Port Adelaide has withstood a brave challenge from depleted Adelaide, with Aliir Aliir starring in a thrilling four-point win in Showdown 50 that tightened the Power’s grip on a top-four finish.
The storied rivalry has produced some shock results since 1997, with ladder positions often counting for nothing, and the 50th meeting of the local foes added another epic chapter, with Port coming from behind to score a 7.13 (55) to 7.9 (51) win at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night.
The Crows, still dealing with the fallout from the Taylor Walker racism furore, lost Brodie Smith and Will Hamill to concussion late in the game, but led by 10 points at three-quarter time.
Sam Powell-Pepper goaled to give his side the lead in a pulsating final term, with Charlie Dixon extending that margin soon after, but a Tom Lynch goal set up a frantic finale.
It was only fitting that Showdown Medal winner Aliir broke up Adelaide’s last roll of the dice with another of the intercept marks that had thwarted the Crows time and again.
Travis Boak and Ollie Wines were also important for the Power, who improved its record to 15-5 and made it a clean sweep of Adelaide this season.
The famous victory was their fourth in a row against the Crows and improved the derby record to 26-24 in their favour.
Rory Laird was outstanding for Adelaide with Paul Seedsman prominent on a wing and Jordon Butts a rock in defence.
Showdown 50 went down to the wire. (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
Test without Tex
Would the racism storm that engulfed Adelaide in the days leading up to the match galvanise the team or would the distracted Crows crumble under the pressure?
The answer became apparent as the underdog Crows cracked in early and had their more-fancied opponents on the back foot.
Adelaide led by a point at the first break after Elliott Himmelberg replied to Zak Butters’ opening goal.
They were the only majors for the first quarter, but what the contest lacked in scoring it made up for in pressure, intensity, attack on the ball and work rate from both sides.
Ned nails it
Ned McHenry showed just how much the game meant to Adelaide’s players when he jubilantly grabbed his guernsey in celebration to the home crowd after the first of back-to-back goals late in the second quarter.
Darcy Fogarty was providing a strong presence in attack and he set up McHenry’s second with a brilliant pass that sent his teammate running into an open goal.
Five-time Showdown Medal winner Robbie Gray replaced Todd Marshall in the Power line-up at selection, but the retooled attack registered its lowest halftime score for the season, with just 1.5 to the main break to trail by 19 points.
The Crows led at the main break but the Power found their rhythm thereafter. (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
Smith was subbed out of the game at three-quarter time after he was left bloodied in an accidental clash with Scott Lycett, and the Crows were left a player down after a sickening collision early in the final term.
After a slight nudge from Peter Ladhams, Nick Murray cannoned into Will Hamill at high speed. Murray was able to continue, but Hamill was taken from the field on a stretcher.
CROWS 1.3 4.6 6.8 7.9 (51)
POWER 1.2 1.5 4.10 7.13 (55)
PHELAN’S BEST CROWS: Laird, Seedsman, Butts, Keays, Schoenberg, Doedee. POWER: Aliir, Boak, Drew, Wines, Burton, Bonner.
GOALS CROWS: McHenry 2, Fogarty, Himmelberg, Keays, Mackay, Lynch. POWER: Butters 2, Georgiades, Wines, Fantasia, Powell-Pepper, Dixon.
INJURIES CROWS: Smith (concussion), Hamill (concussion). POWER: Nil.
UMPIRES Power, Deboy, Stephens
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
JASON PHELAN’S VOTES
3 A. Aliir (PA)
2 R. Laird (Adel)
1 T. Boak (PA)
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