The Team –
FF Otten, Walker, Jenkins
HF Cameron, Lynch, Betts
C Atkins, Douglas, Smith
HB Sloane, Talia, Kelly
FB Sloane, Hartigan, Laird
F Jacobs, B Crouch, M Crouch
Interchange – Kelly, Mackay, Greenwood, Milera
Emergency – Gallucci, Beech, O’Brien
In – Jenkins, Mackay
Out – Gallucci, Hampton
Adelaide is back on the right side of the ledger after two weeks of utter rubbish. That feels good. However, there is still plenty and I cannot emphasise that word enough, plenty of room for improvement. The next three weeks will give the football world a good indication of where Adelaide is really at. It starts with Fremantle at home on Saturday Night followed by Geelong at Geelong on a Friday Night and then concludes before the bye with the Saints on a Friday Night, back home at the Adelaide Oval. The next three weeks will be telling and will be absolutely critical to setting up the rest of the season.
First quarters are a problem and on the odd occasion where the first quarter is solid, it is another quarter where things go a little pear shaped. Like it or not, for some reason the intensity, the hunger and the attack on the ball has been almost non-existent in patches in every game this season. It was the reason why North blew the Crows out the water down in Hobart and it was partly to blame for a lapse in the third quarter against Melbourne a fortnight ago. It has to be a mental thing, because during games, it always manages to somehow get switched back on. While that is a positive attribute, the fact that it gets turned off at all is a major, major issue that could be the difference between Adelaide being good or great in 2017. A sloppy Lions did not punish the Crows, but accurate Roos and Demons outfits certainly did. It was the same story against Sydney in the semi-final in 2016.
On the team sheets, Curtly Hampton misses, which is a real shame for a couple of reasons. Firstly because while he has been scratchy, he is one who does give his all. He had 2016 ruined by injury, so here’s hoping this latest ankle injury does not cost him much time on the sidelines. The second reason is that this week is Indigenous Round and it would have been great to have four representatives out there for the Adelaide Football Club this weekend. The biggest question is whether Betts can kick goal of the year again this week, as he has done in the corresponding round in the last two years. Although did he seal that gong up again last week with his beauty at the Gabba? The Eddie chant of course travels and we are all so lucky to be able to witness his heroics week after week.
David Mackay and Josh Jenkins return to AFL level. This is a ridiculous selection. While Jenkins kicked four goals last weekend at SANFL level, he certainly did not get enough of the ball to show he is back in super form. Andy Otten was keeping Jenkins out of the side and Otten remains this weekend too. It is meant to rain come Saturday night, so this is just all very strange. Jenkins needed three games and to be breaking the door down before he should have returned. Mackay meanwhile did not even play last weekend, so the chances of Brodie Smith playing this weekend seem remote based on that. Gallucci would then come back into the side. He would be very stiff to miss. All a bit confusing really.
Back this week is Riley Knight albeit at SANFL level. He is another who should have come back into the AFL side before David Mackay. He appears a little injury prone Riley, so hopefully he can get a solid run at it now, after having a few annoying niggles so far this season. He is an important player as we have stressed in this column before.
Hugh Greenwood could not have been more impressive in his debut match. Forget the three goals, his nine tackles is the statistic that counts. That and how composed he was with ball in hand. If every Adelaide player managed to lay that many tackles every week, they would never lose. Adelaide’s tackling was solid after quarter time, but as it has so often this year, took far too long to get going. Adelaide’s pressure is the best indicator of how they are playing. If they are not tackling, they are most likely not leading on the scoreboard and everything else falls apart after that.
The Dockers this week present a challenge. After their last visit to Adelaide Oval early this year to play Port Adelaide, who thought we would be saying that? They are in very good form Fremantle. Nat Fyfe, do you let him roam free and gather plenty of touches? That is the mantra Adelaide has gone with in recent time for Fyfe and I would expect would do so again. Cam McCarthy has been dangerous up forward and probably cops Daniel Talia as a match up this week. David Mundy has been a big reason for their resurgence up the ladder, playing more of a forward role. It will be important to limit his influence. If Fremantle have been watching what teams have been doing to Adelaide in recent weeks, they will try to bog the game down and turn it into a slog. Not too many teams win against Adelaide at the present time while attempting to play in a shoot out.
On the SANFL front, Harrison Wigg looked like a man who was a little offended that he did not get an invite to the trip to Brisbane. 38 possessions is a solid effort from him. How he did not even get a gig as an emergency this week is staggering. After a slow start (where have I seen that before), Adelaide stormed home with a big second half to gain a much-needed SANFL win. There were successful returns for Alex Keath and Kyle Cheney, which is pleasing. I still would like to see something from Harry Dear. He has so much potential but has just not been able to turn it on in the SANFL often enough. He was playing in defence last week, which may be a sign Adelaide are not really sure where he fits either. The next few weeks are vital for him going forward.
Back to the AFL scene and it is a hard one to tip. Despite a big win last week, I am still not entirely convinced Adelaide are in great shape, while the Dockers look every bit a finals bound team. The location of the game swings me towards favouring an Adelaide win. That start is going to again be important. If you knock the Dockers out of the game early, it does great things for confidence and brings the crowd into it. They have scars from the ground as recently as two months ago. Leave the Dockers with a bit of a sniff and just like Melbourne showed, trouble could brew.
Tip – Adelaide by 17 points
Weather – Showers developing. 20.
Game Info –
Adelaide v Fremantle
Saturday May 27 -7.10pm (local time) Adelaide Oval, Adelaide
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.