Australian Rules Football: Jarman stars in late show for Adelaide

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The Independent Online
ADELAIDE made a remarkable second-half comeback to defend their Australian Football League title with a 35-point win over North Melbourne in the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground yesterday.

A crowd of almost 95,000, including Muhammad Ali, watched Adelaide climb off the ropes after North had raced to a 24-point half-time lead. Adelaide's Darren Jarman and Andrew McLeod starred for the second year in a row as the Crows scored a 15.15 (105) to 8.22 (70) victory. Jarman was the top scorer while McLeod was voted best player in the final for the second year running.

North, who won their last 11 matches and were the pre-match favourites, should have delivered a knockout by half-time but wasted the opportunity with poor kicking. Only six of their 21 scoring shots went through for goals, but they still led 51-27 at the break.

North kicked a deplorable 2.11 in the second half after leading 4.4 (28) to 3.2 (20) at quarter-time. "At half-time a lot of people wouldn't have given us a chance but the amount of belief in this team is amazing," the Crows' captain, Mark Bickle, said. Adelaide came out fiercely in the third quarter, scoring 24 points without reply to draw level for the first time in the match before Winston Abraham kicked a long-range goal for North to put them a goal ahead. But the Crows went away to a 65-63 lead at the final change and skipped two goals clear early in the final period.

North's captain Wayne Carey, who had a magnificent season leading up to the final, missed an easy chance to put his team within seven points. Carey finished with 1.4.

The Crows responded with two quick goals. The second, from Jarman wide out on the right, gave him a fifth for the game and put his side four goals in front. Nigel Smart's goal with three minutes remaining ended any faint hopes of a North revival.

Jarman lifted Adelaide to their first ever title last year when he kicked six goals, including five in the last quarter, in the final against St Kilda.