Retiring great Josh Kennedy did everything he could to drag West Coast over the line in his final game, but his eight goals weren’t enough as the Crows recorded a 16-point win.
Kennedy was West Coast’s king in attack as he kicked three goals to quarter time. He continued to rack up scores as the match went on and brought the Eagles to within five in a thrilling final term.
But the Crows held firm away from home in the 16.6 (102) to 13.8 (86) victory as Darcy Fogarty kicked three goals in the final term.
Watch every blockbuster AFL match this weekend Live & Ad-Break Free In-Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
QUARTER BY QUARTER MATCH REPORT
The focus was on Josh Kennedy in the lead up to the clash with Adelaide, but it was the Crows’ milestone man Rory Laird who got his side off to the best possible start.
When Andrew Gaff couldn’t reel in a mark on the wing, the Crows pounced and Laird pushed forward to take full advantage after just 34 seconds.
Luke Shuey and Liam Ryan coughed up West Coast’s best chance as they streamed forward and in reply, Adelaide simply marched downfield as Mitch Hinge kicked their second.
“That’s just too easy,” commentator Dermott Brereton said.
Laird got his second goal from the resulting centre clearance as the shell shocked Eagles couldn’t get hands on the footy.
The remarkable three-goal start silenced the big Perth crowd who turned out in droves to farewell Kennedy.
But the crowd was soon to their feet when Kennedy drew a free kick for high contact. And he made no mistake with his first disposal for the day from just outside 50m on the tough angle.
“We love the fairytales in football, too often they don’t come true,” Brereton said.
“That is an incredible finish, what a reaction from him and the fans,” Matthew Pavlich praised.
Shane McAdam showed a great set of hands to extend Adelaide’s lead to 18 points as Jack Darling wasted his first opportunity for the day.
Darling opted for the snap from 15m out and went too skinny.
The Eagles wasted more chances, first through Jake Waterman – after Brady Hough burnt Kennedy, and then by Hough himself.
But Josh Kennedy, in his final AFL match delivered another goal kicking masterclass from just inside 50m.
“He’s doing what he does best,” Adam Papalia said.
“Eagles fans have been saying ‘Thank God for Josh Kennedy’. I think this first quarter has got them doing that again. You can see how much support there is for him in the stadium,” Pavlich added.
Kennedy added a third for the opening term on the stroke of quarter time to keep West Coast within striking distance.
And the second term belonged to the Eagles as they ramped up the pressure – an area they had been ranked 18th in the AFL coming into Sunday’s contest.
Jamie Cripps kicked the Eagles’ first for the term after Kennedy brought the ball to ground and dished the hands, and Jack Darling added the second after nailing Elliot Himmelberg from the ball up.
But none of those goals brought the fans to their feet like Kennedy who kicked his fourth for the day minutes later.
“Contested possession, clearance, tackle; all the hard stats, the things that really matter are right in the Eagles’ favour right now,” Pavlich said.
Kennedy put his body on the line twice in the space of 20 seconds as the Eagles kept pushing for a seventh goal.
It took some bravery from Will Hamill to stop West Coast’s momentum.
Hamill put himself in front of a charging Jack Darling and copped a brutal knee that saw him sprawled on the Optus Stadium turf.
The game was stopped as the stretcher was called, but Hamill managed to get to his feet and head straight down to the rooms with the trainer.
“That is brave football,” Pavlich praised.
Darcy Fogarty set sail for home from just inside 50m to keep the Crows in the clash just minutes out from half time.
“As soon as we saw him come onto the scene… he just kicked the lights out. The first thing that was of note was his pure kicking,” Brereton praised.
“He’s just a wonderful set shot.”
West Coast’s half time lead evaporated just a minute into the third term when Luke Shuey left the footy behind at half back.
Shane McAdam slotted the goal from 20m out, and the Crows had a second minutes later when Tim Kelly missed both Jamie Cripps and Liam Ryan in the centre of the ground.
Ned McHenry made him pay as Adelaide opened up a 10-point lead.
The Crows continued to press in the third, with Taylor Walker’s kick only just touched by Harry Edwards on the line.
Liam Ryan butchered the Eagles’ first real chance of the term when he overlooked Kennedy and kicked to the Crows’ advantage .
“Arms waving on behalf of all players there. Waterman was out, Josh Kennedy was out and Liam Ryan was saying sorry,” Pavlich said.
Andrew Gaff couldn’t get West Coast their first goal of the third term when his set shot sailed wide.
Gaff was awarded a 50m penalty when Sam Berry went straight through the mark trying to get off the field.
Gaff was initially spoiled as Berry headed off but the umpire called a high contact free kick right as the young Crow came across.
“A mix up there for the Crows,” Papalia said.
“Regardless of what you are trying to achieve, rotate and go to the bench, you cannot encroach like that,” Brereton added.
“You’ve got to go via Fremantle to get to that interchange gate.”
Jamaine Jones then gifted Himmelberg a goal when he came into the protected zone, leaving coach Adam Simpson scratching his head.
The goal put Adelaide out to a game-high 23-point lead.
It took retiring great Josh Kennedy to drag the Eagles back into the contest.
He kicked his fifth goal after losing opponent Nick Murray out the back.
But McAdam had the immediate reply.
Kennedy added his sixth goal for the day to keep the Eagles in the contest at the final change as they trailed by 17 points.
The Eagles set up a thrilling final term when first Cripps, then Darling kicked goals in the opening three minutes to close the margin to just five points.
Kennedy added goals seven and eight in the final term as the 50,00-strong crowd absolutely got around the Eagles.
But when Kennedy had a rare miss, the Crows were able to get the ball forward and Elliott Himmelberg made no mistake to give Adelaide an 11-point buffer.
Bailey Williams had the chance earlier in the quarter to give the Eagles the lead, but the ball flicked the inside padding of the post and his goal was denied.
The Eagles simply ran out of time in the final term as Adelaide held on for a brave victory away from home.
3. KING KENNEDY FAREWELLS THE GAME
When Josh Kennedy announced this week that the clash with Adelaide would be his last, Sunday’s match became a sellout as fans turned out in droves to farewell a favourite son.
Kennedy, famously part of the Chris Judd trade but ends his career as West Coast’s greatest ever goalkicker, enjoyed a fabulous career back home in WA.
After having his family form a guard of honour onto the field, and his mum and stepdad toss the coin – which he won — Kennedy then delivered on the field with 8.2 from 15 dispsoals.
He had three first quarter goals – two coming from the arc on a tight angle, before adding a fourth goal before half time.
Kennedy’s fifth and sixth goals of the match came in the third term when the momentum was all with Adelaide.
“It’s the JK day,” Fox Footy’s Will Schofield said.
“He’s having a good day, jagging goals from the boundary.
“He really looks like he’s loving what the crowd is giving him.”
Matthew Pavlich was full of praise for his former Eagles rival, telling Fox Footy: “He’s been on fire.
“He’s just having a day out.
“We’ve loved his repeat efforts and his ability to get away from his opponent.
Schofield said Kennedy’s movement made him one of the most difficult to defend.
“He’s creating that space. He’s done that today and he’s done it from his whole career.
“He finds space when seemingly he shouldn’t be able to do it.
“He’s wound it right back (on Sunday).”
When the final siren sounded, Kennedy slumped to the Optus Stadium turf as the realisation sunk in: His brilliant AFL career was over.
He was first consoled by Liam Ryan before other Eagles teammates gave him a hug on a pat on the back, followed by Crows opponents and opposition coach Matthew Nicks.
Kennedy was emotional after the game when interviewed by Schofield.
Asked how he was feeling, Kennedy said: “A bit emotional, but’s been good.
“I’ll probably have a few beers tonight then I’ll probably reflect over the next couple of weeks. It’s been anazming journey. I can’t thank the club and the fans, teammates enough. It’s been a crazy journey.”
Coach Adam Simpson then gave a lovely public tribute to Kennedy.
“To JK, thanks for everything. From the club, from the fans to all of us – we love you. Well done on a great career,” Simpson said.
Players and coaching staff from both sides formed a guard of honour for Kennedy as Luke Shuey and Shannon Hurn chaired Kennedy from the field for the final time.
“There’s a beauty in our sport in these moments,” Fox Footy’s Dermott Brereton said.
“It’s a rare beauty where everybody, regardless of how we compete against each other, we get to celebrate champion players and how glorious their career has been.”
2. TEX V TOM TUSSLE
Taylor Walker remains Adelaide’s key to attack, with plenty of traffic directed the big Tex’s way in season 2022.
But against Eagle Tim Barrass, Walker just couldn’t get into the contest.
Walker was held to just one disposal at half time, as he was outmarked repeatedly one-on-one by Barrass.
“Taylor Walker has been superb this season for the Adelaide Crows,” Fox Footy’s Dermott Brereton praised.
“But Tom Barrass, his last month has been extraordinary.
“Barrass’ ability to shut him down in the air and stay close enough behind, get his shoulder right into Taylor jumper and edge him under the ball.”
Barrass may have had just six disposals to half time, but all six were contested.
“He is controlling that contest between the two,” Matthew Pavlich praised.
“To help Tex, Adelaide were very straight line in that first half. Sometimes you have to give a little and that may be to switch the ball and go a bit quarte like they did in that first quarter.
“Because Barrass is right on top.”
Despite Walker’s “frustrating” day, it was Darcy Fogarty who stepped up when his team needed him.
“We’ve known this talent has been there for some time,” Brereton praised.
Fogarty kicked three, including two in the final term when his team needed someone to stand tall.
1. WHERE’S THE WILL WHEN IT’S ON THE LINE?
West Coast have endured a horror 2022 season, complicated by injuries and COVID early that left them decimated.
They’ve ranked last for pressure this season as sides have cashed in when playing against the Eagles.
Fox Footy’s Dermott Brereton was left less than impressed when he saw Liam Ryan opt out of a physical contest – especially given the added motivation of Josh Kennedy’s final AFL game.
Ryan pulled out as Shane McAdam came charging up on the lead.
McAdam went back and slotted the goal, sending Adelaide out to a game-high 23-point lead.
“You’ve got to go there,” Brereton said.
“Liam Ryan, he can make that (contest).
“If you’ve got a game when you’ve got an all-time great and you want to win for them, you’ve got to take that hit.
“He’s been fantastic today, but that’s a little mark against him.”
Fellow commentator Matthew Pavlich said he had no doubt Ryan’s actions would be shown in the Eagles’ review.