Crow Call – Mid Season Review

So we have ticked into the second half of the season. How quickly they go. How do we rate Adelaide’s first twelve weeks of the year? They turn at nine and three on top of the table. You would take that any day of the week, but you just feel there is still a huge amount of room for improvement.

The Good
Highlights of the season so far have to include the debut of Hugh Greenwood, Jordan Gallucci and Jono Beech. While all have not played enough footy to label them ultimate successes just yet, all three have not looked out-of-place in the big time. The trio also all kicked a goal in their first game of footy. How good is that?! Greenwood has to be given as much midfield time as possible in the next ten weeks, Beech has to be given enough time to find his place, while Gallucci just needs to keep doing what he is doing at SANFL level as he develops his midfield engine and craft. Untried talent in Harrison Wigg and Myles Poholke are playing great footy in the reserves as well. They are there if required in the second half of the year and should be blooded if their form continues to be good enough.

Eddie Betts and Charlie Cameron have again showed how valuable they are to the Crows side. Cameron has not had a big enough run in the midfield though. Keep putting him in there. He is so quick, which helped in the early part of the year, but he has not really been seen in there since. The prospect of Cameron with a couple more seasons under his belt his tantalising.

Adelaide’s best game was against the Giants in Round One. It set the tone for the first few weeks of the year. The smashing of Richmond and the ability to come over the top of Port Adelaide in the Showdown also are up there in the highlights.

The Bad
The game against North Melbourne was one to forget and the lack of a response the week after against Melbourne was not much fun either. The third loss of the year in Geelong showed that Adelaide still have some work to do on their toughness, leadership and versatility when the going gets tough. Whether that will be the undoing come the pointy end remains to be seen and is a problem that has not yet been solved.

The form of key pillar Josh Jenkins is also a concern. His effort has certainly gone up a notch over the last couple of weeks, but he has not been the same since his rib injury. Taylor Walker has had a solid year without being outstanding, while it is particularly hard to see where David Mackay sits in the side going forward. Brad Crouch has missed a lot of footy, but he is another one you would hope starts to do a bit more in the second half of the season.

The Draw –
Adelaide have a relatively tricky draw in the second half of the year. Having said that, if the first half is anything to go by, no game is easy in 2017 regardless of the opponent. Some big Friday Night blockbusters against the Western Bulldogs, Geelong and Sydney headline the fixture ahead. A rematch against Melbourne in Darwin and a trip to Perth to face the Eagles also loom. The good thing about the run home is that Adelaide cannot be a pretender come September. If they finish top four or top two, they will well and truly have deserved to be there.

Round 14 – v Hawthorn – Adelaide Oval
Round 15 – v Carlton – MCG
Round 16 – v Western Bulldogs – Adelaide Oval
Round 17 – v Melbourne – TIO, Darwin
Round 18 – v Geelong – Adelaide Oval
Round 19 – v Collingwood – MCG
Round 20 – v Port Adelaide – Adelaide Oval
Round 21 – v Essendon – Etihad Stadium
Round 22 – v Sydney – Adelaide Oval
Round 23 – v West Coast – Domain Stadium, Perth

Sign them Up –
In a perfect world, Mitch McGovern and Jake Lever will both be at the Adelaide Football Club in 2018. Unfortunately we do not live in a perfect world and to date, both players remain unsigned. Lever’s star status rises week after week, while McGovern has had an injury interrupted year. McGovern played extremely well in the SANFL over the weekend and could slot right back into the side as early as next Thursday night. Lever has got to be the priority signing, but McGovern is not too far behind. Adelaide can continue to build a future around these two bookends. They have to do everything to get these deals right.

Injuries
Luke Brown should return in Round 15 all going well. Curtly Hampton should be available late in the home and away season and Ben Davis looks also to be working towards a similar deadline. Cam Ellis-Yolmen’s season is done.

SANFL
Adelaide sit outside the five as it currently stands. As with the AFL, the SANFL season has proven to be pretty even so far this year. It is madness to predict where the Crows will finish, because injuries play a big part in that. At the present time, Adelaide should win more than they lose, given the current state of the injury list. Harry Dear is now being developed as a defensive player. It will be interesting to watch his progress in the next couple of months. Scott Thompson seems unlikely now to return to AFL unless there are an array of injuries. His leadership at SANFL is still a highly required asset though. Injuries aside, Adelaide are nicely placed to make a run at their second finals series on the trot in the SANFL.

In conclusion, Adelaide will need to be at their best to finish top two. There best is good enough, particularly in a season as even as this one. Top four looks a little more plausible, given what we have seen from Adelaide against the better teams in recent weeks, but even that is no guarantee despite winning nine games to date. Rory Sloane has to be able to find techniques to get involved in games where he is tagged. Adelaide need to continue to move the side around and put as many players as possible through not only the midfield, but across the ground as well. We saw this happen against the Saints. It keeps teams guessing and makes the side far less predictable to play against. The season is in Adelaide’s hands now. The talent and the base has been established. It is what they do with that groundwork over the next few months that will count.

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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