Comeback Crows Just Fall Short

July 30, 2023 by
Filed under: NSW Demons 
R19 - Kozzie & Woey celebrating a goal

Round 19 – Melbourne v Adelaide

Liam Chambers

Q1 – Sizing each other up.

The Crows have been a mixed bag this season. They’ve beaten Port Adelaide and Brisbane, then only lost to Collingwood by one point at home and by two points away. Yet they look like missing finals this year. As they obviously save their best for the top four teams, Melbourne couldn’t afford any complacency.

Max Gawn loves the big moments and had the first opportunity to show off his talents when he marked a soccer chip from Kysaiah Pickett. His set shot from just outside 50 didn’t quite reach the heights of last week’s effort but still sailed easily through the uprights.

In reply, Izak Rankine missed a relatively straightforward set shot but a minute later scored a brilliant individual goal from the other pocket; his style reminiscent of Kozzie Pickett.

Jacob van Rooyen again showed how dangerous he can be in marking competitions when he launched and held the ball, 30m from goal. He also doesn’t miss too many set shots.

The term ended with Melbourne leading by a slim four point margin. Adelaide’s season was on the line so playing defensively wasn’t an option for the visitors. It was either win or go down fighting.

Q – Melbourne leaves the door ajar.

The Dees had been relatively cautious in the first quarter, but the opening moments after the break were inspired. Trent Rivers’ high speed run up the wing, meant Pickett was able to position himself to receive the hand pass which came via Alex Neal-Bullen. Kozzie’s kick to inside 50 was met by Kade Chandler, who launched himself to take the mark, then converted with ease.

The tackling pressure from both sides became more intense, but it was Melbourne who was able to forge ahead and spend more time inside their forward 50.

Chandler got his second of the quarter by being on the end of a chain involving Christian Salem, James Jordan, Ed Langdon and Neal-Bullen. The 40m set shot was well executed, increasing the Demons’ lead to seventeen points.

Melbourne had another immediately after the bounce, with Jake Melksham marking on the edge of the goal square. With the margin out to twenty three points, it looked like plain sailing for the Dees. When Melksham got his second from a running chip 30m out, Demon fans could have been forgiven for their belief that the complete domination of Adelaide would continue.

However, that belief was shattered when Tex Walker marked the ball just to the right of the goal square. In fact, that goal was the culmination of a five minute period where the Crows had steadily worked their way back into the game.

After the goal, Adelaide continued to bombard the Dees’ defence before finally getting the follow up when Izak Rankine was just able to get a boot to the sherrin on the edge of the square, guiding it across the line.

Q – Adelaide gets up off the canvas.

For all Melbourne’s dominance for most of the second quarter, they were only ahead by thirteen points at the main break. Adelaide had been able to work their way back into the contest by upping the pressure and forcing the Dees to continually defend.

Whatever was discussed at half time, had an immediate effect, as Melbourne ran out looking determine to reassert their authority. Kozzie Pickett, who was having a good game, was again pivotable in the Dees dash towards goal. 150th gamer Ed Langdon, ran inside 50 and launched a centring kick that Jack Viney marked with his right hand, somehow managing to retain the ball while spinning around. He converted with an around the corner kick to push the lead out to nineteen points.

As previously mentioned, Pickett had been instrumental in a lot of Melbourne’s play during the afternoon, and when Lachie Hunter launched inside 50, Kozzie was on hand to take the mark. His run around set shot from 40m was on song, stretching the margin to twenty four.

When Pickett’s in the zone, he’s difficult to reign in. His second goal was a lesson in individuality. His initial collection of the ground ball in the pocket was impressive and his subsequent weave through the Crows’ defence, followed by the snap from 15m was superb. It gave the Dees a game high lead of thirty two points.

In a case of history repeating itself, Adelaide again got off the canvas while the Ref was counting to ten. Again Izak Rankine emulated his opponent Kozzie Pickett in leading his side’s revival. After collecting the tapped down ball on the edge of 50, he ran on and casually chipped from 40m to claw one back.

The comeback was temporarily arrested when Taj Woewodin marked and kicked inside 50, where Alex Neal-Bullen ran out to meet the perfectly weighted ball. The hard working midfielder then went back and converted the 30m set shot.

An uncharacteristic mistake in defence allowed the turnover, which Lachlan Murphy exploited to snap a goal from 30m in front. Then Darcy Fogarty marked on the 50m arc, and his set shot kick just snuck inside the right hand upright.

Finally Max Gawn put Melbourne back in the driver’s seat when he marked the ball 20m from the goal line.

Q – The Crows rise again but are unable to take flight.

With the Dees leading by twenty three points at the start of the final term, all the smart money was on a comfortable win for the hosts, given their strong fourth quarter performances this year. But yet again, the Crows would attempt to defy expectations.

Shane McAdam started the turnaround when he marked and converted from 30m. After the bounce, Adelaide were straight back inside 50, where Ben Keays was able to control the bouncing ball and snap from 30m in front.

It was back to a two goal game and all the momentum was suddenly with the Crows.

Ben Keays had a second in quick succession when he was awarded a down field free for an infringement on the 50m arc. Hi around the corner kick from the pocket was on target and Adelaide was on the cusp of catching the Dees. The Crows finally drew level after Tex Walker took advantage of the confusion in defence to collect the ground ball and strike his second of the match.

What a difference a sub makes! Joel Smith, who had just come on for Ben Brown, took a mark directly in front and kicked from point blank range, after also being awarded a 50m penalty. With the Demons collective blood pressure partially reduced, the players continued rebuilding their advantage.

Joel Smith was also involved in the next goal when his kick to Taj Woewodin was marked on the edge of the square. The successful set shot pushed Melbourne’s lead out to fourteen points. After that, Kade Chandler marked inside 50 and went back to kick his hat trick.

It wasn’t over yet though as Shane McAdam marked the ball just inside 50. His opportunistic hand pass to Tex Walker allowed the goal scoring machine to launch from 50m and also claim his third.

Melbourne had a chance to seal the deal with a couple of successive set shots but could only manage minor scores.

Then with four minutes to go, Brodie Smith kicked from 50m to reduce the gap to ten points.

The drama continued when Izak Rankine pulled a hamstring with two minutes remaining. It was a tragic end to an inspirational afternoon for the small forward as he was helped off the field. In a final nail biting twist, Tex Walker marked at the top of the square. His set shot was easily converted, making it a four point game.

Fortunately, the Dees hung on for a hard fought win, which now makes the job of maintaining fourth spot on the ladder a little easier.

We’re away to Richmond in Round 20. They will be every bit as tough as Adelaide, so we better be prepared to scrap hard.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!


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