Round 9, 2013 holds a special moment for former Adelaide small forward Jared Petrenko.
The Crows, who came within a kick of a Grand Final the year before, were sitting 4-4 and vying for another finals berth. Their opponents, the Kangaroos, were sitting with a 3-5 record and were drawing criticism for losing three of those matches by less than a goal.
It was Indigenous Round and the two sides were meeting on the Sunday afternoon at Etihad Stadium.
Each week, Aflplayers.com.au will bring to light the perspective of someone at the heart of a memorable moment from a game played between two sides before their upcoming clash.
Petrenko was back in the side after Matthew Wright was omitted and remembers always thinking they were a chance because of North’s form throughout the first third of the season.
“We felt because of North’s poor record at finishing games that we were always a chance if we could stay within reach because North weren’t traveling all that great and had lost a few close ones throughout the year,” Petrenko told Aflplayers.com.au.
And North flew out of the blocks, kicking four goals to one in the opening terms and the first three majors of the second quarter thanks to Lindsay Thomas, who kicked four consecutive goals himself between the first and second terms.
All of a sudden, six minutes into the second quarter, North Melbourne were in front by 39 points.
The Crows managed to claw their way back into the game and went into the main break only 10 points behind.
North could do no wrong in the third and converted all their chances, kicking six goals straight, while an unlikely hero in seven-gamer Sam Kerridge booted three majors of his own for the quarter for the Crows.
Adelaide kicked four majors for the quarter and went into the final change 18 points behind.
The Kangaroos kicked the opening two goals, before a major to Jason Porplyzia for the Crows reduced the margin to 23 points. Daniel Wells kicked a behind but Bernie Vince surprisingly then hit him on the chest while kicking out from full-back.
Wells converted and North Melbourne were out to a five-goal lead nine minutes into the final term. All looked lost for the Crows.
But they had other ideas.
Sam Kerridge kicked two majors and his side had a sniff, before Richard Douglas reduced the margin to just two goals with his second major for the day.
Another goal to Kerridge, his sixth for the half, capped off one of the more remarkable individual performances for the year and one that surprised Petrenko.
“It blew me away, you don’t really see performances like that from such inexperienced players and it showed he’s capable of playing great footy. He just kept popping up and it was one of those days where it kept falling into place for him,” Petrenko said.
The scores were 124 to 118 at the 26-minute mark of the final term. The Crows pushed forward again through Patrick Dangerfield, who ended up with 30 disposals and three Brownlow Medal votes, and somehow Petrenko ended up with the ball in his hand at ground level.
He backed out of the pack, turned and shot with the outside of the boot which looked to be going in until the last second.
“I was about to celebrate. It was a good point in the end but I was certainly up and about when it came off my boot.”
A straight kick could do it but when North Melbourne won a free kick on Adelaide’s half-forward flank, it seemed as if the Crows luck had finally run out.
“North won possession and that’s when I thought we were in a bit of trouble. That was the only time throughout the game where I thought we were out of reach,” Petrenko added.
“But they kicked it down the line to a contest and I remember Josh Jenkins muscling his way through a couple of players on the wing and getting the ball to a runner — Josh was the pivotal part in that play — and the ball went inside 50.”
Petrenko darted toward goal, where Kerridge’s long ball was headed, and the unthinkable happened.
“I was trying to run away from the contest to draw my opponent away from the pack but he ended up going for it and I’d already committed to the decision.
“Somehow, I was lucky enough that my opponent basically took out the contest and the ball came over the back to where I was running.”
Leading all-comers to the bouncing ball in the goal-square, Petrenko kicked a mid-air goal to secure Adelaide the lead for the first time in the game with 19 seconds remaining.
The Crows did enough to hold onto an amazing comeback victory, while the North rued their fourth loss by less than a kick in the first nine rounds of 2013. Petrenko, meanwhile, was beside himself.
“It’s funny because that’s pretty much all I’m remembered for. I’ve never felt anything like I did after that game.
“I remember being at the airport afterwards and I was still shaking even hours after the game had finished. It’s the stuff dreams are made of and being in Indigenous Round as well, it was a pretty special night for myself, especially considering I was a late inclusion.
“That game is something I’ll never forget.”