Injury-hit Adelaide soars into top four

IN a game where it was as much about those missing as those who took the field, Adelaide's leaders shrugged off a gallant Richmond as the Crows soared into the top four.

He may not have been writing about football, but it's fitting for this game: it was as much about the names that were out, as those that were in and then became a tragedy as the Crows were felled with injury.

As the Crows names started to dwindle with early injuries to Daniel Talia, Lachlan Murphy and Jake Kelly, it was up to their big names - Taylor Walker, Rory Sloane, Eddie Betts and Josh Jenkins - to click into their goal-scoring best to grind out an important 33-point win against an undermanned Richmond.

The win was soured however, as Jenkins - who was huge with four goals - was stretchered from the oval with what appeared to be a serious knee injury.

Crows coach Don Pyke said he was proud of how his players responded when Richmond got within four points in the last quarter, including a huge effort from co-captain Taylor Walker.

"I thought he was presenting well and that makes him hard to play on," he said.

Pyke said early signs were that Jenkins had not suffered an ACL injury, and instead had hyper-extended it, but scans would confirm that news in the coming days.

Adelaide co-captain Taylor Walker had a big say in proceedings. Picture: Sarah Reed.
Adelaide co-captain Taylor Walker had a big say in proceedings. Picture: Sarah Reed.

Pyke said after a poor start to their season, he was pleased to see the side sitting at 8-5, with Geelong awaiting them in 15 days time.

"We're back in the hunt, but the reality is we have to keep winning," Pyke said.

Richmond had limped into Adelaide Oval with a bulging injury list on the back of flogging from Geelong, but it was the Crows who limped from the ground, enduring injuries to their big names.

Praise must be left for the Crows newest name - Reilly O'Brien - who dominated hitouts and ended the night with a huge Champion Data ranking point tally of 181 - the most of any ruckman this year, including Brodie Grundy and Max Gawn.

After a commanding first half from the Tigers, the Crows put in a huge 12 goal second half to march to the 15.11 (101) to 9.14 (68) win.

Despite their absent players including Trent Cotchin, Alex Rance and Shane Edwards, there were still plenty of names out there and they were determined to make Adelaide work for every possession.

One brilliant early passage set the tone for Richmond's night and involved all the big names they had left: Sydney Stack forced a defensive turnover, he bolted out of defence to find Dustin Martin in the centre, who handballed back to the running Stack, who kicked beautifully to find Tom Lynch free just inside 50, who then passed off to Martin who kicked a goal. Plenty of names.

Josh Jenkins is tended to by physios after going down with a knee injury in the final minutes. Picture: Mark Brake/Getty Images.
Josh Jenkins is tended to by physios after going down with a knee injury in the final minutes. Picture: Mark Brake/Getty Images.

It took more than 24 minutes for the Crows to score their first major and that came thanks to a huge Jenkins kick from outside 50, but Adelaide was looking shell-shocked at quarter time.

The second quarter was bizarre: the Crows became more efficient with their ball use - credit to Crouch and Rory Laird who were dominant - and they had 20 inside-50s to Richmond's nine, but they simply couldn't score.

That was until Sloane flew in to take a beautiful mark off a Walker long bomb and goaled from close range. Then a handful of minutes later and in vintage Crows style, Cameron Ellis-Yolmen found the ball after it spilt over a contest and he handpassed to a freely running Eddie Betts and all of a sudden the Crows had hit the front.

But despite all those efforts, the Crows were down by 11 points at halftime before a huge seven-goal effort from the Crows in the third term, led by Walker and Jenkins who were both at their best with second efforts.

Five unanswered goals in the final term sealed the win, including more brilliance from Betts, with his final goal of the game even getting applause from Stack.

Matt Crouch soaks up the applause of the Crows fans after his milestone match. Picture: AAP Image/Sam Wundke.
Matt Crouch soaks up the applause of the Crows fans after his milestone match. Picture: AAP Image/Sam Wundke.

CROUCH MILESTONE

Matt Crouch was celebrating his 100th game and he did it in very un-Crouch-like fashion early. The former Club Champion and All Australian was relatively quiet. At one point in the third quarter, the normally punishing midfielder miskicked to Brodie Smith as the Crows were trying to clear out of defence and Smith was forced to scoop the ball on the half-volley and he shanked his kick, which ended up as a Richmond goal. But he rallied and ended with 35 touches - one more than the week before against GWS when he was returning from a hip injury.

Adelaide ruckman Reilly O’Brien was the dominant player on the ground against Richmond’s rookie ruckmen. Picture: Sarah Reed.
Adelaide ruckman Reilly O’Brien was the dominant player on the ground against Richmond’s rookie ruckmen. Picture: Sarah Reed.

RUCK BATTLE

Talk about a battle of the newbies: This game pitted Reilly O'Brien - coming in with an AFL game tally of 12 - facing off against Mabior Chol - AFL game tally of one, and that was a game played three years ago.

Chol was a late inclusion after Ivan Soldo was ruled out with illness and boy did he play well: he was everywhere; contesting the ruck (he won 13 hitouts), kicking the first goal of the game with a clever toe poke off the ground and taking strong marks down back.

But it was ROB who ruled supreme: he had a mammoth 54 hitouts.

CAPTAIN DUSTY

Who would have thought Dusty would ever captain a footy club? But he's got a good record against Adelaide, so it made sense: in his last four outings against the Crows, he was averaging 27.3 disposals and 2.5 goals a game. And he stood up when needed, no more evident that when the game was in the balance in the third quarter and he intercepted a Brad Crouch kick and snapped at goal for his second of the night. He was Richmond's most dominant player and finished with 32 disposals, nine marks, four tackles and two goals.

Tom Lynch soars above Adelaide defender Kyle Hartigan to mark. Picture: Mark Brake/Getty Images.
Tom Lynch soars above Adelaide defender Kyle Hartigan to mark. Picture: Mark Brake/Getty Images.

THE BACKMEN V TOM LYNCH

The last time Richmond's big name recruit Tom Lynch came to Adelaide in round four against Port, he kicked six goals and was the match winner. When Lynch had his first goal early in the opening quarter, there was a sense of deja vu about the whole thing.

Tom Lynch's first for the night came after Cam Ellis-Yolmen dropped what should have been a mark in the midfield and he was strong with marks. When Talia went down with a groin injury, he was kept quiet by Alex Keath.

News Corp Australia


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