BEST: Adelaide Walker, Laird, Sholl, Lynch, Sloane, Keays
Geelong Dangerfield, Guthrie, Parfitt, Stewart, Higgins, Stanley
Taylor Walker (Adelaide) 8
Rory Laird (Adelaide) 8
Lachlan Sholl (Adelaide) 7
Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong) 7
Cam Guthrie (Geelong) 7
Adelaide absorbed a chaotic deluge of injuries and a fierce Geelong fightback to produce a courageous, captivating boilover for the ages.
Last year’s wooden spooner looked to have broken last year’s runner-up with a devastating display of ferocious chasing and tackling, skilful linkwork and clinical forward finishing to open up a 43-point third-quarter lead before the Cats charged back into the contest.
Geelong opened Adelaide up and sliced the deficit to 19 points at three-quarter-time and 11 points with four minutes left in the fourth when Gryan Miers goaled but the Crows somehow held on, despite a monster injury ward and overwhelming odds against them.
Cats superstar Patrick Dangerfield faces an anxious few days with his decision to bump Jake Kelly likely to come under MRO scrutiny after his clash of heads left the Crows defender bloodied and concussed.
Dangerfield (26 disposals), stewing all off-season on a disappointing display in last year’s grand final loss to Richmond, overcame a quiet start when he was sitting in the goalsquare to help Rhys Stanley will the Cats back into the contest.
Adelaide set up the victory with a stunning, scarcely believable first half. Taylor Walker wound back the clock with five goals, his fourth coming after the half-time siren to give the Crows a 38-point lead and have the Adelaide Oval crowd in raptures.