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Match Report: Dons v Crows

Nick Bowen afl.com.au  August 12, 2017 10:12 PM

BTV: RD 21 | Hooker's booming boot A 50m penalty brings Cale Hooker within range to kick a monster goal.

Adelaide has strengthened its hold on top spot and all but guaranteed itself a home qualifying final with an impressive 43-point win over Essendon at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

The Crows set up their win with seven consecutive goals from midway through the second term that put them 44 points up by the 12-minute mark of the third term.

The Bombers threated to get back into the game at times but never got closer than 19 points, and in the end could not match the Crows' class.

And with four of the game's last five goals the Crows stretched the final score to 18.15 (123) to 12.8 (80).

Adelaide is now a game and a half clear of second-placed Greater Western Sydney with two rounds remaining, and two games and a whopping 27 percentage points ahead of Geelong in third.

Even if the Crows lose their final two games against Sydney (Adelaide Oval) and West Coast (Domain Stadium), the Cats would need a football miracle to make up their percentage deficit in their remaining matches against Collingwood and GWS.

Adelaide's victory was its fourth win in a row against the Bombers but it had to work harder for this victory, its previous three having come by an average margin of 86 points.

Matt Crouch (a game-high 35 possessions and seven clearances) was the Crows' prime mover through the midfield and was well supported by Richard Douglas (23 possessions and two goals) and Brodie Smith (23 possessions and two goals), while defender Luke Brown held Essendon danger man Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti goalless.

Josh Jenkins (3.2 and 11 marks, four contested) killed off Essendon's faint hopes of victory with two last-quarter goals, while Taylor Walker (two goals, seven marks and five inside 50s) was at his creative best in attack.

The Adelaide skipper provided one of the night's highlights with a brilliant centering pass late in the third term that set up a Smith goal that broke a run of four consecutive Essendon majors.

Essendon's loss means it is no longer in control of its own destiny with regard to making the finals.

The Bombers are now outside of the top eight and the winner of the Melbourne-St Kilda clash at Etihad Stadium on Sunday will push them down to 10th position.

The Bombers will start favourites against Gold Coast and Fremantle over the final two rounds, but will have to rely on some of the teams above them slipping up.

The Bombers' best moments on Saturday night came through their twin towers in attack, Joe Daniher and Cale Hooker.

Daniher kicked the opening three goals of the second quarter to turn a 19-point quarter-time deficit into a one-point lead after 10 minutes of play.

And when the Crows looked on track for a percentage booster, Hooker stepped up with three goals in the third term – two from outside 50m – as part of a four-goal Bomber run that brought them back within 19 points.

Hooker kicked another booming goal in the final term as the Bombers kicked the opening two goals to cut the Crows' lead to 21 points inside nine minutes of play.

Daniher finished on three goals to take his season tally to 59, just one goal behind West Coast spearhead Josh Kennedy.

Michael Hurley (34 possessions and eight marks) was outstanding for Essendon in defence, while first-year defender Andy McGrath was handed the daunting job on Eddie Betts, but rose to the occasion, finishing with 25 possessions while holding the Crows star to just seven possessions and a lone behind.

Betts produced a rare piece of magic midway through the second quarter. Taking the ball near the boundary line, Betts tapped it over McGrath, ducked out of play and around the Bomber, darted back into play, gathered his own tap on the full and shot off a pass to teammate Rory Atkins.

Betts' pass only went five metres but Atkins had time to kick long and find Tom Lynch. The hard-running forward then converted with a clever around-the-body snap, but the goal belonged to Betts.

Dons great Jobe Watson had a quiet night after announcing his retirement this week, but sent the Bombers faithful into a frenzy midway through the third term when he goaled from 50m.

MEDICAL ROOM
Essendon: TBC.

Adelaide: Taylor Walker came from the ground in the first quarter to have his ankle assessed and, again, had treatment at quarter-time. But the Crows captain started on the ground at the start of the second term and played out the game strongly. Rory Sloane came from ground late in the third quarter after accidentally kicking Bomber defender Matt Dea's leg and went into the rooms for assessment. The star midfielder returned at the start of the final term with his left knee strapped and played out the game.

NEXT UP

The Bombers will travel to the Gold Coast to take on the Suns next Saturday night, having lost two of the teams' three clashes at Metricon Stadium.

The Crows have a six-day break ahead of a home Friday night clash against Sydney. The Crows have lost five of their past six games against the Swans, but have split their two matches at the Adelaide Oval.

ESSENDON     2.2       5.4       9.7       12.8 (80)
ADELAIDE       5.3       10.6     14.9     16.15 (111)

GOALS

Essendon: Hooker 4, Daniher 3, Stewart 2, McKenna, Watson, Colyer
Adelaide: Jenkins 3, Douglas 2, McGovern 2, Walker 2, Smith 2, Greenwood, Lynch, Knight, Atkins, Mackay, B.Crouch

BEST 

Essendon: Zaharakis, Hurley, McGrath, Hooker, Daniher, Leuenberger

Adelaide: Atkins, M.Crouch, Douglas, Smith, Sloane, Laird

INJURIES 

Essendon: Daniher (finger)

Adelaide: Walker (ankle), Sloane (left leg)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Dalgleish, Williamson, Pannell

Official crowd: 38,487 at Etihad Stadium