Crows must beat Bombers to clinch berth - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Crows must beat Bombers to clinch berth

By Daniel Brettig 11/08/2008 06:44:29 PM Comments (0)

There is very little rhyme, reason or logic about Adelaide's inability to defeat Essendon in Melbourne.

Across 17 years and 11 premiership fixtures the Crows have never beaten the Bombers on their home turf.

The hex even extends to pre-season matches, where the record stands at Essendon two, Adelaide nil.

On some occasions the Bombers have been healthy favourites, but on others the Crows have still found a way to lose despite form, ladder position and overall quality suggesting they must surely win.

In their 1997 premiership year, Adelaide contrived to lose at Princes Park to an Essendon side that finished a lowly 14th.

Last year at Telstra Dome Adelaide coach Neil Craig emphasised the imbalance in the build-up to the round 17 fixture, but it did little good as his team fell 12 points short of the Bombers in one of Kevin Sheedy's final games as coach.

So there will be plenty of meaning for the Crows if they can notch a finals-clinching 12th win of the season against Matthew Knights' team this Saturday.

"We've got the opportunity to get 12 next week against Essendon and we've never beaten Essendon in Melbourne in the history of our club," Craig said.

"Hopefully it's not one of those clubs where for some reason you just can't do it.

"That'll be a challenge for us, but where we sit it's important we keep the pressure on ourselves."

There will be several reasons for Craig's men to feel optimistic of defying history this week.

It will be the first time they are not opposed to the coaching wiles of Kevin Sheedy, who masterminded a memorable Bombers comeback from 42 points down at halftime of the 1993 preliminary final - the sort of result that can spook a team.

Secondly, the Bombers are far from their best right now, having just been beaten by an undermanned West Coast in Perth.

Thirdly, Adelaide's younger brigade is showing an ability to lift to a new level, as exemplified by the outstanding form of captain-in-waiting Nathan van Berlo over the past two weeks.

Having averaged around 20 disposals over his career, working much of the time as a tagger, van Berlo burst through his personal ceiling with returns of 40 and 32 against Carlton and Richmond.

"The last two weeks he has (gone to another level), it's yet to be seen longterm, but certainly he's just purely from volume of possession, that's not the be all and end all, but he hasn't experienced that consistently and been able to do it the last two weeks," Craig said.

"I think he will continue to grow as a midfielder, he's in our senior leadership group, he's a very important player for our football club, and hopefully he'll be here for 10 years.

"He's been asked to do (tagging) roles but now with Rob Shirley, Bryce Campbell and Richard Douglas starting to take those roles over, Nathan's gone into another phase of his development."

The Crows will be lacking gifted midfield option Bernie Vince this week, but Brent Reilly appears an ideal replacement after he made a strong return from a knee strain via SANFL side Sturt.

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