Taylor Walker in top form as Crows beat Suns

Adelaide 5.2 9.7 12.9 16.13 (109) Gold Coast Suns 5.1 8.3 11.6 11.11 (77)
GOALS Adelaide: Walker 5, Jenkins, Betts 2, Podsiadly, Douglas, Laird, Smith, Jaensch, Lyons, Mackay. Gold Coast: Prestia 2, Ablett 2, Dixon 2, Kolodjashnij, Matera, Hall.
BEST Adelaide: Walker, Smith, Dangerfield,Podsiadly, Jaensch, Sloane. Gold Coast: Swallow, Prestia, Ablett, Dixon, O’Meara, Smith.
INJURIES Adelaide: Jacobs (hip). Gold Coast: McKenzie (shoulder), Stanley (shoulder).
UMPIRES D. Margetts, T. Burgess, J. Mollison.
CROWD 49,069 at Adelaide Oval.

“Tex” Walker was back with five goals and the city was crowing again because of a 32-point win, but Gold Coast Suns coach Guy McKenna left in the sunset seemingly more perplexed about the length of the Adelaide Oval grass - “The hairiest I have ever seen this year,” he said.

Just two rounds after upsetting Collingwood with claims Adelaide Oval had the softest - but, in fact, loudest - siren that gifted Adelaide a goal, the Suns slipped-and-slid in the afternoon mist leaving McKenna to ponder whether the growth was deliberate.

“It was the longest I have seen a grass in the AFL,” McKenna said. “I don know whether that was by design or not. Was there a public holiday on Friday? May be they need to switch the blades down a bit, I thought. It’s just an observation; it was still green.”

The comments partially deflected the obvious - the Suns had three more inside-50 entries, but were dominated by Adelaide’s higher contested possession count and ability to handle the conditions and effect from a 49,069 crowd that wasn’t able to drown out the siren.

The Suns are still to beat Adelaide and, like Collingwood two rounds earlier, the Crows held their opposition goal-less in the last quarter.

McKenna said: “Collectively, it is probably our biggest crowd we have played in front of this year. In our history as a football club we have not had to do that a lot. For us to absorb that, get challenged hard, to weather that and see our way through was the most pleasing thing up until three-quarter time.”

It is five consecutive rounds now that Adelaide has shown vastly different form, and coach Brenton Sanderson said he could understand the frustration of the fans.

“Our belief, the way we are training and the easy way we are preparing our players is still no different to how it was before round one,” Sanderson said. “Our players still understand how we play; we just need to replicate that winning form for longer in games.

“Today we played more like a four-quarter performance; we had an even contribution from 22 players.”

And, of course, Big Tex was back to something like the form before his knee reconstruction last year.

It wasn’t so much the five-goal tally that made Walker so good. Even his opening goals in the third and last quarters gave the Crows a much-needed boost, his mere strong presence, defensive pressure that he once sorely lacked, and especially his impeccable teamwork.

Combined with the performances of Eddie Betts and James Podsiadly - whose teamwork and general play was also outstanding, plus another stout effort from Josh Jenkins - Sanderson’s belief that Adelaide had a forward structure that would be the envy of other clubs was strengthened.

The Crows didn’t do it easy with ruckman Sam Jacobs copping a “corked” hip that puts him in doubt for next Sunday’s match against Fremantle at Patersons Stadium. He was subbed at three-quarter time, and his replacement, Matthew Wright went on and had 12 disposals, such was Adelaide’s team effort on the day.

The Suns also had concern with shoulder issues inflicted upon Trent McKenzie and Danny Stanley, but the club is hopeful they will play against the Sydney Swans at home on Saturday.

The Suns also didn’t let up on the battering Patrick Dangerfield has been handed this season, and for most part the Crows’ most influential player seemed to be struggling to remain in the game. He looked tired and sore, and rarely got a disposal away without being crunched or sat upon.

Yet, remarkably, Dangerfield persisted like a Trojan, and his mounting hard-ball gets became more decisive and rewarding. Unfortunately, the overall turnovers delivered a sense of wastefulness about Adelaide’s game; so much work to win the ball and opportunities so easily tossed away.

As always, Gary Ablett also copped plenty of crunches from the opposition, and was restricted to 25 disposals including 18 contested possessions, six tackles and two goals. We said “restricted” flippantly, but based on his usual stats yesterday’s minder Sam Kerridge did very well.

The Suns had a host of other top performers, especially David Swallow and Dion Prestia, while Adelaide’s quality all-round team effort, including many highlights from Daniel Talia in defence, was just too strong.

The Suns will learn a lot from this game, but it may prove to be more than a pain in the grass.

This story Taylor Walker in top form as Crows beat Suns first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.