Adelaide Crows’ first quarter set up big win over West Coast Eaglesphotos, video

Crows’ opening blitz sees them soar over Eagles | photos, video Nic Naitanui of the Eagles win a ruck knock during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.
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Dom Sheed of the Eagles kicks under pressure from Patrick Dangerfield of the Crows during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.

Taylor Walker of the Adelaide Crows reacts after the finals siren during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.

Sam Jacobs of the Crows cops a knock during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.

Rory Sloane of the Crows attempts to tackle Luke Shuey of the Eagles during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.

Nic Naitanui of the Eagles and Sam Jacobs of the Crows contest possession during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.

Jack Darling of the Eagles flies for a mark during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.

Eagles and Crows players compete for a mark during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.

Matt Crouch of the Crows runs with the ball during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.

Taylor Walker of the Crows bumps Jeremy McGovern of the Eagles during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.

Jeremy McGovern of the Eagles and Josh Jenkins of the Crows compete for the ball during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.

Josh Jenkins and Rory Sloane celebrate a goal during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.

Josh Jenkins of the Crows marks the ball during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.

Josh Jenkins celebrates a goal during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.

Jack Darling kicks for goal during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval. Photo: Getty Images.

TweetFacebookAdelaide 8.3 9.6 4.8 19.12 (126)defeatedWest Coast Eagles 0.1 5.4 6.6 10.9 (69)

GOALS – Adelaide:Jenkins 6, Walker 3, Betts, Lynch, Cameron 2, Dangerfield, Sloane, Knight, Atkins.West Coast:Le Cras, Cripps 2, McGinnity, Hutchins, Kennedy, Sheed, Shuey, Sinclair.

BEST – Adelaide:Dangerfield, Jenkins, Talia, Smith, Jacobs, Laird, Sloane.West Coast:Sheed, Shuey, Gaff, Rosa, Priddis, Sheppard.

INJURIES– McGovern (left shoulder).REPORTS– Nil.UMPIRES– Stevic, Chamberlain, Meredith.CROWD53,445 at Adelaide Oval.

The remarkable Phillip Walsh spoke of creating a masterpiece and on Sundaythe team he so sadly left behind painted a brilliant one at Adelaide Oval that overwhelmed everyone,especially the West Coast Eagles.

Never in Adelaide’s 25 years have they produced a more stunning and authoritative opening quarter –8.3 to 0.1 – setting up a terrific 57-point surprise win that has denied the Eagles a chance of claiming top spot going into the finals.

The Crows haveGeelong to play at Simonds Stadiumand perhaps seventh spot in sight. But forget the notion the Crows will be making up the numbers in the finals. This was an astonishing win against a genuine premiership threat.

And with 53,445 fans making big noise – the biggest non-showdown AFL attendance at this ground – sneaking a home-town final now comes into the equation.

The first term was the Eagles’ worst since being scoreless against Footscray in round 23, 1992 – the season they won their first premiership – and it was Adelaide’s best since round 22, 2011.

In key match-ups, Patrick Dangerfield was better than Brownlow medallistMatt Priddis, Daniel Talia outplayed the likely Coleman medallist Josh Kennedyand Sam Jacobs outclassed Nic Naitanui.

Remarkably, in brilliant conditions Adelaide kicked the first nine goals, West Coast the next five to look as if they would make a great recovery, before the Crows kicked the next five. The Eagles were expected to respond to Adelaide’s incredible start, but that the Crows also respond with a steady and disciplined third quarter was admirable.

At one stage of that first term Adelaide had six goals from 10 inside-50 entries. They had 46 more disposals and dominated the uncontested possessions 71-32 which was a reflection of the frenetic pace they moved the ball around.

However, the real big difference compared with most matches this season was Adelaide’s decision-making. They were always prepared to play-onbut at crucial times players, especially Tom Lynch, who has become a vital link-man, waited and attacked with precision. They refused to be rattled by the Eagles and make too many mistakes under pressure.

West Coast got within 24 points in the second term with a lift inmidfield, but the Crows’ defence, led by Talia, Brodie Smith and Rory Laird, stood up remarkably well. The much-talked about Eaglespowerforwardshad a really tough day.

Adelaide lookso dangerous when Josh Jenkins is in the goal-kicking mood like he was on Sunday. He marked powerfully, and perhaps more than Taylor Walker is the key to their scoring power. Jenkins kicked goals when the Eagles threatened to steal this game, and he finished with a career-best six goals.

Another significant key to this win were the performances by newcomers Rory Atkins and Riley Knight. Their enthusiasm was infectious; their decision-making process belied their handful of gamesexperience.

West Coast had won their previous three games herebut were for most part denied the ability to start their forward thrust from defence. The Crows’ forwards held the ball in their 50-metre zone so well, pressuring the Eagles into mistakes and causing turnovers.

Adelaide amassed 78 more disposals, and had a far better efficiency rate. However, the Eagles clearly won the clearances by five including eight more centre clearances. Most other statistics were generally even.

Perhaps the telling factor was Adelaide led the inside-50 marks 19-13, an indication that the Eagles’ shorter defence may prove a concern in the finals. Adelaide’s ability to work the ball forward quickly and find targets like Jenkins and the much shorter Eddie Betts exposed weaknesses.

The Crows have enjoyed some great wins over the years, but this one was special because of the finals structure, and especially because when they last met in the 15th series and lost by 56 points it was full of so much emotion following the death of Walsh.

Walsh would have loved the speed in which the Crows moved into their 50 zone, the unrelenting pressure on the man and the fight for the ball, and particularly the outstanding teamwork. It was a selfless, committed performance. It was pretty as a picture; a masterpiece.

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