June 21, 2024

One young Adelaide player will likely face scrutiny during the review of Friday night’s narrow loss to Essendon after committing a critical error twice within five minutes.

Josh Rachele braces for contact that wasn't there. Photo: Fox Footy.

Despite the controversial finish in which Essendon’s Sam Draper dived on the ball as the siren sounded without being penalized, Adelaide had several opportunities to secure the win in the final quarter. However, Josh Rachele missed a couple of key marks that could have made a difference.

During a crucial moment in the final term, Taylor Walker delivered a precise pass to Rachele, who was positioned alone just outside the 50-meter line. However, instead of securing the mark, Rachele appeared to be anticipating contact from the opposition and only raised one arm, resulting in a lost opportunity as the ball went straight to an Essendon player.

Commentator James Brayshaw remarked on Channel 7, “Oh no. Rachele took his eyes off the ball. That allows Essendon back into it.”

Just moments later, Essendon’s Nic Martin delivered a running goal from beyond the 50-meter line, giving the Bombers the lead—a lead that would ultimately hold until the end of the game.

Rachele faced another disappointing moment when Rory Laird found him unmarked in the forward pocket, only for Rachele to drop a straightforward overhead mark after ducking his head.

Had he secured the mark, Rachele would have had an opportunity to kick a goal from close range, potentially putting the Crows in front.

Reflecting on the game, Fox Footy’s Garry Lyon commented, “We’ve witnessed his remarkable abilities… but he had a moment that will serve as a valuable learning experience. He hesitated. They’ll review it with him and emphasize that this moment shouldn’t define his football career.”

Jonathan Brown added, “You focus on the behavior… you don’t want to crush the kid’s confidence. I observed a similar issue last week, and now it’s happened two weeks in a row. It’s something that needs addressing in his game. Hopefully, he’ll learn from it and rise to the occasion in future crucial moments.

“To excel in this sport, despite discussions about concussion and changes in the game, physical toughness and maintaining focus on the ball in all situations remain essential and crucial, especially in critical moments.”

Nathan Buckley elaborated, “We used to discuss that in terms of bravery and resilience. It doesn’t reflect on someone’s character; it may highlight their skill level. In that moment, he failed to execute the necessary skill. To do so, he needed to retreat an extra step, risking potential contact from behind. Over the next few years, he’ll learn to step up and ensure he executes.”

Luke Hodge remarked on Channel 7, “Rachele had three opportunities and misjudged that one. It slipped through his hands. He took his eyes off the ball.”

It was a tough night for the Crows. (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Footy fans quickly noticed that the 22-year-old, once a top 10 draft pick, seemed hesitant to commit to contesting the ball in flight.

Collingwood legend and Brownlow Medallist Dane Swan commented on X: “Josh Rachele doesn’t seem too eager to stretch his arms up to mark the ball.”

Broadcaster Daniel Garb remarked, “Josh Rachele wouldn’t want to face the Monday review.”

Journalist Andrew Wu added, “It won’t be a pleasant review for Josh Rachele if the Crows lose this.”

Footy reporter Ronny Lerner noted, “Rachele wouldn’t want to watch a replay of that. He’ll have a tough time sleeping tonight after dropping those two crucial marks.”

Rudi Edsall observed, “Rachele is experiencing the kind of night on live TV that gives you nightmares.”

Fox Footy’s Garry Lyon also criticized Izak Rankine for abandoning his direct opponent, leading to Darcy Parish’s goal for Essendon.

After showing competitiveness against the AFL’s top teams last season and narrowly missing finals due to a goal umpiring mistake, Adelaide entered the current season with high hopes. However, with a 1-4 record, their playoff prospects are looking bleak.

Monday’s game review won’t be pretty for Rachele. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)

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