Crow Call – Round Four (v Essendon)

The Team –

FF 22 Andy Otten 13 Taylor Walker 18 Eddie Betts
HF 21 Rory Atkins 27 Tom Lynch 3 Riley Knight
C 14 David Mackay 44 Matt Crouch 9 Rory Sloane
HB 33 Brodie Smith 15 Kyle Hartigan 30 Wayne Milera
FB 29 Rory Laird 12 Daniel Talia 16 Luke Brown
F 24 Sam Jacobs 26 Richard Douglas 23 Charlie Cameron

Interchange – 6 Jake Lever 8 Jake Kelly 17 Curtly Hampton 32 Troy Menzel

Emergency – 1 Jonathon Beech 7 Jordan Gallucci 43 Reilly O’Brien

In – Troy Menzel

Out – Mitch McGovern

Four Showdown wins on the trot, a three-zip start to the year and a hungry, aggressive side that has knocked off three big teams. You would take that heading into Round Four any day, but yet there is a feel that there is still plenty of improvement left. As the injury toll mounts, the big test for the Crows is just to keep going and that starts with the Bombers on Saturday Night.

You cannot have two injury free years in a row. That is the message that has come out of this week. Mitch McGovern is the latest Adelaide forward to feel the injury pinch. He will miss, you suspect, between the next eight and twelve weeks with a hamstring injury. And that is best case scenario at this stage. Josh Jenkins meanwhile will miss again this weekend and reading between the lines, perhaps two or three more as well if things do not start healing quickly. It is a big blow for Adelaide as it obviously considerably weakens their forward line. It allows the best defenders to focus more of their efforts on Walker or Betts as opposed to having to worry about Jenkins and McGovern as well as the aforementioned duo. Troy Menzel returns to the side. He was impressive at SANFL level last weekend, so should slot in nicely.

Reilly O’Brien must have been close to being selected this week. Andy Otten in the ruck worked quite well again last weekend, but it is not sustainable long term for him or for Sam Jacobs for that matter. If Jenkins misses many more weeks, O’Brien must be given more thought. The major issue with O’Brien is that his kicking is not up to standard and as such he does not offer much as a resting forward. Whether you could have O’Brien rucking and Jacobs up forward is interesting food for thought. In the meantime. Otten will again drift forward. He thoroughly deserved his two goals last weekend. Harry Dear is the other option, but his form at SANFL level has not been great in 2017.

Someone who did really impress me in Adelaide’s win over Sturt though was Elliot Himmelberg. He clunked some big marks in trying conditions and kicked a nice goal. He is one to watch for the future.

It is hard to know what to expect from Essendon. They were impressive against Hawthorn, but recent weeks tells us that it is not as impressive as first thought. They were then tested by Brisbane and beaten by Carlton in the wet. Having said that, they will not be easy beats, in fact it is hard to see a team that will be this year. Zach Merrett is in good form and Dyson Heppell looks keen to atone for a year on the sidelines. The battle will again be won in the midfield and it is good to see no changes for Adelaide in there again for another week.

It would be nice to see the Crows have a good start this week. Their ability to get back into games and stop a team’s run has been most impressive so far in 2017. However, a good start can be vital for finals footy, so Adelaide do not want to form the habit of coming from behind too often.

At SANFL level, the Crows take on South Adelaide at Encounter Bay on Easter Sunday. Yes, odd time, location and date for this clash. The SANFL scheduling continues to baffle. Tom Doedee is back from a sore knee, which is great to see. Hugh Greenwood has started 2017 extremely well and there was almost the argument to throw him into the forward line at AFL level this week. Jono Beech is another who could find himself having a senior debut if he can impress after being upgraded off the rookie list, while Brad Crouch just needs another two or three solid games before he can be considered.

Adelaide should win on Saturday Night. The added good form of David Mackay and Richard Douglas along with the new-look midfield has clicked well. If the Crows are the team they appear to be, this is one they just have to bank. A depleted forward line will hurt, but they just have to make do for the time being with the hope Jenkins does not spend much longer on the sidelines. It would also be a bonus to get through the game injury free. Adelaide cannot afford to lose too many more key players!

It is a long weekend and a Saturday night game, so there should be a bumper crowd at the Adelaide Oval. Can the Crows keep on keeping on?

Tip – Adelaide by 18 points

Weather – Partly cloudy, 25

Game Info – 
Adelaide v Essendon
Saturday April 15 – 7.10pm (local time) Adelaide Oval

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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