Round 9 – Adelaide v Western Bulldogs: Bogged In The Wet

Adelaide v Western Bulldogs

7:20PM, Friday May 18

Adelaide Oval



On a night full of pouring rain and on an Adelaide Oval turf that more closely resembled a swimming pool than a football ground, it was an under strength Adelaide Crows that continued to assert themselves as a top-four chance, breaking the Western Bulldogs’ three-game winning run on Friday night with a 37-point win on the back of a strong second-half performance.


It is a night devoid of skill and classy finishes, but Eddie Betts, playing his 100th game for the Crows, starts with a typically brilliant Eddie Betts goal. His kick from long range next to the boundary line never looks like missing, even with the ball hitting the goal-square before bouncing through; he plays Adelaide Oval so well and the Crows supporters know it – that’s why they have each forward pocket named after him.


From that moment on it becomes a hard slog for the rest of the quarter as the rain continues to pour down, forcing a number of fumbles and turnovers. It takes 25 minutes before another goal is kicked, but it isn’t before the Dogs have their fair share of opportunities. The Dogs generate 14 inside 50s in the opening term, but as has so often been the case this year, they lack the finish required to put teams away.


Josh Dunkley, Ed Richards and Jason Johannisen all register minor scores in the first quarter, before first-year Crow Darcy Fogarty and Tom Lynch capitalise on the the visitors’ missed opportunities. Given the fact that goals were always going to be hard to come by, they are goals that hurt the Dogs, who are goal-less going into quarter time. It isn’t until the 14th minute mark of the second quarter that they get their first goal of the match, through a dubious ‘contact below the knees’ free kick against Daniel Talia.


Lukas Webb stands up for their first goal of the evening. It would be the only goal the Dogs would kick for the first three quarters, which compounds the season-long issue of their woes in front of goal. It isn’t for a lack of trying though as there are many times throughout the first half they battle and scrap and fight through everything that is coming their way, but a combination of superb, yet stingy Adelaide defence and a lack of adaption to the wet conditions at times contribute to a disappointing loss.


The second quarter perhaps is the visitors’ best chance of cutting the deficit from 16 points to even potentially leading at half time, with the Bulldogs recording 18 inside 50s for a return of 1.4 for the quarter. Whilst the polish isn’t up to scratch right now and hasn’t been throughout the course of 2018 so far, the one thing that impresses me throughout the night is their endeavour at the contest.


They lay 118 tackles, which is a club record. Unfortunately, the Crows also lay a club record in tackles and are more than up for the task, laying 114 tackles of their own. For all the dominance that the Bulldogs have, particularly in the second quarter, the hometown Crows absorb the pressure and with all the inside 50 entries generated in the first half (32 of them), it is about Adelaide’s magnificent defence as much as the Bulldogs’ inabilities to make the most of their opportunities.


A strong case in point is Adelaide’s Jake Kelly, who does very well to hold up Josh Dunkley striding for a loose ball inside 50, which denies the Dogs a valuable six points. But he isn’t the only one; Daniel Talia, Kyle Hartigan and Rory Laird are all brilliant in absorbing the pressure that the Bulldogs’ constantly pile on. Despite only managing two behinds in the second term, the Crows hold the Doggies to one goal themselves – a mighty effort.


The Crows are finally rewarded for this in the second half, with three goals to none to put the match nearly beyond doubt in such horrendous conditions. The theme on the television for most of the night is about taking half-chances and the Crows make more of them than the Bulldogs. Myles Poholke has a quick kick on goal that sails through, whilst Eddie Betts and Lachlan Murphy convert shots from tight angles.


In dry conditions, a scoreline of 42-16 would’ve been a manageable margin, but the Dogs are struggling for answers on this night. Not even head coach Luke Beveridge could believe it when Matt Suckling kicks a great goal – just the Bulldogs’ second major of the night – from just inside the 50 metre arc in the sixth-minute of the last quarter. That is how badly the Dogs are going in front of the big sticks.


On the other end, Adelaide’s goal-kicking wizard Eddie Betts doubles his goal tally from two to four in a matter of minutes to make the result even worse for the visitors, as Adelaide continue to press their claims for a top-four spot, whilst the Dogs remain stuck in the bottom six.


The feelings from this result for this Bulldogs supporter are mixed. Two goals in 120 minutes of footy is almost unforgivable, no matter what the circumstances are and this game is clear evidence of two things: 1) The Western Bulldogs struggle in the wet – because they often play in a roofed stadium and 2) They still have a long way to go to match the top teams. This wasn’t even Adelaide’s best team, with a number of walk-up starters out. The margin could’ve been much greater if the likes of Matt Crouch, Brodie Smith, Taylor Walker and others were in the side.


On the plus side, however, the team is littered with players who try their guts out. Jack Macrae has the company of former Roo Sam Gibson for the entire evening, yet manages to carry on his blistering form – recording 36 disposals, 10 clearances and 13 tackles in a monster effort. Marcus Bontempelli plays a lot of his time this week also in the middle, and has himself 28 disposals, nine clearances and seven tackles – he is one of a rare few that manage to pick the slippery ball up off the deck cleanly. Toby McLean (22 disposals and 10 tackles) and Mitch Wallis (20 disposals and 10 tackles) also battle hard.


Zaine Cordy and Bailey Williams are perhaps the Bulldogs’ best in the backline. On a night where the Crows had themselves nearly 50 inside 50 entries, these two do what they can under enormous pressure. Williams records 24 disposals and four marks and is often the one that tries to get it out of defence. Cordy finds himself with 18 disposals along with five rebound 50s and three marks and often finds a way to spoil the ball or bring it to ground whenever the Crows pump it inside 50.


Adelaide’s Eddie Betts is the only player on the ground who kicked multiple goals, with four majors – perhaps the most influential player. Two of those goals come from tight angles and given how wet and greasy the ball would’ve been, he manages to kick those goals with such precision you could’ve been fooled that he has a dry footy in his hands. To go with his four goals, Eddie has 15 disposals, and three marks – two of those inside 50.


With midfield stars such as Matt Crouch and Rory Sloane out with injuries, the Crows needed some of their lesser-known players to stand up and they fill the void magnificently. Hugh Greenwood has become a very underrated player in an outstanding team, recording 20 disposals (19 contested), 10 clearances and 11 tackles. Cam Ellis-Yolmen is another that performs admirably, recording 27 disposals (21 contested), along with six clearances and six tackles.


Along with Bryce Gibbs (26 disposals, 10 clearances and eight tackles), this trio are the grunt that Adelaide need to match the Bulldogs on Friday night, whilst Rory Laird is at his sublime best when the Crows need an exit out of defence, recording 28 disposals and four rebound 50s in a solid performance in bad weather conditions.


The Western Bulldogs are back at Etihad Stadium on Friday night as they host the in-form Collingwood Magpies in what will be a massive match for both sides. The Bulldogs will want to keep in some form of touch with the top eight, whilst the Magpies, who have lost the last five games against the Bulldogs, sit outside the eight on percentage and having won five of their past seven matches, they will want to keep their winning ways rolling.


As Luke Beveridge said in his press conference on Friday night: “The wheel will eventually turn”. Despite some poor form in front of the big sticks once again, there is enough in this side that suggest that things will get better as season 2018 progresses.



ADELAIDE                 3.1    3.3     6.6      9.9.63

WESTERN BULLDOGS          0.3    1.7    1.10    2.14.26



Adelaide: Betts 4, Lynch, Murphy, Poholke, Jenkins, Fogarty

Western Bulldogs: Webb, Suckling


Alex Docherty’s Best:

Adelaide: Betts, Gibbs, Greenwood, Ellis-Yolmen, Laird, Seedsman

Western Bulldogs: Macrae, Bontempelli, Cordy, Williams, McLean, Wallis

Crowd: 39,407


For more of my readings – opinions or match previews/reviews – go to


About Alex Docherty

Alex is a diehard footy nut. He loves his Western Bulldogs and loves writing about them every week as much he loves running out and playing footy himself.


  1. Alex,
    As crazy as it sounds, I thought the Dogs were the more dominant team in the first half. But, alas, the dominance didn’t translate to where it matters most. And in the end, that poor conversion really hurt them. Best to put this slog well behind them and move on.

  2. Nice job Alex.

    Agree with Smokie on how the Bulldogs dominated in the first half, but couldn’t finish. Adopting the age-old philosophy of “just thump it long” helped the Crows in the wet, and Betts was crucial too.

    Down here at Glenelg it barely rained and this was true also at Henley and up at Semaphore, so there must’ve been a monstrous cloud parked over Adelaide Oval.

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