When Brad Hill goaled on the run in the opening 90 seconds, few would have predicted how dour and dirty the next hour or so of footy would be.
Darcy Tucker converted late in the opening term on the back of a Riley Knight turnover to give Fremantle a five-point quarter-time lead.
The Dockers were held scoreless in the second term – yet still led at half-time. The Crows had a 16-10 edge in inside 50s but their 0.3 return prevented them from stealing back the lead.
It was a game of territory and congestion but it was calamitous stuff at times.
Eddie Betts missed two shots he would normally gobble up and sent another out on the full, Knights falconed a lead-up mark, Jesse Hogan spilled a routine chest grab and best-afield Fyfe, in a rare lapse for him, chipped a kick inside-50 straight to opponent Bryce Gibbs.
When Elliott Himmelberg shanked a shot from the 50-metre arc after the half-time siren, unwanted history was created by both sides who combined for the equal-fifth lowest scoring second quarter in VFL/AFL history and the worst since 1968.
Fremantle’s 2-1 goal advantage at the break would have been more appropriate for the A-League final between Adelaide United and Melbourne City in the western suburbs at Hindmarsh.
Hugh Greenwood’s 55-metre bomb early in the third stanza gave Adelaide the lead and threatened to open the gates before Elliott Himmelberg, Lachlan Murphy and Brodie Smith dominated the time-on period in the third to help the Crows finally unshackle themselves from Freo’s iron-fisted grip.
SWALLOWING THE WHISTLE EARLY
In what has been variously described as Umpire Appreciation Week, umpires Chris Donlon, Robert Findlay and Brent Wallace let the play flow during the opening term.
One day after big GWS ruckman Shane Mumford conceded nine kicks himself against St Kilda, the umpires at Adelaide Oval whistled just three kicks for the entire quarter.
Early in the second stanza, the parochial crowd was less than appreciative when Tucker should have been pinged for holding the footy after having prior opportunity before trying to fend off Cam Ellis-Yolmen.
HILL’S GRASS BLUE
The umpires definitely didn’t get it right when Eddie Betts was tackled by Luke Ryan and should have been pinged for holding the ball late in the third term.
But Brad Hill would be the one who ended up red-faced.
Play-on was the call and Lachlan Murphy, after pouncing on the footy, was collected high by Nathan Wilson.
Murphy’s shot sailed wide but he earned a second bite at the cherry and a gift from the goalsquare thanks to a brain fade from Brad Hill who copped a bizarre 50-metre penalty after appearing to throw a chunk of grass in Murphy’s direction.
NAT RIGHT IN THE RACE FOR CHARLIE
Nathan Fyfe’s impact was slowed somewhat after half-time as the Crows started getting on top but his dynamic first half (21 possessions, five clearances) when the contest was on in earnest will likely see him earn some love from the men in green.
Former teammate Lachie Neale, young Carlton bull Patrick Cripps and 2016 winner Patrick Dangerfield will be among the early clubhouse leaders but Fyfe will be right on their hammer, if not in front.
1.3 1.6 5.9 7.9 (51)
2.2 2.2 3.2 5.4 (34)
GOALS – Adelaide: Keath, Smith, Betts, Himmelberg, Greenwood, Murphy, Walker.
Fremantle: Tucker 2, Hill, Taberner, Walters.
BEST – Adelaide: M Crouch, B Crouch, O’Brien, Ellis-Yolmen, Lynch, Laird.
Fremantle: Fyfe, Ryan, Walters, Mundy, Langdon, Nyhuis.
UMPIRES: Donlon, Findlay, Wallace.
CROWD: 42,383 at Adelaide Oval.
Nathan Fyfe (Fremantle) 7
Matt Crouch (Adelaide) 7
Brad Crouch (Adelaide) 7
Luke Ryan (Fremantle) 7
Reilly O’Brien (Adelaide) 7