Crows book finals berth - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Crows book finals berth

By Adam Cooper 31/08/2007 11:40:51 PM Comments (0)

Adelaide have secured their place in the AFL finals and their reward for beating Collingwood at Telstra Dome might be a rematch in an elimination final next week.

The Crows' hard-fought 14.10 (94) to 11.9 (75) victory means they cannot be overtaken from outside the eight in round 22, and will ensure both they and the Magpies play sudden-death finals next weekend.

Adelaide captain Mark Ricciuto, whose career would have been over had his side lost, proved he can still be a match-winner, as he booted two crunch goals in the final term to keep his premiership dream alive.

The Crows' other old stagers, half-back Andrew McLeod and onballer Tyson Edwards, were also instrumental in the win.

This weekend's other results will determine where both clubs finish, although they cannot go any higher than fifth.

Collingwood will not drop below sixth place, which means they will play Adelaide again if Hawthorn beat Sydney on Sunday.

The result means ninth-placed St Kilda will be playing only for pride against Richmond on Saturday, as the Saints were banking on a Collingwood win to keep their season alive.

Adelaide made their intentions clear from the start, as they were the better polished and efficient side in the first quarter and raced to a 21-point lead at the first change.

The Magpies fought back in the second quarter and after dominating possession, closed the gap to two points at the main break.

In a neck and neck third term, Collingwood's Anthony Rocca brought the margin to a gettable eight points with an excellent kick after the siren.

Rocca then had the chance to close the gap to under a goal with a shot from 50 metres early in the last, but missed.

Adelaide then showed how clinical they can be, as the Crows whisked the ball downfield to Ricciuto, who kicked truly from a similar distance and angle from where Rocca missed.

Ricciuto booted another, his third, before two Collingwood goals gave the home side hope.

But the Crows nailed home the sealer following a shocking free kick paid against Magpie defender Shane Wakelin, who was deemed to have toe-poked the ball deliberately out of bounds.

Crows flanker Brent Reilly booted a goal from the play to ensure Neil Craig and his side will feature in the finals for a third successive season.

Onballer Scott Thompson, backman Nathan Bock and 150-gamer Brett Burton, who kicked three goals in his milestone game, were also influential.

Rocca finished with three goals for Collingwood, whose best was young midfielder Scott Pendlebury (two goals) and running defenders Heath Shaw and James Clement.

Craig said it was a great effort of the Crows to reach the finals after winning four of their last five games.

"To be in charge of your own destiny was good and in the end to win those three games is something our playing group and club can be proud of," he said.

Craig was pleased his side steadied after half time, although he admitted Adelaide's task from here was very difficult.

The Crows are the only team of the past decade to have won the flag from outside the top four (coming from fifth in 1998), and Craig acknowledged a repeat would be very tough.

"It will be played under different

circumstances, we'll continue to play the rest of our football in a must-win, knock-out competition.

"This time last year we had the buffer of a second chance, so that will be a good experience for us.

"It will be a huge challenge to carry it through until the end, and that's what we're aiming for of course and most of those will be away games, so whilst we've got some elation tonight, the task is certainly still ahead of us and there are still some quality teams sitting in the top eight."

Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse agreed stringing together a dreams finals run was very tough.

"Very difficult. Four wins against quality opposition is always difficult," he said.

"What you have to do is go through the year and outside of West Coast, certainly Geelong and maybe North Melbourne, there are very few sides that are able to get four or more wins in a row.

"If you dissect the ones that have won a lot of games, have they played four quality sides in a row and see what their net outcome is.

"It's difficult but it's not unachievable. It's there to be done. At some stage someone will do it, but that week's rest, the home finals they do tend to wear other sides out."

Craig declined to discuss what he would change if Adelaide played Collingwood next week, but Malthouse was hopeful his side could improve.

"I'd like to think there's a lot of players who would have chosen different options, the type of kick," he said.

"You don't go out to drop a mark or miss a shot on goal or kick from fullback and find an Adelaide player."

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