Freo falls to Crows
ADELAIDE 1.3 4.7 8.9 12.9 (81)
FREMANTLE 4.1 7.2 8.4 11.5 (71)
Adelaide: Walker 5, Porplyzia 3, Dangerfield, Wright, Tippett, Vince
Fremantle: Mayne 3, Walters 3, Ballantyne, Ibbotson, Fyfe, Suban, Pavlich
Adelaide: Walker, Smith, Rutten, Scott Thompson, Porplyzia, Vince, Reilly
Fremantle: Mundy, Johnson, Walters, Barlow, Duffield, Fyfe, Sandilands
Adelaide: Sam Shaw (left hamstring), Jared Petrenko (right shoulder)
Adelaide: Sam Shaw (left hamstring) replaced by Graham Johncock at quarter time
Fremantle: Garrick Ibbotson replaced by Nick Suban at three-quarter time
Umpires: Nicholls, Meredith, McInerney
Official crowd: 31,742 at AAMI Stadium
A five-goal haul from Taylor Walker has seen Adelaide down Fremantle by 10 points at AAMI Stadium to advance to a preliminary final.
The Crows were put under intense pressure by Freo, which bolted to a 29-point lead early in the second quarter, but Walker was the catalyst for a stirring second-half fightback that saw the home side prevail 12.9 (81) to 11.5 (71).
Adelaide will now play Hawthorn on Saturday week for a place in the Grand Final.
Walker turned the game on its head in the third quarter, booting two goals and gift-wrapping another to forward partner Kurt Tippett as the Crows booted five unanswered goals either side of half time to take the lead for the first time.
Adelaide coach Brenton Sanderson said the Crows were pleased with their win, particularly after it looked as though Fremantle was going to run away with it early, but promised celebrations would be short.
“It’s important we understand we’ve just won a semi-final and that puts us in a position to play in a prelim,” Sanderson said.
“So you enjoy it, we review it and then we get on with our next opponent.
“The season’s not over for us. As happy as we feel now and as relieved as we feel after that first quarter or six goals to one against, it’s important to get back to business now, recover well, review, and we’ll get on with the Hawks as soon as we can.”
The opening to the match was eerily similar to Adelaide’s qualifying final loss to the Sydney Swans less than a week earlier at the same venue.
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon had clearly gone to school on the Crows’ inability to handle the stifling pressure of the Swans’ flood, and his players were able to replicate that pressure for much of the first term as Freo bounded away.
Chris Mayne was the star up forward with three goals for the quarter, but much of the credit for the visitors’ bright start lay further afield where his hard-working teammates forced Adelaide’s midfielders into hasty decisions with the ball in hand.
David Mundy (30 disposals) and Michael Barlow (20) were key players around the ball as Freo worked the numbers at the stoppages to their advantage more often than not.
As was the case against the Swans, the Crows didn’t help their cause with some poor conversion in front of goal when they were able to manufacture a rare forward foray.
A 16-point quarter-time margin became 29 just minutes into the second term as Mayne and Hayden Ballantyne kicked truly, but to their credit, the Crows had also learned a thing or two from their first final.
Despite a brain fade from Walker that gifted Garrick Ibbotson a goal after a 50-metre penalty, Adelaide slowly started to work its way into the match.
Master tagger Ryan Crowley focused his attentions on Crow midfielder Patrick Dangerfield, leaving Scott Thompson (27 possessions) to make the most of his breathing space.
Jason Porplyzia got the ball rolling for the Crows with a clinical set shot, but it was Walker who made the bigger statement with a goal after the siren to drag the deficit back to 13 points.
Fremantle’s early ascendancy appeared a distant memory as Adelaide dominated disposal after the restart, with Walker helping himself to another two goals to have the home fans on their feet.
Matthew Wright gave the Crows their first lead of the night 17 minutes in, and the match was evenly poised at the last break with Adelaide in front by five points.
A quick goal to Nick Suban was followed by another from Matthew Pavlich, who was well held by Ben Rutten for most of the night, as Fremantle surged again early in the final term.
Adelaide steadied with a long goal by Bernie Vince, and Walker then stood tall one last time, nailing his fourth with a set shot and then kicking the Crows’ last goal with three minutes to play that secured a hard-earned win.
Lyon was left to lament Freo’s inability to maintain the momentum gained from its brilliant start.
“That’s footy – if you don’t play for four quarters you miss an opportunity,” Lyon said.
“I thought Adelaide persisted until it turned their way.
“There were signs [of trouble] late in the second and the third quarter and then we fought back in the fourth, but they just had a little bit more polish when required.”
Adelaide’s win came at a price, with Jared Petrenko in tears after injuring his right shoulder in a tackle just before the final siren. Earlier, defender Sam Shaw was substituted out of the game in the first quarter with a left hamstring injury.