MELBOURNE 4.0 7.2 8.4 11.4 (70) ADELAIDE 1.1 2.4 5.10 9.13 (67)
GOALS Melbourne: Dawes 3, Salem, Tyson, Kennedy-Harris, Viney,Watts, Jamar, Jones, Bail. Adelaide: Jenkins 2, Podsiadly 2, Dangerfield 2, Petrenko, Crouch, Thompson.
BEST Melbourne: Viney, Dawes, Vince, Kennedy-Harris, McDonald, Tyson. Adelaide: Dangerfield, Jacobs, Smith, Sloane, Thompson, Laird.
INJURIES Adelaide: Lynch (concussion), Jaensch (heavy knock). Melbourne: Georgiou (concussion).
UMPIRES Donlon, Chamberlain, Bannister.
CROWD 44,216 at Adelaide Oval.
Any doubt that Melbourne was a much improved side this season was removed at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night when the Demons produced one of their best wins in years, rolling the Crows by three points.
It ended a 17-game losing streak in South Australia since 2001, and was a remarkable turnaround after losing to the Crows by 68 points at AAMI Stadium in round 22 last season.
Under Paul Roos, and with influx of young talent and quality recruits including Bernie Vince who was impressive against the club that dumped him, the Demons clearly indicated in the opening six rounds they were capable of beating most sides if they could improve their skills. Well, they must have found them at training during the week because they stunned Adelaide.
Adelaide trailed by 36 points early in the second quarter and came within four points 16 minutes into the last quarter, with yet another inspirational goal by Patrick Dangerfield. It was a time when someone needed to stand up from either side, and Jack Grimes was the first when he lunged and spoiled a certain mark to Dangerfield, which probably would have netted another goal.
The ball went down to the Demons' Lynden Dunn who marked against three opponents, kicked to Jack Watts, who with a free kick found Mark Jamar, who goaled. Suddenly, the team that was supposed to crack was thriving under pressure.
Jamar has made a huge difference to Melbourne since returning from injury, and his younger teammates learnt from, and became inspired by, his tenacity.
In the first half, it was Adelaide rather than Melbourne that was responsible for bad turnovers, being indecisive, and poor ball-handling skills. And it was Melbourne that showed class with brilliant transition, hitting targets from 40-50 metres, and playing with great teamwork and passion.
Melbourne deserves more credit than suggesting Adelaide "had one of those days" or was caught napping – the Crows were simply outplayed. Their structures collapsed under early pressure and they paid heavily for kicking blindly towards goal. Watching a seasoned campaigner like David Mackay kicking to Eddie Betts in the goalsquare while he was surrounded by three opponents was incomprehensible.
Time after time Adelaide blazed towards goal, and on one occasion, Jeremy Howe took one of his trademark grabs before sending the Demons charging.
Entering the game Adelaide was the No.1 side for scores in the second term and Melbourne one of the worst, but 3.2 to 1.3 said otherwise. It seemed an inconsequential quarter of football, but to change the trend may set a positive path for Melbourne.
There was so much to like about this rejuvenated Melbourne side, particularly its willingness to dare to take the game on with the players backing each other to the hilt.
Among the numerous positives for Melbourne was the brilliant performance of Jay Kennedy-Harris, worthy of a NAB Rising Star nomination in just his seventh AFL game. His wizardry and willingness to take everyone on was inspirational, and another reason for Melbourne fans to turn up against the Western Bulldogs at the MCG next Saturday night.
Both sides were denied key players in the first quarter when Melbourne’s Alex Georgiou and Adelaide’s Tom Lynch collided heavily and were subbed out of the game. The impact for Adelaide was that it was denied an effective forward, because in the first half the attack was dismal.