Adelaide is loving its new-found freedom under first-year coach Brenton Sanderson after it went undefeated in today’s Round 1 pool matches against Carlton and Port Adelaide.
The Crows join Collingwood and West Coast as the only teams to go 2-0 in the NAB Cup, and employed a tenacious running style of footy that overpowered their opponents.
Port finished with one victory while a young Blues outfit went winless over their two matches.
GAME 1 – CARLTON VS PORT ADELAIDE
The weather was hot and so were the Power in the first of the afternoon’s matches, with Port streaking away to a 17-point lead before holding off a late Carlton comeback to run out winners by six points.
Port was surprisingly dominant in the first half, with new arrival Brad Ebert finding a lot of the footy and John Butcher increasingly becoming the main go-to man inside 50.
The Power kicked the first two goals of the match and they could have had three more if it wasn’t for the goalpost, which denied the home side three times in the opening half alone.
As the game wore on it became more and more bizarre, with goal-line video evidence elected not be used in a controversial situation, which was followed minutes later by a farcical supergoal from Matthew Kreuzer after the siren.
For all of Port Adelaide’s dominance they went into the half-time break only four points up due to two contentious umpiring decisions.
It was Carlton who came out firing in the second half, and despite missing star midfielders Chris Judd and Marc Murphy, the Blues put down the pedal through some of their less experienced players.
Kane Lucas was a ball magnet in the middle and kicked a goal of his own to put Carlton into the lead, and former Tiger Andrew Collins added to the margin moments later to extend the buffer to seven points.
Yet Port Adelaide’s tenacity shone through and it clawed its way back through Daniel Stewart and Kane Cornes before hyped youngster Chad Wingard closed the game out in the dying minutes.
• Port’s first-half dominance and its subsequent ability to come from behind and win in the second.
• The umpires having a massive influence on the game with controversial goal decisions.
• Goal-line video review technology – if it’s there to be used, why not use it?
GAME 2 – ADELAIDE VS CARLTON
Once again Carlton went down by under two goals, and this time it was Adelaide who walked away victors.
The Blues were bolstered by the inclusion of Murphy after he was rested for the first match, but even he couldn’t help as Adelaide exposed Carlton’s kids.
In a very high-scoring match given the condensed halves (which were shortened even more due to the heat), the lead changed multiple times but it was Crows bad boy Taylor Walker who put the finishing touches on the match with a goal 90 seconds out from the final siren.
Andrew Carrazzo and Jeff Garlett were finding a fair bit of the ball in the early stages of the match, and the no-break turnaround seemed to have no impact on the Blues who were running free.
However, the Crows were able to convert their pressure to the scoreboard through Tom Lynch, who kicked his first goal for his new club off a pinpoint pass from Jared Petrenko.
Soon after, Walker booted a supergoal on the run and Crows fans were dreaming of a fit and firing “Tex” in the regular season.
The Crows led by nine points at the break, but it was Carlton who kicked the first of the second half. Young father-son pick Dylan Buckley joined the “first kick, first goal” club and reduced the margin to just three points.
As the game went on the lead swayed, and versatile Blue Bret Thornton had a chance to possibly seal the game for his side but stabbed at the kick and registered only a minor score.
• The Blues finish winless – is there reason to be worried?
• Taylor Walker – how influential can he be in the regular season?
• Both teams wearing their traditional guernseys without having to revert to gimmicky clash alternatives, a welcome sight in this day and age.
GAME 3 – PORT ADELAIDE VS ADELAIDE
Adelaide backed up its earlier win over the Blues with a victory by the slenderest of margins in the “mini showdown”.
Both sides kicked two early goals; Port through marking forward Jay Schulz and the Crows via youngsters Rory Sloane and Tim McIntyre.
Amazingly, from that moment on, not a single major was kicked for the rest of the match during 20 minutes of game time.
Rain began to teem down despite the hot conditions, and young Power ruckman Jarrad Redden had no problem adapting with some promising tap work and marking.
The video review was finally called into action during the second half, where a behind to Port Adelaide was nulled after the evidence showed that the footy took a deflection off the point post.
The tiredness in the players was clearly visible and that equated to scrappy footy, with both teams searching for the winning goal that never came.
Instead, it was Brent Reilly’s behind that tipped the game in Adelaide’s favour.
Ben Jacobs committed a crime he’d rather forget when in Port’s last roll of the dice, he controversially stepped on the line kicking out from full-back to yield a ball-up.
• Rory Sloane – the gutsy young midfielder showed experience beyond his age and is an exciting prospect for the future
• Hamish Hartlett showed how influential and classy he can be when fit
• Brenton Sanderson stamped his authority on the Crows side with great results.