Scott Thompson of the Crows handballs during the match against St Kilda. Photo: Getty Images
ADELAIDE 4.4 9.10 15.14 20.16 (136) ST KILDA 2.2 3.2 6.6 7.8 (50)
Goals: Adelaide: J Jenkins 4 J Podsiadly 3 D Mackay 2 J Petrenko 2 M Wright 2 E Betts L Brown M Crouch P Dangerfield R Douglas R Sloane S Kerridge. St Kilda: N Riewoldt 2 J Gwilt J Saunders J Steven R Stanley S Savage.
BEST Adelaide: Smith, Thompson, Mackay, Jenkins, Jacobs, Sloane, Kerridge, Betts St Kilda: Riewoldt, Dempster, Curren, Hayes, Saunders, Ray.
Umpires: Scott Jeffery, Chris Kamolins, Heath Ryan.
Official Crowd: 22,923 at Etihad Stadium.
The inevitability of football, upended by Carlton’s result, was put right on Sunday when Adelaide broke through for its first win of the season and St Kilda for the sort of loss that had been forecast to be its lot this year.
The Saints, impressive in their first three matches, frayed then looked ragged and lost against the Crows. They were alive to the contest for a quarter but buckled under Adelaide’s superior pressure and class.
Round 4 St Kilda v Adelaide Crows
Eli Templeton handballs the ball away from a Crow. Photo: Getty Images
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Riewoldt (2.1), Gwilt (1.1), Stanley (1.1), Steven (1.1), Saunders (1.0), Savage (1.0), Dunstan (0.1), Hayes (0.1), Maister (0.1)||Scorers||Jenkins (4.1), Podsiadly (3.0), Petrenko (2.1), Mackay (2.0), Wright (2.0), Betts (1.1), Crouch (1.1), Sloane (1.1), Brown (1.0), Dangerfield (1.0), Douglas (1.0), Kerridge (1.0), Jacobs (0.1), Jaensch (0.1), Laird (0.1), Martin (0.1), Smith (0.1)|
From the moment the ball was bounced for the second term the momentum of this game changed for a final time. Scott Thompson bullocked at the centre bounce to ensure the Crows had the first four centre clearances for the quarter and score from every one of them.
The loose man behind play, allowed by both coaches, worked vaguely well for St Kilda in the first quarter when Sean Dempster amassed possession behind the ball, but it swung decisively Adelaide’s way from then on when Brodie Smith and David Mackay spliced through St Kilda’s midfield as the Crows had 11 shots at goal (for 5.6) to St Kilda’s solitary score.
It was not the fact of the player behind the ball being able to intercept with a mark or fist and redirect play, it was that when Adelaide rebounded through the middle St Kilda players allowed the Crows space and time to move the ball.
The Saints lacked the intensity and commitment to pressure and harass Adelaide as it moved the ball forward. The Crows were allowed the latitude for unbroken chains of play linking from half-back, cut back into the corridor and find myriad forwards inside-50.
Josh Jenkins, overlooked for Shaun McKernan for the first three games, impressed as a target for the Crows, especially early on when the game was in its balance.
Nothing fell right for St Kilda. Nathan Wright broke his leg in a collision with a desperate spoiling teammate. David Armitage required stitches to a gash in a leg and was used only sparingly after the main break.
Tom Curren was one of the few Saints to elevate his game by diligently keeping Paddy Dangerfield out of harm’s way. Sam Kerridge did the same for the Crows on Leigh Montagna.
St Kilda's first two wins were constructed on the vintage form of Nick Riewoldt and again he was the most influential Saint. But he made for a predictable target, and with the loose man allowed for the important portion of the game, he was routinely outnumbered.
Jack Steven proved he was untroubled by the foot injury that had kept him out of the team when he borrowed from Lionel Messi in the first term when he knocked a ball in front of him in the goal square then, under pressure, chose to kick the bouncing ball out of the air and over his head rather than pick it up.
It was a nice a moment of brightness in a day of shade for the Saints.
So many moments typified where and why St Kilda was failing. Such as Clinton Jones in the second quarter weighing up options from a mark to kick inside-50 and lobbed a ball to Sam Jacobs alone and sitting in the hole inside-50. Or Farren Ray breaking through half-forward and spearing a ball directly to another opponent’s chest when all around were St Kilda alternatives.
Or there was the moment of rare freedom in the last when St Kilda broke from the wing and in a moment of impressive delivery speared a flat, low pass to Rhys Stanley who was leading Ben Rutten to the ball. He had his hands out, the ball in front of his eyes. The ball slapped his hand and trickled over the boundary.
It was another sadly uneventful moment in an uneventful game.
As if to salt Carlton’s wounds, Eddie Betts kicked Adelaide’s first two goals in the opening minutes at Etihad Stadium. He gifted another few to teammates and jumped about as lively and dangerous as he has ever been. To stretch a point a little further, Sam Jacobs dominated the ruck.
Carlton heads would have dropped and shook disconsolately. These were an incidental sub-plot to the game, but informing the overall conversation of the weekend.