Main content

Dogs down courageous Crows

Rory Atkins was one of Adelaide's best in Saturday's SANFL clash with Central District
Rory Atkins was one of Adelaide's best in Saturday's SANFL clash with Central District

Adelaide has returned to competition in an emotion-charged contest against Central District in the SANFL on Saturday afternoon.

Only eight days after the passing of Senior Coach Phil Walsh, which forced the cancellation of Adelaide’s scheduled clash with the Panthers, the SANFL Crows fought valiantly in trying conditions at Elizabeth Oval.

The Bulldogs won the match 12.4 (76) to 6.5 (41), but the game signalled another important step for the Club in moving forward from the loss of their revered leader.

Both clubs observed a minute’s silence prior to the first bounce and Adelaide battled bravely in a resilient display that would’ve made Walsh proud.

The home side controlled the contest from the outset, but the margin barely moved beyond three goals until Central District slotted a trio of unanswered majors to stretch out a game-high 35-point lead at the final siren.

It was a bittersweet occasion for the Crows, with the match also marking the return of Andy Otten from his second knee reconstruction.

Otten warmed into the contest down back the longer the game wore on, finishing with 16 possessions and six marks in his first outing in 11 months.

Fellow comeback Crow Sam Kerridge also contributed well with 23 possessions – including 11 contested – and an equal game-high eight clearances in his return from an ankle injury.

Development player Matthew Spencely stole the show for the Crows. The 20-year-old midfielder amassed 28 disposals, six marks and slotted two goals with his work-rate a feature.

Left-footer Rory Atkins also performed strongly with a game-high 29 touches, eight marks and a classy goal off his right boot to spark the Crows in the third term. The classy wingman was named in Adelaide’s AFL squad for the first time in Adelaide’s scheduled match against Geelong prior to Walsh’s passing.

Veteran Ian Callinan gathered a season-best 28 possessions and eight clearances in a valiant performance against his former club, while promoted rookie Reilly O’Brien starred with a career-best 48 hit-outs along with 10 possessions and seven tackles.

SANFL Stats: Round 13

Adelaide also introduced two new faces to SANFL football. Former North Adelaide junior Tyson Lindsay and Broadview youngster Steven Wellington both had their first taste of League football in Crows colours at Elizabeth Oval.

The two teams walked off the ground together as one after the match in another moving mark of respect to Phil Walsh.

Development coach Tate Kaesler, who stepped in as acting SANFL coach in Heath Younie’s absence, said he couldn’t have asked for anything more from the players.

“The result’s disappointing, but after what we’ve been through I’m really proud of the effort from the boys,” Kaesler said.

“It was bloody tough, but I think they would’ve done Walshy proud.”

Kaesler said Crows coaching staff went back to basics during what has been the most challenging week in the Club’s history.

“You never expect anything like this to happen,” Kaesler said.

“It has been tough, but we’ve tried to keep it as simple as possible. The game plan today wasn’t much – it was all about getting out there and having fun and enjoying it.”

“We’re not changing anything. Walshy set out on a journey nine months ago and it would be disrespectful if we didn’t follow that.”

Adelaide’s next SANFL clash is against North Adelaide at Prospect Oval on Saturday, July 18.



ADELAIDE                 1.0   4.1   6.3   6.5 (41)
CENTRAL DISTRICT   3.2   7.2   9.2   12.4 (76)

Spencely 2, Lowden, Podsiadly, Atkins, Ramsey
Central District:
Edmead 3, Waldhuter 2, Retzlaff, Stevens, Goodrem, J. Schiller, Habel, Hoskin, Thomas           

Spencely, Atkins, O’Brien, Shaw, Callinan, Podsiadly
Central District:
Habel, Hoskin, Jansen, T. Schiller, Edmead, Goodrem

Central District
: Nil

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs