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Showdown anticipation at fever pitch after comeback Crows salvage draw

Football

Flag favourites Adelaide could welcome back three key stars for a highly-anticipated Showdown with Port Adelaide, with the buildup reaching fever pitch after both SA sides staged remarkable weekend comebacks.

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Crows forward Mitch McGovern yesterday kicked a goal after the siren to seal a heart-stopping draw with Collingwood at the MCG, while on Saturday Power genius Robbie Gray’s match-winner against St Kilda pinched a two-point win with just seven seconds remaining at Adelaide Oval.

The Crows sit four points clear on top of the ladder after playing out the unlikeliest of draws against Collingwood. In a high-scoring, unpredictable, shootout, the Crows looked flat-footed early, trailing by 50 points early in the third quarter before they conjured up an astonishing comeback to secure a 15.13 (103) to 16.7 (103) result.

Adelaide closed within three points in the final term before Collingwood rallied with three goals in as many minutes, leading by 21 points midway through the quarter when a sublime Daniel Wells booted his third goal for the match.

But the Crows would not be denied and booted the next four majors, with McGovern’s epic pack mark and calm and collected set shot from 30m cementing the third draw of the season.

The Pies had tried desperately to hold on but allowed Jake Kelly to mark uncontested before McGovern’s huge contested mark and smooth finish secured the two points.

It was a remarkable finish for the Crows, who booted 13.4 in the second half after managing just 3.4 in the first.

Adelaide coach Don Pyke described the result as “bittersweet”, saying he thought Collingwood had deserved to win the game.

“We sort of stole a couple of points at the end,” he said.

“Some of the things we did in the early part of the game just weren’t to the level. But then at 50 points down, they kept persevering and found a way to give themselves a chance.”

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley was left frustrated by his side’s failure to execute their game plan after halftime.

“It’s pretty clear – if you give Adelaide turnover opportunities, they’ll take them,” he said.

“They’re the best in the comp at it, and we weren’t able to take that away from them for long enough.”

Crows forwards McGovern (four goals), Jenkins (three) and Otten (two) proved the difference in the second half, while Matt Crouch (36 disposals, nine clearances) was immense in the midfield.

Wells and Taylor Adams were superb for Collingwood, each finishing with 34 disposals and three goals, with Levi Greenwood’s hard tagging restricting Rory Sloane to 16 touches.

The Crows have a tough run ahead with Sunday’s clash against fifth-placed Port followed by games against Essendon at Etihad Stadium, Sydney and West Coast in Perth.

Star forward Eddie Betts, prime mover Brad Crouch and key defender Jake Lever could all make a timely return from injuries for the game against the Power.

Lever, who like McGovern is off-contract at season’s end and likely to attract big offers from a number of rival clubs, has been sidelined for the past fortnight with a hamstring strain.

Betts missed the game against Collingwood after having his appendix removed, while Crouch suffered a fractured cheekbone during last week’s win over Geelong.

“The prognosis on all those guys is pretty positive,” Pyke said.

“They should all be available at this point. We’re optimistic on all three.”

The prognosis was not so positive for returning defender Kyle Hartigan, who suffered another hamstring injury early in the Crows’ SANFL side’s 17-point loss to Glenelg at Bordertown Oval yesterday.

But Adelaide should nonetheless be bolstered for what promises to be one of the more keenly-anticipated crosstown clashes.

“They’re great games, they always have been, and where the two sides are positioned on the ladder probably adds a little bit extra to it,” said Pyke.

“The importance of wins at this time of the year, in terms of ladder position and finishes, is real so it’s a great opportunity.”

-AAP

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