Adelaide beat Essendon in four-point nailbiter
The Adelaide Crows showed they have the confidence and the class to win close games in escaping with a tense four-point AFL win over Essendon.
Spearhead Taylor Walker kicked four goals in the 16.8 (104) to 15.10 (100) win but the Bombers missed some vital chances to steal the game in the dying seconds on Sunday.
Captain Jobe Watson kicked wide from 30 metres and Tayte Pears dropped a mark he probably should have taken, with coach James Hird frustrated the side was so close to a fifth interstate win of the season.
Adelaide coach Brenton Sanderson said while his team didn’t play to the level fans had come to expect, it was pleasing they still found a way to win, something that could be vital come finals time.
“This gives us the confidence that we can win the close ones,” he said.
“That’s the third time this year we’ve won a game by less than 10 points. We’ve shown that we can win the close ones when it matters.”
As well as Walker’s four goals, Patrick Dangerfield booted three and had 29 disposals in a best-on-ground performance while skipper Nathan Van Berlo was inspirational at times and ruckman Sam Jacobs did well, taking key marks around the ground.
For the Bombers, Watson had 31 touches while Jason Winderlich kicked four goals before tearing a hamstring and leaving the ground, adding to the team’s long list of soft tissue injuries in just his second game back from a knee reconstruction.
Leroy Jetta also played well along with Nathan Lovett-Murray, while Alex Browne chipped in with two important goals.
Hird said he was proud of the team’s effort against Adelaide but conceded they needed to win soon to shore up their spot in the top eight.
“We’ve won 11 and I think you have to win 13 to expect to make it,” Hird said.
“But as a coach you learn very quickly not to look past the next week.”
“We know it’s going to be tough but these boys have come up every week and given it a real crack.”
Essendon certainly had a crack against Adelaide in the opening half with Winderlich booting three of his four goals before the break to give the Bombers a 22-point lead.
The Crows stormed back into contention in the third term, booting seven goals to three to take a one-goal lead into the final term.
Essendon had the bulk of the play in the final quarter, bringing the ball inside 50 metres on 21 occasions but failed to capitalise.
For the Crows, Graham Johncock and Walker kicked vital majors, allowing Adelaide to hang on for their 14th win of the season and to take second spot on the ladder.© AAP 2013