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Footyology countdown: Crows to go one better this time


Adelaide captain Taylor Walker. He, Eddie Betts, Josh Jenkins and Tom Lynch represent the AFL’s most potent forward set-up. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Footyology countdown: Crows to go one better this time

Rohan Connolly    

ADELAIDE
2017 record: 17 wins, 7 losses, 1 draw (2nd)
List age ranking (oldest to youngest): 2nd
List experience ranking (most to fewest games): 6th
Footyology draw ranking (easiest to hardest): 17th

THE INS
Bryce Gibbs (Carlton), Sam Gibson (North Melbourne), Darcy Fogarty (Glenelg), Andrew McPherson (Woodville-West Torrens), Patrick Wilson (Sturt), Lachlan Murphy (Adelaide SANFL), Jackson Edwards (Glenelg)

THE OUTS
Jake Lever (Melbourne), Charlie Cameron (Brisbane), Harrison Wigg (Gold Coast), Scott Thompson (retired), Troy Menzel (delisted), Dean Gore (delisted), Jono Beech (delisted)

THE BEST 22
B: Alex Keath, Daniel Talia, Luke Brown
HB: Rory Laird, Kyle Hartigan, Jake Kelly
C: Rory Atkins, Brad Crouch, Bryce Gibbs
HF: Richard Douglas, Josh Jenkins, Tom Lynch
F: Mitch McGovern, Taylor Walker, Eddie Betts
Foll: Sam Jacobs, Rory Sloane, Matt Crouch
Inter: Riley Knight, Paul Seedsman, David Mackay, Hugh Greenwood
Emerg: Andy Otten, Sam Gibson, Wayne Milera

THE PROGNOSIS
It’s a hard lot being a beaten grand finalist, especially one which sat on top of the ladder for 18 of 23 rounds before two thumping finals wins en route to the biggest stage. And it’s arguably even tougher now than ever before in the tightest completion AFL football has seen.

What used to be almost a rite of passage in the old days, spawning the catchcry “you have to know what it’s like to lose one to win one” has become an increasingly rare achievement. Only five teams in the AFL era have rebounded from grand final defeat to go one better the next season, Hawthorn the last of those in 2013.

But winning a flag is tough whatever position you’re coming from. And simply, I like Adelaide’s chances of doing so better than anyone else’s.

Why? Because the Crows are still a really good football team, regardless of what happened on grand final day last year. And now, alongside that armoury, they have some extra motivation via the burning in the gut of that missed opportunity.

No doubt Adelaide saved an ordinary performance for the day that mattered most. But pigeon-holing a team as not tough enough on the basis of those four quarters given 17 wins from 25 games (and a 9-4 record against other top eight sides) is just silly. And certainly wrong.

The Crows weren’t the only highly-rated team to succumb to Richmond’s phenomenal pressure last September. And for the best part of 2017 they more than held their own in the “hard-ball” department, third on the differential rankings for contested possession and fourth for clearances. Adelaide, until that final game of the season, was able to force turnovers in its forward half and defend its back half as well as any team in the competition.

Its forward set-up was significantly more potent that any rival’s, the Crows averaging 110 points per game, nearly two goals per game better than any other team, and scoring goals from 28 per cent of their inside 50 entries, again ranked No.1.

Key forwards Taylor Walker, Josh Jenkins, Tom Lynch and perhaps even a very impressive-looking draftee in Darcy Fogarty, along with ground-level wizard Eddie Betts, will remain a handful for any defence provided they get enough opportunities.

And the arrival of a certified A-grade midfielder in Bryce Gibbs to partner Rory Sloane, Matt Crouch, Brad Crouch, Richard Douglas, Rory Atkins, Riley Knight, Paul Seedsman, David Mackay and Hugh Greenwood makes that prospect far more likely than not.

It also offers coach Don Pyke some more flexibility in attempting to cover the one potential black spot this season the sceptics continue to highlight, the defence. Sure, the loss of Jake Lever isn’t ideal, nor the year-long absence of Brodie Smith via a serious knee injury.

But Pyke has at least a couple of players – Mitch McGovern and Alex Keath – who can slot comfortably into Lever’s spot. Smith hurts, too, but in Rory Laird, Adelaide still has an All-Australian rebounding defender. And Gibbs’ addition may just allow a Seedsman, Mackay or Atkins to take on the Smith role for longer periods.

They’re not short on depth, the Crows. Certainly not too short on talent. And I still believe their absolute best might just be a little better than anyone else’s. Deliver it on the right occasion this time and I doubt the club will be short of a third premiership for too much longer.

THE PREDICTION
1st. Good enough, deep enough, and now, indisputably, motivated enough. It’s 20 years since the last Adelaide flag, and there won’t be a better opportunity than this to end the drought.

THE LADDER SO FAR (click on team to read)
1. ADELAIDE
2. PORT ADELAIDE
3. RICHMOND
4. MELBOURNE
5. SYDNEY
6. GWS
7. GEELONG
8. ESSENDON
9. WESTERN BULLDOGS
10. HAWTHORN
11. COLLINGWOOD
12. ST KILDA
13. WEST COAST
14. NORTH MELBOURNE
15. BRISBANE
16. CARLTON
17. FREMANTLE
18. GOLD COAST

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4 Comments
  1. Rohan, they play 3 tall forwards & 3 Tall Backs they’re not going to win when it matters on the “G”. That set up is history. If Richmond make top4 like you have predicted no one will beat them at the G least not Port or the Crows!

  2. Plus they got beat because they were too top heavy and they were out coached not because they put in an ordinary performance. If you prescribe to that theory you are as confused as the crows are.

  3. Rohan Connolly

    It’s “subscribe” Andrew, not “prescribe”. You’re welcome.

  4. Loved all the previews RoCo, thanks a lot for the great work! For some reason the Crows just remind me of the Atlanta Falcons after last year’s Super Bowl – everything looks (looked) right for a tilt at the title the following season but just a gut feel that they’ll drop a few rungs. I think Jenkins and Lynch can be stopped, if one or both of those don’t live up to last season, plus you lose Cameron’s 29 goals, suddenly they’re a different team.

    Anyway the beauty of this time of year is that none of us are wrong!

    Enjoy the season!

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