We may have a “glass half empty” sort of disposition here at Fumbleland, but that would have to be the most depressing hundred-point victory I’ve ever seen.
Even as the margin ballooned from 40-odd at the half to a record home-ground defeat for Brisbane, I was perched on the edge of my seat, biting my nails to the quick, my only concern that Adelaide hang on for a win without adding to the unfolding carnage.
In the end, the 105-point shellacking was rather more than “hanging on for a win”, and it was all the more gutsy for the fact it was done in 25-degree Queensland heat with only two fit men on the bench (down to one for a long stretch in the final term when Paddy Dangerfield did his weekly “fourth-quarter knee-scare” routine).
But it was that second quarter, nearly 40 minutes of it, that appeared to sum up Adelaide’s season; one minute soaring, the next crashing to earth with a thud. Literally, in the case of poor old Lynch and Otten. The former, it appears, was not badly hurt, a welcome outcome that seemed unlikely when the medicos took what felt like an eternity to lift him onto a stretcher and cart him from the ground. Lynch’s misfortune, happily, seems limited to the fact that every time he runs into some game-breaking form (and he was about our best on the ground in the first quarter), he suffers a momentum-halting injury setback.
For Otten, though, who went down clutching his knee (and not for the first time), it appears to be a 12-month injury, likely his second ACL in his stop-start career that began with such promise as the NAB AFL Rising Star runner-up. (As fate would have it, the man who beat Otten to the 2009 award should have been out there yesterday, but Brisbane’s Daniel Rich is also sidelined by a knee reconstruction.) It’s a cruel game sometimes.
Beyond that, the legacy of this match may well be told this Saturday night, when the Crows meet the in-form Richmond after playing with limited rotations in hot conditions with a six-day turnaround. It would be the one home game in which our now-trademark Yoyo form is somewhat justified, despite a glut of incentives not to capitulate:
- If we win, we consolidate our place in the eight;
- If we lose, we likely relinquish the chance to play finals;
- And, significantly, if Richmond finish above us on the ladder, the Fumbles will have to buy a six-pack of beer for the gentleman with whom we made an ill-advised wager earlier in the season.
But it does make one ask, yet again this year, where does this Adelaide form come from? How can the side that dishes out a record-breaking Gabba defeat against a Brisbane side many fancied as one of the competition’s great improvers be the same side that allowed the heretofore underwhelming West Coast to run riot at Adelaide Oval the previous week?
Remember that Jerry Seinfeld routine on air travel where the comedian muses as to why delayed flights are able to make up for lost time in the air. “If you can go faster,” Seinfeld wonders, “why don’t you just go as fast as you can all the time? There are no cops up here – give it some gas!”
I feel much the same way about the Adelaide Crows. If they have the capacity to play this well, why don’t they just do it all the time? Why go at half-throttle every second week?
Talking of half-throttle, Port Adelaide joyously continued its downward trajectory against Sydney, although to be fair they were far more competitive than the final score suggested. After a wasteful first half, they outplayed the Swans for long, generally fruitless stretches, only for Sydney on each occasion to get a break and bang on a goal against the run of play.
Against my better judgment, I actually went along to this game, which allowed me, from the comfortable confines of a corporate box, to enjoy the dual pleasure of watching the Power getting trounced while their supporters got rained on. Although I must concede having He Who Cannot Be Named line up against Port gave me perhaps my biggest conflict of loyalties since watching Freddy Vs Jason. Fortunately, John Longmire solved this nagging conflict for me by subbing his Number 8 out of the game in the third quarter.
If it’s any consolation, on Saturday’s form I suspect Port will win its next two games (against the Suns and Carlton), allowing them a reasonable crack at the top four, given Freo’s fall from grace. Which is sure to bring a toothless smile to their fans’ faces.
The Crows, meanwhile, could wind up anywhere from 6th to 12th on any given week. The former prospect would give Adelaide Oval’s Stadium Management Authority pause to consider the genuine possibility that the venue may have to host two AFL finals in a single weekend, if Port remain in 5th spot. That’s a scenario that would likely complicate the finals fixture, assuming the ground’s even up to the task.
But, for once, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. First we have to take on the Tigers, who are earnestly catapulting themselves back towards their rightful 9th place berth. If there’s one thing this season’s taught us, it’s that anything could happen.
Tom Richardson is InDaily’s political commentator and Channel Nine’s state political reporter. On Mondays during the AFL season he can be found in InDaily’s sport section, writing this lament – or chronicle of triumph. Time will tell.
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