Like two honeymooners heading down for a buffet breakfast in their resort we’ve all awoken satisfied with life the last couple of days and isn’t it great?
First and foremost we take home a valuable 4 points, that’s the most important part and let’s not deny the joy derived from beating the corporate monsters from the swamp. It’s glorious.
It could have been a disaster though and I don’t want to gloss over that, lots went wrong in that last 5 minutes and it could have really, really cost us. It looked like a 1 point loss was in our face after being 4 goals up early in the last quarter. Can you imagine?
Early on the script was playing out as we are growing accustomed to. Midfield breaking even or winning their share, forwards out of position and shots on goal are rushed and under pressure or being taken from far and wide. 11 shots to 10 in the first half and we’re 21 points down, not for lack of endeavour but for lack of finishing polish. We’ve been here, we’re in it but we’re not finishing it.
Then it’s time to bask in the glory of that 3rd quarter. Unbelievable. 12 shots on goal, 7 majors, 5 in the quarter to the little champ Robbie Gray and we get a glimpse of what happens when our midfield creates the chances AND the forwards take them. Ryder was sensational in this quarter, while Gray did the finishing it all started with the big man in the middle leaping high and directing the ball down to our contested mids. Wines, effective, Powell-Pepper angry and smashing packs, Rockliff showing what he’s capable of when fit inside and outside the contest. He was brilliant in his first real stand out game in the Port Adelaide guernsey. 30+ touches with clearances and tackles. He would have enjoyed his first Showdown and hit the pillow knowing he played his role.
Wingard played his role, too. He took Laird up and down the ground making sure Laird couldn’t drop off the contest to be the extra at the feet or in the air around Gray. Unseen, unrewarded but very important. For a bloke who missed 1 week with a hamstring Wingard covered some ground and did an exceptional job on Laird who had 12 disposals at ¼ time and looked like he was set to marshal the Adelaide back half and create their forward thrusts.
Neade had the Adelaide defenders looking around for him while Polec, Westhoff, Boak, Ebert and Byrne-Jones all had moments where they needed to impact the game and they did. 13 players with 20 touches or more a look at how our midfield / forward mix runs deep. Watts, terribly quiet up until half time got involved in the last quarter, too.
In the back half Tommy Jonas threw a blanket over Betts and if not for Betts snapping a miracle and getting on the end of a weak effort from Gibbs ( Gibbs had Ryder bearing down on him on a loose ball, Gibbs throws his left foot at it and volleys it 30m onto Betts’ chest ) we may have been in a more comfortable position with 5 minutes to go. 10 marks and 21 touches from Jonas has him up in the best for us on the weekend. He’s critical to our back half playing tall and small.
17 points up ( I mentioned to my son, I don’t like 17 point leads ) and oh no….YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS! Betts gets that one from Gibbs, Walker emerges from the shadows he’d been hiding in all night to launch one and then what was Wingard thinking? Centre’s a high one to a 3-on-1 with SPP going towards goal and it’s back into McGovern’s hands before I can scream words unfit for writing in here. ****.It looked lost. It looked like it was over.
Under a minute….Ryder taps down, Greenwood kicks forward, Howard bangs it, Neade ten-pins a few down, Sammy….to Motlop…..to Motlop….MOTLOOOOOOOP!! MOOOOOTLOOOOOOOPPPP!!!!! Now averaging 18 disposals, 1 goal, 2 tackles and 3 I50’s a game he’s contributing more each week.
Have you heard a louder roar than that one? Can you imagine the cups of tea around Adelaide that got knocked onto the apricot slice trays? I can and it makes me feel like those honeymooners.
Dave’s best : R.Gray, Rockliff, Ryder, Jonas, Wingard, Neade
An important victory in the context of the season. Round 8 and we’ve played 4 of the current top 8 with 2 wins and 2 losses. Shanghai bound for the hapless Gold Coast before the weekend off.