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Crows soar into decider

Lee Gaskin, AFL Media  September 22, 2017 10:18 PM

Adelaide downed Geelong on Friday night to secure a spot in this year's Grand Final - Adelaide Crows,Adelaide Oval

Adelaide downed Geelong on Friday night to secure a spot in this year's Grand Final

Adelaide has romped to its first Grand Final this century, demolishing Geelong by 61 points in Friday night's Preliminary Final at Adelaide Oval.

The record crowd of 53,817 – the largest for an AFL game at the venue – were buzzing from start to finish as the Crows emphatically qualified for their first Grand Final since winning back to back premierships in 1997-98.

Leading by 48 points early in the second quarter, the Crows withstood a 'Dangerwood'-inspired Cats fightback before running away with the game – 21.10 (136) to 10.15 (75).

The Five: Preliminary Final

"The start was fantastic," Crows coach Don Pyke said.

"Our ability to jump out of the blocks and really get pressure on the ball and win our share and hit the scoreboard pretty significantly early got the game flowing the right way.

"We always expected they would come at some point and they were going to have their moments and we kept the scoreboard ticking over that allowed us to maintain that buffer."

Lively forward Charlie Cameron was the hero with a career-high five-goal haul, providing the X-factor for the Crows in the absence of Mitch McGovern (hamstring), while key forward Josh Jenkins chimed in with four majors.

Crows star Rory Sloane was involved in a heavy collision with Patrick Dangerfield (24 possessions, nine tackles, two goals), however he is expected to be free to take his place in the decider against either Richmond or Greater Western Sydney at the MCG next Saturday.

Dangerfield was seeing stars near the end of the second term as he lay motionless on the ground for several seconds before jogging off and playing out the rest of the game.

All Australian defender Rory Laird (31 possessions, 15 marks) was outstanding in his 100th game setting up play across half-back.

Tom Lynch (20 possessions, seven marks, two goals) was pivotal across half-forward, Matt Crouch (31 possessions) and Brad Crouch (29 possessions) did the hard yards in the midfield and winger Paul Seedsman (19 possessions, two goals) continued his late-season resurgence.

The ball movement of the Crows was outstanding. They went through the corridor at every opportunity, taking risks and playing an attacking brand of football.

The Crows repeated their intense stance during the national anthem, every player with their arms by their side and eye-balling the Cats.

It had the desired effect with the Crows blowing the Cats away with a brilliant six goal to one first term.

It was déjà vu for the Cats from 12 months earlier when they trailed Sydney 7.2 (44) to 0.5 (5) at quarter-time in the 2016 preliminary final.

The Crows also showed no signs of rust after just two games in the past month.

After just three disposals in the first quarter, Dangerfield – who started the game at full-forward – was influential in the midfield in the second term, having 12 touches and booting two goals.

Every Crow rated

Selwood (34 possessions, 10 tackles) shook off the attentions of Crows tagger Riley Knight to find plenty of the ball.

Holding a 35-point lead at half-time, the Crows regained their composure after the main break to put the Cats away.

A spectacular grab from Cameron for his fourth goal of the night set the crowd alight.

Steven Motlop's quality finish from tight in the right pocket gave the Cats a faint sniff heading into the last quarter.

But Jenkins' second goal of the game in the early stages of the fourth term started an avalanche as the celebrations kicked off in style.

It was the final game for retiring Cats duo Tom Lonergan and Andrew Mackie.

"We've played some poor footy this year, but rarely has it been giving the ball back to the opposition and allowing them to score," Cats coach Chris Scott said.

"So it was disappointing we chose tonight against a team that punishes you the most on turnovers to do it.

"We butchered some chances which gave them some really good looks, and when they build that momentum, they're really hard to stop."

The Crows reported a clean bill of health. Midfielder Hugh Greenwood only played about half the game and had just six possessions, but coach Don Pyke said he wasn't injured.

Geelong: Midfielder Scott Selwood left the ground in the first quarter with an injury to his left hamstring. Selwood had his hamstring strapped and returned to the bench for the start of the second term. Dangerfield copped a huge hit from Sloane near the end of the second term. Dangerfield was motionless on the ground for several seconds before jogging off the ground. Dangerfield played the second half, but didn't have much of an impact. Joel Selwood appeared to injure his groin in the final quarter. 

The Crows will face either Richmond or Greater Western Sydney in next Saturday's Grand Final at the MCG, while the Cats enter the off-season eager to build on a promising season in 2018.

       6.3       11.7     14.10   21.10 (136)
GEELONG        1.2       5.8       8.11     10.15 (75)

 Cameron 5, Jenkins 4, Walker 2, Betts 2, Lynch 2, Seedsman 2, Jacobs, Otten, M.Crouch, Knight
Geelong: Dangerfield 2, Cockatoo, Duncan, Selwood, Lang, Hawkins, Motlop, Henderson, Menegola

Adelaide: Laird, Cameron, M.Crouch, Seedsman, B.Crouch, Talia
Geelong: J.Selwood, Motlop, Taylor, Mackie, Dangerfield

Adelaide: Nil
Geelong: S.Selwood (hamstring), Lonergan (corked quad), J.Selwood (groin)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Rosebury, Stevic, Schmitt

Official crowd: 53,817 at Adelaide Oval