's nothing that pleases more than seeing our fans fire up and show some passion.
Speaking of Juice I was baffled by his game today. Around the ground he actually looked really good, but when he went inside 50 as a forward option he was pretty much ineffective and couldn't hold a mark to save himself. His defensive intensity is actually really good, if he could just learn to do what a key forward is supposed to do (i.e mark and kick straight) he'd be onto something. He'll have to do something remarkable to keep his spot on the list at the end of the year, but I'm not too stressed about him being in the side at the moment. He's giving us more than The Spencil would, and I'll almost go as far as saying I prefer his work around the ground than Miller's. Not much of a benchmark to be measured against, but we've got to have somebody in there who can at least contest the ruck if required so unless the Stef Martin Experience goes bananas and kicks 10 at Casey next week then I'll controversially back Juice for now.
So, we're pressing them in the third term when Dangerfield gets snapped in two and carried off (another rubbish result for my fantasy teams) and the Crows are left with one fit man on the bench in the last term. Theoretically we should have shit it in from there, but ask Collingwood what happens when you've got the numerical advantage but can't kick straight to save your lives. Cue the sort of tense arm wrestle that sends men to their graves. We got a couple of points to put us in front, but the Crows kept attacking and I had this sinking feeling that we were going to cop one goal and not be able to respond. We ran all over them, and when Tippett went off hurt as well it should have been shut the gate time. Still, no matter what we did we couldn't get the ball between the sticks. Aimless kicks inside 50 were easily mopped up, and both Bennell and Dunn torched golden chances. The Dunn one was absolutely shambolic, I was at the other end of the ground - did he try and grubber it through to the bloke in the pocket (Bate? Juice?) or did he just completely stuff up his kick? Would have been crucified if we hadn't got up.
Still eventually persistence paid off and Junior got the proverbial captain's goal to put us more than a goal in front before Jones kicked the sealer. How good was Davey's save to keep the ball in to set up the goal? Loved it, just loved it. It was all over by the time Moloney rivalled Boomer Harvey for the point of the week with his 5000 bounce run down the Southern Stand side and thank christ we knew we were safe well before the end. And bloody hell what a great feeling.
At first it felt like we'd done a Steven Bradbury and skated past the Crows after they were completely rooted, and there's no doubt we could have put it away earlier, but that's paying no respect to the unreal performance of our backline in that last term. Grimes and Joel Mac especially came into their own. Grime Time goes alongside Davey and Green as players who I have complete faith in every time they touch the ball. And he's a great contested mark to boot, not to mention fearless. I rank him up there with Green and Jamar in my top three favourite current players, and by the amount of #16 jumpers that are going around at the moment I'm not alone. He's a gem.
Really enjoyed Bennell's work today as well. Might not be a terrible option to play forward as long as we're aware that his tackling is probably going to be more useful than his goalkicking for now. Still, could be a handy crumber (god forbid) in the absence of The Celebrator, and the apparent disappearance from the face of the planet of Miserable Maric. He's showed a touch of unpolished class, and he's still not there yet but I look forward to seeing what he can do over the next couple of years.
Useless stat of the week (and the sort of rubbish that you can get first by subscribing to Demonblog on Twitter). We hadn't won after kicking one goal in the first half since Round 9, 1989 against the Swans at the SCG. It was the 16th time in history we've done it, but only the fourth since scoring opened up after WW1.
That'll do me for now. I'm buzzing too much to remember much of what actually went on. If anything else comes to mind I'll add it later.
2010 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
Very hard to do these today. Would have struggled to find five worthy in the first half, but the amount of improvement from there on was obscene.
5 - James Frawley
4 - Jack Grimes
3 - Brad Green
2 - Jack Trengove
1 - Joel MacDonald
Apologies to Bail, Bartram, Bate, Bennell (very unlucky), Bruce, Davey, Dunn, Jamar (unlucky), Jones, Junior, Moloney, JUICE (no really), and Warnock
8 - Brad Green, Mark Jamar (Leaders: Strawbs O'Dwyer Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
5 - James McDonald, Ricky Petterd, James Frawley (Leader: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Jack Grimes
3 - Jordie McKenzie
2 - Jack Trengove (Leader: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
1 - Jared Rivers, Joel MacDonald
The Adelaide cheer squad are unbelievable. If you're going to put some guy in charge of doing the *TEAM NAME* *CLAP* *CLAP* *CLAP* thing at least get somebody who can speak English. All day all I could hear from the middle deck of the Ponsford was "AYALAY.. AYALAY". Pure bollocks.
Richmond in the Sunday early game. Absolutely massive danger game now that we'll be going in as red hot favourites. They are putrid this year, but we'll need to kick a better score than today. I have faith, but I'm worried. Reminds me of when we won two in a row in '07 then went out and got spanked by them when they were rock bottom on the ladder.
Sylvia will surely be back. Maybe Rivers too, but where does he fit in to a backline that is killing it? I've still got Riv as a forward fantasies but I'm willing to accept it's never going to happen. One change, CS in for somebody. You decide who.
It was eventually worth it.