ADELAIDE 4.2 6.3 13.7 16.8 (104)
ESSENDON 5.4 9.7 12.7 15.10 (100)
Essendon gave everything it had against all the odds yet still has come agonizingly short against a solid Adelaide side by 4 points at AAMI Stadium.
The Bombers horrendous run with soft tissue injuries continued, with Ben Howlett and Jason Winderlich suffering hamstring injuries which could be set to end their seasons. The loss of Winderlich was particularly painful, as the quick forward was providing the main avenue to goal for the Bombers, kicking four before being forced from the field.
The win solidifies the Crows position on the ladder, but creates major problems for the Bombers’ hierarchy. The Bombers, who only a few weeks ago looked certain September combatants, are now equal with Fremantle on the ladder, with only percentage separating the clubs. Essendon’s once strong percentage now only holds a 0.79 buffer over the Dockers.
The Bombers controlled proceedings early in the piece, with fast ball movement proving too much for the Crows defence. Furthering adding to the Crows problems was the zone Essendon had employed. It slowed the Crows down and made transition from defence to attack incredibly difficult.
The natural, fast rebounding footy was being stifled, and as the Bombers took a 22 point lead into half time, it looked as though most of the Crows’ stars had gone missing.
Not Patrick Dangerfield. The Crows ran over the Bombers in the third to set up the pulsating last term, but it was Dangerfield that got them going. He had 29 disposals and kicked three vital goals. 20 of his touches were contested as he continually threw himself into the stoppages, winning the ball and setting his team mates off into space.
His work eventually paid dividends. as the Crows kicked seven goals to three for the quarter, and it appeared the Bombers were finished due to fatigue stemming from only two rotations available on the bench.
But they refused to relent. Captain Jobe Watson kept winning the ball and putting it in dangerous positions, but it was a skill error that may haunt him. With minutes remaining, he missed a set shot to put the Bombers in front. The Crows moved the ball forward and Taylor Walker crucially converted.
Still Essendon wasn’t finished, Courtenay Dempsey -who was excellent off half back – kicked a goal from outside 50, and the Crows once more had to throw numbers behind the ball in a desperate bid to hold the tide.
There were several chances, a mark was dropped and a snap was smothered, but ultimately the ball would finish brutallyclose to the Essendon goal as the Crows celebrated.
Adelaide: Walker 4, Dangerfield 3, Johncock, Jenkins 2, Jacobs, Sloane, Porplyzia, Riley, van Berlo
Essendon: Winderlich 4, Browne, Gumbleton 2, Colyer, Dempsey, Davey, Hurley, Jetta, Lonergan, Watson
Adelaide: Dangerfield, Thompson, Sloane, Talia, Douglas, Walker
Essendon: Watson, Dempsey, Lovett-Murray, Browne, Carlisle, Heppell
Adelaide: Porplyzia (shoulder)
Essendon: Howlett (hamstring), Winderlich (hamstring)
Adelaide: Richard Tambling replaced Jason Porplyzia in the third quarter.
Essendon: Henry Slattery replaced Ben Howlett in the second quarter.
Umpires: Donlon, Kamolins, Hay
Official crowd: 40,030 at AAMI Stadium