ADELAIDE has turned the finals race upside down, stunning Greater Western Sydney for its second straight win and placing the Giants' post-season hopes in jeopardy.
The Crows and their rookie coach, Matthew Nicks – Leon Cameron's senior assistant at GWS last season – had suffered 13 losses in a row until their 35-point victory over Hawthorn seven days ago.
CROWS v GIANTS Full match coverage and stats
They rode a 10-2 clearance dominance to a three-goals-to-one opening term and never trailed, despite the Giants threatening to run over the top of them at various stages.
Ex-Adelaide ruckman Sam Jacobs kicked the only major in the final quarter – a remarkable effort after grabbing the ball in the goalsquare – but the Crows hung on for an 8.11 (59) to 7.5 (47) triumph.
GWS faces fellow finals contender Melbourne on Saturday, then sixth-placed St Kilda in round 18, and may need to win both to book a fifth consecutive post-season trip.
The result was a boon for both the Demons and the Western Bulldogs, the Dogs reviving their own chances with an upset win over West Coast on Sunday night.
Adelaide set up the victory at the coalface, with Rory Laird's emergence as an onballer continuing with a match-high 11 clearances and 18 contested possessions.
No other player had more than five, although the Crouch brothers, Brad (31 disposals, four clearances) and Matt (27, 12 tackles), and skipper Rory Sloane (seven score involvements) were influential as well.
The Crows also defended extremely well, strangling the Giants' ball movement to the point they had only 26 inside 50s compared to Adelaide’s 49.
Former teammates Reilly O'Brien and Jacobs had an entertaining ruck duel, with the former narrowly taking the honours despite both having their moments.
There was plenty else to like for Adelaide, which got two goals apiece out of big improvers Elliott Himmelberg and Shane McAdam.
Lachie Whitfield (29 disposals, game-high 553m gained) was again GWS's best player and looked the man who could win them the game, but there was nowhere near enough support.
Tim Taranto (23 disposals, five clearances) and captain Steve Coniglio (20) were good too, but there is now genuine concern whether the Giants will get the chance to redeem their Grand Final loss.
Show-stopper Bobby delivers dual highlights
Ian 'Bobby' Hill's been something of a slow burn since Greater Western Sydney traded into the second round to draft him two years ago. However, he's been a good contributor since returning to the side in round 13. Hill put on a one-man highlight reel against Adelaide on Tuesday. Firstly, he slotted a brilliant first-quarter goal from deep in the pocket – with the Giants in desperate need of one – but he saved an even better moment for the third term. The Crows forced GWS to kick down the line for much of the night, but it wasn't a problem on this occasion, with Hill soaring over 202cm Adelaide ruckman Reilly O'Brien to snatch a huge grab.
Himmelberg v Himmelberg episode I
Tuesday night's match pitted the Himmelberg brothers, Harry and Elliott, against one another for the first time. Their parents, Maryanne and Kevin, were in the stands with specially designed scarves representing both clubs. Interestingly, Adelaide placed a bid on Harry in the 2015 NAB AFL Draft, only for the Giants to match it. Harry's a couple of years older and has overshadowed Elliott until this season, but the big Crow's development in 2020 has been impressive. He also had a greater impact on this contest, kicking two goals and grabbing a would-be mark over his big brother in the third quarter. The only problem was the incoming kick was touched, but Elliott had the last laugh when Adelaide toughed out a 12-point win.
Plenty of eyes on Hately
We all love a selection call with a bit of spice. On this occasion, it was second-year GWS midfielder Jackson Hately, who came in as a late inclusion for Zac Langdon (illness). Hately, of course, is a South Australian – and the Crows are sniffing around. He was the No.14 pick in the 2018 NAB AFL Draft, but, like so many others across the years, has struggled to crack the Giants' strong onball rotation on a regular basis. With Adelaide having an eye on the future, a local talent such as Hately would fit the bill perfectly. GWS football boss Jason McCartney told SEN SA on Tuesday morning that Hately was "a required player". "What we love about Jackson is he's so honest and reliable and he just works at his game … (but) players want opportunity as well … we certainly rate him and we would love to be able to retain him and keep working through with his manager, but he's a high-quality young man and he's got strong potential." Watch this space.
ADELAIDE 3.3 3.7 8.7 8.11 (59)
GWS GIANTS 1.1 3.3 6.3 7.5 (47)
Adelaide: E.Himmelberg 2, McAdam 2, Stengle, Walker, Sloane, M.Crouch
GWS Giants: Finlayson 2, Hill, Caldwell, Jacobs, Cameron, Shaw
Adelaide: Laird, B.Crouch, M.Crouch, O'Brien, McAdam, E.Himmelberg, Sloane
GWS Giants: Whitfield, Taranto, Coniglio, Haynes, Hopper, Jacobs
GWS Giants: Langdon (illness) replaced in selected side by Hately, Corr (ankle)