Suns have no answer for hungry Crows
Make no mistake: this was a game of redemption.
When both Adelaide and Gold Coast ran onto Metricon Stadium to start the game, it was on the back of both clubs enduring tough weeks: both coming off demoralising losses (the Crows thrashed in the Showdown by 57 points and Gold Coast pounded by Richmond by 92 points); both sets of fans shaking their heads; both coaches calling for greater intensity.
But three hours later, only one team was redeemed: Adelaide, beating the sinking Suns by 95 points in a handy percentage-booster, with the 23.13 (151) to 8.8 (56) win their biggest against Gold Coast.
Meanwhile, the Suns put up as much resistance as a wet tissue and questions will be asked of this club for weeks to come.
After kicking five goals for the entire game last week, this week the Crows forwards (and even one defender in Luke Brown) had kicked five majors by quarter time.
Adelaide unleased in the second quarter - capitalising on Gold Coast errors - scoring 4.1 from turnovers, while midfielders Wayne Milera and Rory Sloane were taking strong intercept marks as Brodie Smith rotated alongside them.
Rory Atkins (in his best game of the year), Hugh Greenwood and Brad Crouch were in the business of picking up disposals (they finished the night with 35, 22 and 25 respectively).
New recruit Tyson Stengle had fun kicking two second-term goals and suddenly, the Crows had turned a 22-point quarter time lead into a 10-goal drubbing by half time.
That just continued and by the end of the third quarter, the game had descended into something of a Crows training drill, with Adelaide showcasing fine ball movement from defence into attack.
The Crows refused to let up, pursuing the ball with intent and winning contested possession 143 to 127, but dominated in overall disposals 476 to 302. They also clocked up a huge amount of handballs (224 to the Suns' 100).
Defenders Alex Keath and Daniel Talia went into the game under injury clouds, but neither showed any signs of them. Bags of goals to Taylor Walker (three) and Josh Jenkins (four) were important.
Meanwhile for the Suns' their night was summed up in the third term when Alex Sexton kicked at goal, and it was clearly heading through the big sticks, until the ball suddenly jolted in the opposite direction on the goal line as if a ghost had knocked it away and it dribbled over the boundary for no score.
The Crows remain the only team in the AFL to have never been beaten by the Suns.
The last time Adelaide played Gold Coast in round five, Eddie Betts played his 300th game. This time around, he kicked his 300th goal in Crows colours.
And what a beauty it was: at the four-minute mark of the first term, Betts hovered at the feet of Josh Jenkins, roving the ball when it spilled from the big man's hands, and snapped at goal. It must have come as a relief to Betts who had waited a month to kick this milestone goal after being held goalless for the two previous games (his 299th was that Goal of the Year contender he kicked from the Adelaide Oval pocket that drew an embrace from Richmond's Sydney Stack).
Despite calls from some in footy circles that he be rested this week, Betts was able to shake off his opponent in Jarrod Harbrow and ran hard all night and finished with six goals, 20 disposals, six marks and one clearance.
After playing two games for Richmond in 2017, new recruit small forward Tyson Stengle finally got his shot in Crows colours after spending the season so far in the SANFL.
He didn't disappoint and should prove important for the club going forward.
He was gifted his first goal for his new club when co-captain Sloane, who was standing just outside the goalsquare after a 50m penalty, handballed over the top to the waiting Stengle who made no mistake. But he was given the chance to work hard and earn his next goal, when he picked up the ball off the ground, plunged it onto the outside of his right foot and dribbled it through.
FUTURE FORWARD LINE
The future of the Crows forward line was on full display with not only Stengle, but Lachlan Murphy also impressing, at one point in the second quarter, the 176cm Murphy sent a long bomb from just outside the 50m line and not only made the distance, but was accurate.
BACK ON TRACK?
This is not the first time this year that Adelaide has used its game against the Suns as its season re-starter: in round five, the Crows were sitting at 1-3 and fans were shaking their heads in disbelief at a poor start to a season that had promised so much.
But a 73-point win over Gold Coast sparked a much-needed four-game winning streak. And with Essendon, Carlton and St Kilda to come next, they could well find themselves on that four-game winning streak again.
DEW HURTING AFTER SUNS CAPITULATE
Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew was visibly hurting after his side's 95-point loss.
"We sat here seven days ago, looking for a response, in particular because the first 15 weeks as a footy club, on field we made gains and started to stand for something, the contest element," Dew said.
"And sometimes undermanned, but still fought it out and I think externally, we could be really clear on it, but internally we were seeing those gains as well.
"The last two weeks, we've lost our way.
"The whole coaching group, the playing group, we've got six weeks to actually get back to that … look at the Crows coaches box in the last quarter there. That stings, it's got to sting. That's where we're at. That's what they think of us."
When asked to clarify what had gone on in the Crows coaches box he said: "They laughed in the last quarter," he said.
"We've got to live with that. It is what it is."
Meanwhile, Crows coach Don Pyke said he was pleased that his players had responded after the previous week's loss.
"It was a good, strong, even performance," Pyke said.
"We were strong in the contest and from early on I thought we had control of the game and we moved the ball a little better than we have recently, which was good to see.
"We were really disappointed with last week and they're a proud group and they weren't going to sit back and have a repeat of that so I was really happy with how we started the game and set the tone early and were able to play strong footy which was great."
Adelaide: 5.7 12.9 19.10 23.13 (151)
Gold Coast: 2.3 2.5 4.7 8.8 (56)
Adelaide: Betts 6, Jenkins 4, Walker 3, Stengle 3, Murphy 2, O'Brien, Brown, Milera, Greenwood, M. Crouch
Gold Coast: Sexton 3, Lemmens 2, Day 2, MacPherson,
Adelaide: Milera, Atkins, Betts, B. Crouch, H. Greenwood, T. Walker
Gold Coast: Witts, Sexton, Hanley, Miller
8741 at Metricon Stadium
Umpires: Findlay, Heffernan, Mollison
3 - Milera
2 - Atkins
1 - Betts