ADELAIDE 3.5 6.6 9.12 14.15 (99) PORT ADELAIDE 5.3 7.10 7.14 10.16 (76)
Goals: Adelaide: E Betts 4 S Jacobs 3 T Walker 2 B Crouch J Jenkins J Porplyzia P Dangerfield S Thompson. Port Adelaide: J Polec 3 J Schulz 2 Brad Ebert H Hartlett J Westhoff M White T Boak.
BEST Adelaide: Jacobs, S. Thompson, Talia, Crouch, Dangerfield, Betts. Port Adelaide: Boak, Wines, Ebedrt, Cornes, Pittard, White.
Injuries: Port Adelaide: A Carlile (hamstring) J Trengove (ankle).
Umpires: Sam Hay, Jason Armstrong, Luke Farmer.
Official Crowd: 50,552 at Adelaide Oval.
Adelaide stepped out from the rock under which it has been hiding for 423 days by showing its true colours and inflicting a stunning 23-point defeat on Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval on Sunday night.
That’s how long it had been since the Crows have won a Showdown, and given their amazingly inconsistent form this season – a win-loss-win situation in their past nine games – this was a huge result.
Port, held goalless in the third quarter, has now surrendered top spot to Hawthorn after being the stand-out side since round eight.
Depicting Adelaide’s fight for football life on a wet and slippery Sunday afternoon before a record 50,552 fans were the late inclusions of Jason Porplyzia, who many thought had played his last AFL game, and defender Luke Thompson in his first AFL game this season and just his 15th in four seasons.
The win has kept Adelaide’s finals chances alive, even though it probably does not deserve to be there, while the loss may cost Port an important top-two finish.
Given the pressure, and the slippery conditions, there were some gems of brilliance from both sides, and none gave Port more hope and scared the wits out of Adelaide more than another sensational mark and goal from Chad Wingard – who had been quiet – three minutes into the last quarter.
For the most part, it was a complete team effort by Adelaide, but it was probably curtailing the usual brilliance of Port’s stars that made the difference. Coach Brenton Sanderson’s move of dropping veteran Ben Rutten and pitting Daniel Talia against Coleman medallist leader Jay Schulz was a huge success, and Luke Brown’s disciplined effort to shut down Robbie Gray in the second half was invaluable.
Rising higher than anyone was ruckman Sam Jacobs, whose tireless effort in ruck, inspiring marks and telling goals was reminiscent of his brilliant 2012 form.
Both sides produced some amazing moments, especially in the first half – Port’s Matt White running 55 metres and bouncing twice for a goal, Sam Gray climbing over Brent Reilly and hanging in the air seemingly for minutes, and Travis Boak and Jared Polec creating team goals.
Adelaide had its share with a typical Patrick Dangerfield special storming through for a goal on the run from 65 metres and a Porplyzia snap like the ‘‘old days’’.
All of this was backed up by ferocious tackling, particularly from Port, but with the Crows having the edge with contested possessions.
There were mistakes and turnovers by both sides, but no one could question their commitment and brilliance – as expected in any match, let alone a Showdown. But the real game-breaker was the efficiency rate, and Port was far superior in the crucial area early. As seen often this season, the Power’s intent to take risks and have faith in teammates was telling, and repeatedly caught the Crows out.
However, Adelaide never lost belief, and with a big improvement in ball handling skills it deservedly got back into the game to be within 10 points at half-time. Port cost itself dearly in front of goal in the second quarter, kicking 2.7 to Adelaide’s 3.1 from two extra inside-50 entries.
Eddie Betts kicked a freakish goal late in the final quarter, and when he followed it up with another from 48 metres, Port fans began leaving.
Also gone was the notion that Betts had cost the Crows too much money and the team lacked character.