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Match report: Crows crush Giants in the wet

Lee Gaskin  September 7, 2017 10:27 PM

Highlights: Adelaide v GWS The Crows and Giants clash in qualifying final 1
AFL 2017 First Qualifying Final - Adelaide v GWS Giants

Eddie Betts was the best forward on the ground on Thursday night

MINOR premier Adelaide is one game away from its first Grand Final in 19 years after beating Greater Western Sydney by 36 points in the first qualifying final at Adelaide Oval on Thursday night.

Star forward Eddie Betts (three goals) and All Australian midfielder Matt Crouch (31 possessions, seven tackles) helped the Crows secure a home preliminary final with a 12.12 (84) to 6.12 (48) victory over the Giants in front of a crowd of 52,805.

The only downside for the Crows was a potential season-ending knee injury to attacking half-back flanker Brodie Smith, who has a suspected torn ACL.

Full match coverage and stats 

The Giants are set to be without key forward Jeremy Cameron (hamstring) for their must-win semi-final next weekend against the winner of Saturday night's elimination final between Port Adelaide and West Coast.

The Crows are in their first preliminary final since a five-point loss to Hawthorn at the MCG in 2012, and have taken another step to winning the club's third premiership since going back-to-back in 1997-98.

"It was a real positive first step," Crows coach Don Pyke said.

"We played a quality opposition and played some good footy.

Five things we learned from Adelaide v Greater Western Sydney

"We expected it was going to be a contest, that's always the case in finals footy, and I thought our guys were up for the contest.

"I thought their pressure around the ball was high class, we did a lot of little things right tonight."

Betts continued his recent run of tormenting the Giants, hitting the scoreboard while also giving off a couple goals with clever play in the forward 50.

WATCH: Eddie excels under Thursday night lights

Crouch received great assistance from older brother Brad in the midfield, while skipper Taylor Walker provided a great target in attack, hauling in several contested marks.

With reigning club champion Rory Sloane – recovering from appendix surgery last week - watching from the stands, the Crows put the Giants away with a dominant first half.

After Harrison Himmelberg got the Giants up and running with the first goal of the finals, the Crows booted eight in a row to take a 44-point lead into the main break.

Every Crow rated from the first qualifying final

Smith unloaded with a 55m bomb for the Crows' first goal of the game in the ninth minute, but there was major concern just two minutes later when he was helped from the ground with an injury to his right knee.

Smith applied a tackle on Giants midfielder Josh Kelly, slipped on a piece of artificial turf near the boundary fence and immediately called for assistance, not playing any further part in the game.

The Giants' 1.5 (11) was the lowest first-half score in an AFL/VFL finals game since Collingwood kicked 1.0 (6) in the first half of the 1960 Grand Final.

Every Giant rated from the first qualifying final

Worse was to come when Cameron injured his hamstring late in the second quarter.

Ward, Toby Greene and Coniglio kicked three goals in the first seven minutes of the third term to breathe life into the contest.

However, the Crows responded with four of the next five majors.

The Crows were kept goalless in the final term, but it didn't matter as they cruised to a comprehensive victory.

All Australian midfielder Josh Kelly, Callan Ward and Stephen Coniglio were among the best for the Giants.

Greater Western Sydney coach Leon Cameron said the Giants were hurt again by poor ball use in one quarter, like they were against Geelong in round 23, but he was optimistic they could fix things "quickly".

"That's the difference in the game," Cameron said.

"The first 15, 20 minutes we started well, leaked a couple of late goals, but we had a good start.

"But we're really disappointing in the second quarter.

"I'm confident we can fix it, it's been two one-quarter hits in the last two weeks so we can't shy away from that.

"I challenged our guys at half-time – you can't serve up that sort of footy in finals, and they responded."

Adelaide: The Crows suffered a massive blow with rebounding defender Brodie Smith set to miss the rest of the finals campaign with a torn ACL. Smith injured his knee in the first quarter.

Greater Western Sydney: Key forward Jeremy Cameron injured his hamstring late in the second term and is set to miss next week's semi-final against Port Adelaide or West Coast. Stephen Coniglio hurt his knee in a collision with Jeremy Cameron but played out the match, and coach Leon Cameron expects the midfielder will be available next week.

The Crows can put their feet up ahead of a home preliminary final at Adelaide Oval in a fortnight. Meanwhile, the Giants have no more second chances when they host the winner of Saturday night's elimination final between Port Adelaide and West Coast.

ADELAIDE                                3.4   8.7  12.8  12.12 (84)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 1.4   1.5   5.7   6.12 (48)

Adelaide: Betts 3, Douglas 2, Smith, Seedsman, McGovern, Walker, Jenkins, Lynch, B. Crouch
Greater Western Sydney: Coniglio 2, Himmelberg, Ward, Greene, de Boer 

Adelaide: Betts, M.Crouch, Lynch, B.Crouch, Jacobs, Brown, Greenwood,
Greater Western Sydney: Kelly, Coniglio, Scully, de Boer, Ward 

Adelaide: Smith (knee)
Greater Western Sydney: Cameron (hamstring), Coniglio (knee)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Dalgleish, Rosebury, Ryan

Official crowd: 52,805