Finals Week 3 – Adelaide v Geelong: Crows had many, Cats had few

 

In a season that has been all about frantic tempo, and the difficulty of maintaining it, it made sense that Eddie Betts set the ball rolling in this game. When Eddie’s on, few think and invent in the moment as quickly as he. Diving on a contested ball, he sensed Charlie Cameron through the melee for the first goal. A minute later he read a crumb perfectly and snapped the second himself. Not even two minutes in, alarm bells were sounding for the Cats.

 

Adelaide never let up from there. Geelong were right out of their comfort zone and showing it. Targets were missed and poor decisions plentiful. This negated the decision to play Dangerfield forward once again. The Cats just couldn’t get it to him enough.  Geelong’s plight was personified by Harry Taylor’s late term predicament. Winning the ball, but brought to his knees, surrounded by Betts and Cameron, his only option was to seek the boundary. Eddie potted the subsequent free like it was just another humdrum conjuring trick.

 

We love to eulogise the great finals comebacks precisely because they are so rare. If you’re serious about winning, you best do it from in front. Catch up footy is usually losing footy in finals. As Adelaide’s lead reached eight goals not that far into the second term, Geelong faced their second consecutive preliminary final blowout. Both years, as the finals tempo has intensified, the Cats have been left wanting.

 

Among the many mistakes made in the Malthouse era at Carlton, perhaps the most serious was to underestimate the value of Eddie Betts. In a stronger Adelaide side, he has blossomed into one of football’s most joyous virtuosos. As importantly, he continues to exert an important influence as mentor to younger players. It is no coincidence that his departure from Carlton saw a subsequent decline in the careers of his fellow amigos, Chris Yarran and Jeff Garlett. Now, on this night, it was another of his protégés who stole the show.

 

Charlie Cameron has looked dangerous all season. His blistering pace and agile movement have only been wanting a finishing touch to match the potential. Tonight everything came together. Five goals, a towering mark, scything runs and relentless chasing pressure, this was everything you could want from a small forward.

 

Adelaide had no obvious weakness. Led by Rory Laird, their defensive ball use was short and precise. They constantly changed the angles to pick holes through Geelong’s defensive efforts. Their midfield no longer looks so dependent on Rory Sloane. The Crouch brothers have stepped up mightily, but older teammates like Douglas and Mackay have also found new life. Tom Lynch runs tirelessly in his role as linkman. Sam Jacobs is a reliably substantial presence in the ruck. And they had the attacking potency to score 21 goals. The Crows are not unbeatable, but they’re formidable.

 

Geelong built their modern premiership sides through successive years of judicious drafting, allied to enormous good fortune with father-son offerings. Since their 2011 flag, they have sought to emulate their great rival Hawthorn through topping up with senior players from other clubs. It has kept them in the top eight bar one season, but another flag still feels some distance from their grasp. For a club that has been dealing in the now, that is a growing concern.

 

After leading the team he inherited from Mark Thompson to a premiership in his first season, Chris Scott’s side increasingly resembles the Geelong teams of the 90’s. Brilliant individual talent adds up to a whole that falls short of the ultimate win. The suspicion remains that too many in the hoops hide behind the efforts of J Selwood and Dangerfield, plus their formidable home ground advantage. In this light, their continued efforts to bring Gary Ablett Jnr back to the fold have the feel of an all-or-nothing roll of the dice. They won’t lose their talent overnight, but the ranks of the Golden Generation are getting sparse now, and not much amongst their youth suggests another one is imminent.

 

It would take a hard heart to begrudge Adelaide their shot at a premiership. The adversity they have faced is well documented. Some of it was previously unimaginable in football terms. Their ability to endure and sustain is the mark of a footy club of great substance. But they now must leave the considerable advantages of their own home ground to face the psychological  and emotional cauldron that is a Grand Final day MCG. None of their players has experienced what awaits. It is a task that has overwhelmed a succession of interstate teams in recent years. The last hurdle is a tall one.

 

ADELAIDE       6.3       11.7     14.10   21.10 (136)
GEELONG        1.2       5.8       8.11     10.15 (75)

GOALS
Adelaide:
 Cameron 5, Jenkins 4, Walker 2, Betts 2, Lynch 2, Seedsman 2, Jacobs, Otten, M.Crouch, Knight
Geelong: Dangerfield 2, Cockatoo, Duncan, Selwood, Lang, Hawkins, Motlop, Henderson, Menegola

BEST 
Adelaide:
 Cameron, Laird , Jacobs, B.Crouch, Lynch, Talia
Geelong: J.Selwood, Duncan, Motlop, Mackie, Dangerfield

VOTES
Cameron (Ade) 3,  Laird (Ade) 2,  Jacobs (Ade) 1

Umpires: Rosebury, Stevic, Schmitt

Official crowd: 53,817 at Adelaide Oval

 

About John Butler

John Butler has fled the World's Most Livable Car Park and now breathes the rarefied air of the Ballarat Plateau. For his sins, he has been a Carlton member for more than 30 years.

Comments

  1. Phillip Dimitriadis says:

    Great report JB,
    Crows look cherry-ripe to take it out. Bit more even than Richmond, I reckon, although I hope the Tigers win so the two CFC’s can fire up, more out of shame really.
    Speaking of which, number of former Baggers in this Finals’ series. Grigg not looking like a great decision either.

  2. John Butler says:

    Acutely aware of each and every one of them, LB.

    Good luck to all.

    #ourpastfolly

  3. Cats have lost a few Prelims now, but we need not look too far for the reason; beaten by better teams! Sometimes that happens. I know the media and other commentators like to pin it on a team’s mentality being lacking in some regard, but the Cats have one of the best cultures in the competition. But they don’t have the best team. Pretty simple really.

    For the record I like the Tiger’s resilience. They’ll win by plenty on Saturday.

  4. John Butler says:

    Dips, you’re probably right in some respects, but the Cats haven’t been trading to come 4th. You don’t chase Dangerfield to make up the numbers. They are clearly falling short of their own expectations.

  5. Sage like. What is Eddie’s record in big games away from Adelaide Oval? He is such a barometer for the Crows. May be easier to blanket than Dusty. But the Crows have a cattle dog defence where the Giants had sheep.
    Your insights into the dominance of manic tempo and the inability of mortal sides to sustain it; have been well made all season. The Tigers reminded me of Chelsea or Man United in that scores come from the speed and volume of entries to the box; not their precision. Jose Hardwick?
    Be up at sparrow’s fart in the Algarve on Saturday confusing the hungover poms around the pool. Regards.

  6. John Butler says:

    Hola, PB.

    In his Carlton days Eddie usually struggled against the top 4 teams. But so did the whole Carlton team.

    He’s been better in the better Adelaide team. But I reckon you’re right, he’ll be easier to sit on than Dusty.

    So much on Saturday will depend on Richmond’s defense handling the Crows’ attack. Pressure across the ground will be crucial, because Adelaide will outscore them otherwise.

    Who’s going to handle the occasion best?

    Don’t get sunburnt. :)

  7. JB very good point re Betts mentoring role it is something;Cameron seriously considers before leaving.
    Will Be which team adapts to the pressure the most or a umpiring decision mmmm

  8. John Butler says:

    Cheers ‘Book. One thing Carlton did have under Ratten was the Three Amigos. Malthouse never seemed to rate them. Eddie went, Yas and Jeffy got into strife and were moved on, and lo and behold, look at what both teams in the GF both have – an abundance of quick forwards to pressure defenders.

    And guess what Carlton is searching for? Again.

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