There was some debate before the weekend past that it was best not to take this Geelong game terribly seriously, given Port once beat them at home and duly celebrated the triumph, only to front up against them again five weeks later in a Grand Final and lose by 119 points.
So, by that rationale, the weekend was definitely a success, as we have now avoided the looming prospect of losing a Grand Final to Geelong by 119 points.
Indeed, the odds of Adelaide losing a Grand Final to anyone by 119 points blew out considerably on Saturday night, if one optimistically notes that there you are absolutely no chance of being shellacked in the AFL decider if you are not actually participating in it.
There was also some talk this past week about the supposed Simonds Stadium Hoodoo (which was actually originally called the Shell Stadium Hoodoo back when it began and has since also been known as the Skilled Stadium Hoodoo and – briefly – the Baytec Stadium Hoodoo).
But we were assured having James Podsiadly on our coaching panel would ensure we had plenty of inside info on how to play the Cats at home.
I imagine the conversation went something like this:
DON PYKE: Hey, J-Pod, in your experience, what’s the best way to play the Cats at home?
J-POD: Well, back in my day, we would just ensure we gave the ball to Corey Enright as often as possible.
DON PYKE: Great, good idea. I’ll tell the boys.
Unfortunately, the cunning plan was evidently lost in translation somewhere, but at least it meant Enright, in his club record-equaling game, will probably steal a Brownlow vote or two off Paddy.
Seriously, what was the deal with Corey Enright on Saturday night and why did our game-plan apparently revolve around kicking the ball straight to him?
You know that scene in Being John Malkovich where John Malkovich enters the portal into his own head and ends up being haunted by a sea of Malkoviches? (If you don’t, this analogy is gonna sound pretty crazy, I guess, but bear with me…)
Well, Enright was so ubiquitous that our every foray forward seemed to send us into some otherworldly portal populated by nothing but a swathe of Corey Enrights.
This was about the point of the season that I had expected the 34-year-old South Australian to fall into a proverbial hole. But in the event, we did instead.
The Crows were simply outmuscled, outmaneuvered and outrun.
Believe me, I never, ever thought I’d say this… but even in the sodden conditions we missed the zip of David Mackay – remembering that he played his best game against Melbourne last year in a similar downpour.
We were also largely outcoached, with Adelaide again allowing Geelong to push them to the wings where – much like the Power did against the Cats last year – they repeatedly kicked the ball out on the full.
But still, to the victor go the spoils, and all that.
Or in this case, to the victor go the spoils, the smothers and all the other one-percenters that they did so much better than us.
Have I mentioned lately that I dislike Geelong?
I used to find them quite sympathetic, despite all the premierships (possibly because they’re one of the relatively few teams never to have beaten us in a final, and also because of the aforementioned 119 points). But the whole Dangerfield thing has definitely soured the relationship, and now handing us not one but two defeats in less than three months – our two biggest defeats for the year, mind you – well, that really puts the Cats on what we’ll politely call “Richo’s Shitlist”.
It also smarts losing to anyone called “Ruggles”, who sounds like some ill-advised kids’ TV show, a hideous cross between the Rugrats and the Wiggles.
The loss has pushed us out of the top four, albeit only percentage shy of a coveted top-two finish and home qualifying final.
With the AFL fixture’s nearest equivalent to a two-week vacation ahead – home games against Essendon and the Lions – if we don’t just win but stratospherically bolster our percentage, we should probably sack the coach, the board and all our players and start over.
But let’s look on the bright side here.
After all, history has long shown that we’re utter crap at home qualifying finals anyway (Saints in ’05 ring a bell? Swans in ’12?)
And despite the carnage that seemed to be unfolding in the final quarter – with the game gone, Talia iced up on the bench and the jarring spectre of Charlie Cameron’s knee apparently giving way – there are still teams far worse off than us.
The Western Bulldogs the obvious case in point, whose season hit the wall in the most horrific fashion while we were flailing away at Kardinia Park on Saturday night.
In fact, but for the want of a combined 14 points across two matches, we’d still be in the four, with Sydney and West Coast doing their utmost to throw their respective games against middling opposition.
The Eagles, in particular, look little like premiership fancies right now, with Melbourne outplaying them on their home deck before succumbing to some awful finishing.
Seriously, watching the Demons trying to kick a goal during their second term domination was like water torture; Governments could genuinely use this as a device to wear down terror suspects, provided they weren’t also West Coast supporters.
Elsewhere, the Kangaroos put in their bid to limp triumphantly into eighth spot, in a Friday night match that basically summed up their entire season in a single game.
They began in a blaze of glory, skipping to an imposing lead, before collapsing as Collingwood reeled them in.
And then rallied at the last, to restore a modicum of respect.
What it all means for North remains unclear, with another eight-point game beckoning against the mercurial St Kilda before a horror run taking in the patched-up Bulldogs, Hawthorn, Sydney and GWS.
But what it meant for Port was probably more significant, given last night’s result.
I’m not sure how to feel about this game.
On the one hand, GWS won – pushing Adelaide another rung down a ladder that now looks as unstable as that Ladder Of Opportunity that Mark Latham used to bang on about back when people used to listen to him.
But on the other hand… Port lost.
And one should never look a gift-horse in the mouth.
One of life’s sweetest sights is watching from the comfort of your sofa as Power supporters leave a match disappointed and rain-soaked.
And they lost despite the best efforts of Brad Ebert, who finished the game looking like he’d turned up for “Dress Up Like a Pirate Day” on the wrong date, and who has been so pummelled and poleaxed in recent weeks it’s a wonder he’s still standing at all.
But, as Geelong did with the Crows, GWS found another gear – and another level of grunt – in the third term, and the home side never recovered.
Port’s finals aspirations now seem as unlikely as a Mark Latham political comeback, but even they can look on the bright side.
At least they won’t have to worry about losing another Grand Final to Geelong.
Touch of the Fumbles is InDaily’s weekly AFL column, published each Monday during the AFL season. Yes, it’s shamelessly biased. Even up the score in the comments section below.
Make a contribution to independent news
A donation of any size to InDaily goes directly to helping our journalists uncover the facts. South Australia needs more than one voice to guide it forward, and we’d truly appreciate your contribution. Please click below to donate to InDaily.