Taylor Walker celebrates a goal during the R20 clash between Adelaide and Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval on July 29, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

THE COLEMAN Medal race isn't over. And, more importantly, neither is Adelaide's season.

The Crows still have a pulse after Taylor Walker booted a Showdown-equalling record of seven goals in a vintage performance to upset Port Adelaide by 47 points at Adelaide Oval, taking their season off life support in the sweetest possible fashion in front of 50,023 fans on Saturday night.

CROWS v POWER Full match coverage and stats

After dropping three games in a row – and four out of five following the mid-season bye – Adelaide remains in the finals hunt after leading from start to finish to level the Showdown ledger at 27 wins apiece with the 16.16 (112) to 9.11 (65) victory.

Adelaide doesn't have any lives yet if it is going to return to September for the first time since 2017, but it remains alive heading into the final month of the home and away season for the first time under Matthew Nicks' watch.

Walker won the Showdown Medal after one of the best performances of his 256-game career in the week where the 33-year-old signed a new deal for 2024, moving to within six goals of Carlton superstar Charlie Curnow in the Coleman Medal race. 


But it wasn't all about the former skipper. Matt Crouch reminded the football world of his quality in just his third game of the season – and only second start – finishing with 32 disposals, 15 contested possessions, 12 clearances, seven inside 50s and six tackles in his best performance in years.

Adelaide captain Jordan Dawson already has two Showdown Medals on his resume and stood up again on the big stage, this time finishing with 34 disposals, 15 contested possessions, nine score involvements and 640 metres gained. 

Wayne Milera provided plenty of drive off half-back with 32 touches and 680 metres gained, while three-time Malcolm Blight medallist Rory Laird made a seamless return from injury with 26 disposals and a game-high 13 tackles. 

The Crows looked ominous from the outset. Ben Keays provided the Crows with the perfect start when the ball slipped through Aliir Aliir's hands and landed in the hands of the Crow in the goalsquare. Walker made it two from two halfway through the first quarter when Keays kicked a ball out of the air that found the veteran on the lead. 


It took 18 minutes for Port Adelaide to score after Charlie Dixon made Mark Keane pay for a mistake deep inside 50. The Irishman was shaky early, but didn't let it affect him. The Crows dominated the opening quarter and led by two goals at the first break after Shane McAdam kicked a goal after the siren from right on the arc. 

After holding his spot despite Laird returning from a shoulder injury, Crouch made a fast start and was involved in everything in the first half. The opportunity-starved All-Australian midfielder won the ball at the coal face and was equally as damaging on the outside. 

With the chance to put some breathing room between themselves and Brisbane on the ladder, Port Adelaide was on the back foot from the start and never got near the Crows. When Walker dribbled his third goal before the main break, Adelaide led by 22 points and should have been further ahead, before Darcy Fogarty threaded the eye of the needle just before the main break to give the Crows a 29-point margin.


Port Adelaide finally turned up early in the third quarter, but the fast start didn't. Walker nailed one of the great Showdown goals when he baulked Aliir on the mark, then slotted his fourth goal from outside 50 on his left foot. 

The Power had more than a handful of chances to capitalise but wasted chances. Dixon took two big marks and turned the ball over both times. Jeremy Finlayson and Connor Rozee both missed set shots. When Francis Evans burst through like a flash and snapped his third goal, the margin was only three goals and the game was far from over. 


Enter Walker, again. This time, the 33-year-old struck one flush from outside 50 directly in front after Dawson guided a ball into his path. And he wasn't done with yet. The Broken Hill product nailed his sixth just before three-quarter time, then added a seventh early in the fourth quarter. 

When the former skipper took a mark 35 metres out and then unselfishly dished off to Keays in the square, the Adelaide crowd groaned. They wanted another Tex goal. But they weren't complaining. They were able to sit back and enjoy the last 30 minutes stress free. 

The year-on-year improvement under Nicks' watch is now real. From three wins to seven to eight and now nine. The Crows may need to win all four games to play finals, but you can't rule them out just yet. 

Adelaide players pose with the Variety Showdown Shield after winning the R20 match against Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval on July 29, 2023. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Brutal Power clash
When Aliir Aliir and Lachie Jones collided in a marking contest early in the second quarter, Port Adelaide looked like it would be two down before half-time. Play stopped for a couple of minutes to allow Power trainers to lead both players off the ground. But minutes later, Aliir was cleared to return to play, despite looking like his night was over. Jones was ruled out with a migraine.


Irish spirit
When Fischer McAsey made the decision to retire in January, Mark Keane reached out to Adelaide list manager Justin Reid, 12 months after opting to remain in Ireland rather than seeing out the final year of his deal at Collingwood. After Keane built form in the SANFL, Matthew Nicks turned to the hurling star after Nick Murray ruptured his ACL last Sunday. Keane was handled the colossal task on Charlie Dixon and overcame a shaky start to show he has a future. With Jordon Butts going down, the County Cork product becomes even more important for the Crows' finals push.

Mark Keane kicks the ball during the R20 match between Adelaide and Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval on July 29, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Coleman race not over
Just when the Coleman Medal looked almost over, it is still alive. Taylor Walker kicked a personal best 10 goals on this ground against West Coast earlier this year, but this was every bit as good, given the quality of his opponent. With the ink still drying on the one-year extension that will see the 33-year-old play on for a 16th season in 2024, Walker terrorised All-Australian Aliir Aliir at Adelaide Oval. Charlie Curnow started the night 13 goals clear after kicking six goals on Friday night. Now the margin is six goals after Walker finished with seven majors.


ADELAIDE     4.2    8.8    11.11   16.16    (112)
PORT ADELAIDE 2.2    4.3     7.7     9.11     (65)

 Walker 7, Pedlar 2, Keays 2, Fogarty 2, Murphy, McAdam, Sloane
Port Adelaide: Evans 4, Duursma, Dixon, Finlayson, Boak, Wines

Walker, Crouch, Dawson, O'Brien, Milera, Laird, Fogarty, Hinge
Port Adelaide: Butters, Evans, Rozee, Houston, Dixon

 Butts (ankle)
Port Adelaide:Jones (migraine), Bergman (groin)

Rory Sloane replaced in the selected side by Jake Soligo
Port Adelaide: Nil

Rory Sloane (replaced Jordon Butts in the second quarter)
Port Adelaide:
 Travis Boak (replaced Lachie Jones at half-time)

Crowd: 50,023 at Adelaide Oval