Crow Call – Round Two (v Hawthorn)

The Team –

FF 18 Eddie Betts 13 Taylor Walker 4 Josh Jenkins

HF 17 Curtly Hampton 41 Mitch McGovern 27 Tom Lynch

14 David Mackay 44 Matt Crouch 21 Rory Atkins

HB 22 Andy Otten 15 Kyle Hartigan 33 Brodie Smith

FB 8 Jake Kelly 12 Daniel Talia 29 Rory Laird

F 24 Sam Jacobs 26 Richard Douglas 9 Rory Sloane

Interchange 16 Luke Brown 23 Charlie Cameron 30 Wayne Milera 3 Riley Knight

Emergency 6 Jake Lever 10 Harrison Wigg 32 Troy Menzel

In – Taylor Walker

Out – Troy Menzel

What a way to start the season. A 56 point win over the premiership favourites. I am not a big believer in Round One form dictating what happens throughout the year, but you would rather be on the winning side of the ledger, that is for sure. Adelaide were most impressive on Sunday afternoon in stifling heat and humidity at the Adelaide Oval. In the initial Crow Call column this season, there was discussion around Adelaide’s midfield brigade and how they must take their game to a new level in season 2017 for Adelaide to improve. Everything we saw on Sunday pointed to that happening. There were such positive signs.

Taylor Walker returns this week from a hamstring strain, but the smaller forward line worked last weekend. Troy Menzel was given his first chance to play a senior game for Adelaide and did not look out of place. Wayne Milera played the best game to date for the club, while Riley Knight was more than a handy replacement for Walker, despite very little JLT Series action. David Mackay and Richard Douglas need big years following an extended lean period. They both played the best game they have played in quite some time.

Anyone who lost their place this week was always going to be unlucky. Menzel is that man, but will travel as an emergency no doubt for a reportedly under the weather Eddie Betts. The move to leave Lever out last week was not something I would have done, but Andy Otten and Jake Kelly both deserve to stay in the team after their respective games. Both played their role really well and there is no reason why that form cannot continue.

After heading out and watching Adelaide’s SANFL Trial Game at Football Park last Saturday morning, it was clear that there is a different role in mind for Scott Thompson this year. He spent a fair proportion of the game playing off of a half back line at centre square stoppages. Harrison Wigg picked up plenty of touches, but there was not too much else to report out of the game really. Alex Keath strained a hamstring and will miss a month or so of footy. He joins Kyle Cheney, Walker and Lever to have all be struck down this year. It is hard to remember a hamstring strain at Adelaide in the last couple of years and you have to now start asking questions of new high-performance manager, Matt Hass. What has been changed up and if anything, has that contributed to the hamstring trend? Interesting food for thought.

Ben Davis and Cam Ellis-Yolmen are now both on the long-term injury list. Perhaps it is time to upgrade a rookie. Hugh Greenwood and Jono Beech could be handy additions at senior level this year if the opportunity arrises. Upgrade them now and continue to install some confidence in these two players.

To the game this weekend against Hawthorn. The old rival. I cannot remember the last time I walked away with a clash against Hawthorn satisfied. Adelaide got close last year. One dodgy umpiring decision away from a historic victory at the MCG. Almost a year to the day too. If Adelaide are the team many are predicting them to be, they will win and win well on Saturday afternoon. Hawthorn have showed signs of decline both in the JLT Series this year and in Round One. I still think that they will play finals though and the return of Luke Hodge will boost their team this week, even if it just at a leadership level. He will be hungry and raring to go.

For Adelaide to win, they simply have to do what they did last week and out-run as well as out-pressure the Hawks. For the first time in a long time, Adelaide looked quick through the midfield last week. With Knight, Wayne Milera, Curtly Hampton, and Charlie Cameron running through there, there was a lick of pace that we have not seen in recent times. Hawthorn are not the fastest side going around and if Adelaide can get that run and dash again, they will be hard to beat. The pressure was very noticeable again from the opening bounce and this must be repeated week on week throughout 2017. It is though, really easy to pressure in the opening round, but repeated efforts of this are going to need to be executed for Adelaide to rise up the table. Meanwhile, the Crows must show an improved goal kicking effort on Saturday. There were some terrible shots that will cost games this year if it were to continue. Things turned around in the second half, but sometimes that might be too late to fix things.

I think that Adelaide will struggle this week on the back of a six-day break after playing in 35 degree heat and humidity. That game would have taken a lot out of the players, even more so because it was a Round One game. The vast expanses of the MCG will be a real test for this Adelaide side, because of that in terms of being able to get that running and repeated pressure going. Particularly if the game is as close, as contests between these two sides tend to be.

Tip – Hawthorn by 7 points

Weather – Possible afternoon shower. 19.

Game Info – 
Hawthorn v Adelaide
Saturday April 1 – 1.15pm (local time) MCG

The Crow Call will be published every Thursday during the AFL Season. Join in the conversation with me on all things Crows on Twitter @liamthompson1.

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