Crows’ flag hopes in tatters after loss to Kangaroos

Davida Erdahl

The Crows were lacking plenty of on-field experience with many premiership stars out with injury. And that, combined with the wet weather, proved too much for the visitors who went down 9.9 (63) to 3.3 (21). Adelaide dropped to fifth (with five games still to be played) on the conference […]

The Crows were lacking plenty of on-field experience with many premiership stars out with injury.

And that, combined with the wet weather, proved too much for the visitors who went down 9.9 (63) to 3.3 (21).

Adelaide dropped to fifth (with five games still to be played) on the conference A ladder with a 2-3 record.

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Ebony Marinoff (26 touches) and Anne Hatchard (23 disposals) worked super hard for the Crows but they were given little support.

Debutant Montana McKinnon showed glimpses in the ruck with 16 hit-outs and eight disposals but, similar to many on the field, lacked the experience to know how to turn the momentum.

The big loss also hurts Adelaide’s percentage as it drops to 80.3 and, with just three minor rounds remaining it will be tough, for the Crows to earn a finals berth.

CROWS SUFFER EARLY BLOW

Adelaide was dealt an early blow with Najwa Allen being forced to withdraw from the side just before kick-off with a calf complaint.

Youngster Chelsea Biddell, who the Crows selected with their final selection at last year’s national draft, replaced Allen.

Allen is also in her debut AFLW season, but Adelaide missed the reigning SANFLW Best and Fairest winner’s hard running and ability to win the ground ball.

Biddell performed OK with six disposals, two marks and two tackles, but lacked the knowledge of were to best position herself and the speed to match her North Melbourne opponent.

TASTE OF WINTER ARRIVES IN TO HOBART

It was a nice, sunny 25 degrees in Adelaide on Saturday but the Crows were forced to grind it out in cold, wintry conditions in Hobart against North.

Rain came down hard and strong in the second quarter and the temperature was just 13 degrees.

But it did not seem to matter to the Kangaroos as they adapted so well to the wet weather.

Although the total inside-50 count was close, the hosts made better use of their opportunities up forward, especially in the second quarter, in which they recorded six to Adelaide’s one and built a 28-point lead.

CROWS LACK EXPERIENCE

Erin Phillips, Chelsea Randall, Courtney Cramey, Eloise Jones, Jessica Foley Deni Varnhagen — they are just a few premiership stars who were missing from Adelaide’s line up against the Kangaroos on Saturday.

And the absence of those experienced players really hurt Adelaide, especially in the midfield and in defence as the hosts were left to roam free.

The Crows’ usual ball-winners (Ebony Marinoff and Anne Hatchard) were solid and tried to create some opportunities for Adelaide in attack.

But Adelaide coach Matthew Clarke refused to use it as an excuse.

“In reality she (Phillips) is coming back from a long term injury so I don’t think we need to put too much load onto her shoulders,” Clarke said.

“Clearly we had a younger side out there but we had enough talent on the park to get a better outcome than we did.”

Marinoff (26 touches, five marks, 11 tackles) and Hatchard (23 disposals, three marks and eight tackles) were just left to do it all.

Only six of their teammates finished with more than 10 possessions, while none (apart from Marinoff) recorded more than eight tackles.

FINALS HOPES FADE FOR CROWS

With the AFLW only being an eight-round season, the Crows’ finals hopes are quickly fading.

Adelaide moves to a 2-3 win/loss record following the defeat to Kangaroos and will find it seriously hard to earn a finals berth as they must finish in conferences A’s top three.

The Crows take on third-ranked GWS at Richmond next Sunday Gold Coast away the following round before ending the season against Richmond.

All those matches are winnable, if Adelaide can start getting some players back and return to their free-flowing game plan.

But they might also need to rely on other results going their way to make the major round.

NO SCORE SECOND TERM

The reigning premiers are known for their high scoring, gut-running game and that was what helped them win their second flag last season.

But the tables were turned in the clash with North Melbourne and it was the Kangaroos who used the width of North Hobart Oval to run and carry the football.

The hosts held Adelaide scoreless in the second quarter and goalless in the third.

Danielle Ponter booted Adelaide’s first major six minutes into the first quarter.

Clarke said North Melbourne was “the superior team on the day”.

“The second and third quarters in particular, they (North Melbourne) were able to get on top and use the open side of the ground pretty effectively,” Clarke said.

But it was all one way traffic going the Kangaroos’ way until Ponter kicked a behind 12 minutes into the third term.

Adelaide matched North Melbourne in the final stanza — the hosts kicked 2.1 while the Crows booted 2.1.

Stevie-Lee Thompson broke her tag to kick the Crows’ two goals in that last term.

But the damage had already been done and the visitors never recovered from those dismal second and third quarters.

THE ASHMORE SHOW

North Melbourne forward Kaitlyn Ashmore was unstoppable in trying conditions.

Ashmore booted four goals in the Kangaroos’ fourth-straight win and set up at least three.

The 28-year-old, who lined up with Brisbane for two seasons before joining North in 2019, was also instrumental around the ground.

Ashmore ended the game with 11 disposals and four tackles.

She did, however, have plenty of support from her teammates and the load was certainly shared around.

Former Bulldogs players Emma Kearney (26 touches, six tackles) and Jenna Bruton (25 possessions) and Ashleigh Riddell 24 disposals, five tackles) all played a major part in North’s big win which has helped prime the Kangaroos for finals action.

SCOREBOARD

North Melbourne 9.9 (63)

Adelaide 3.3 (21)

BEST — North Melbourne: Kearney,Ashmore, Burton, Riddell, Garner. Adelaide: Marinoff, Hatchard, A Foley, S Allen, Rajcic.

GOALS North Melbourne: Ashmore 4, Abbatangelo, Garner 2, E King. Adelaide: Thompson 2, Ponter.

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