Crow Call – Round 16 (v Western Bulldogs)

In – Andy Otten, Charlie Cameron, Scott Thompson

Out – Kyle Hartigan (hamstring), Jono Beech (omitted), Hugh Greenwood

Oh boy. Was that the sort of gritty win Adelaide had to have or was it more of the same soft football we have seen far too often from the Crows in recent weeks? The answer lies somewhere in between. The Crows have had major issues attempting to adapt when a team tries something they do not like. Even if it is the same few tactics that have been used by several teams over the last six weeks. Block the corridor, tag Rory Sloane and limit Adelaide’s clean entry into the forward line. These were again the stratergies employed by Carlton on Saturday afternoon, which almost ensured another upset.

It was pleasing to see a truckload of grunt in the last quarter when the game was on the line. Even when the Blues got in front, Adelaide responded accordingly and got the job done. This was the hardness and determination lacking in the last quarter against the Hawks last week, so it was reassuring to see a quick turnaround. There was plenty to take from the last quarter that should be persisted with for coming weeks. Aspects such as reducing the handballs during a passage of play, backing players like Mitch McGovern to take contested marks and pressure, pressure, pressure. Taylor Walker’s leadership was better, Hugh Greenwood played a bit of a tagging role and the tackling went up a notch during that final quarter. As such it was Carlton who were forced into making errors. It is amazing what can happen when a few things are tinkered. The same things we have all been calling out for weeks.

The first quarter fast start was also pleasing, but the drop off during the second and third quarter where Carlton got to play the sort of game they wanted was disappointing. They got away with it this week Adelaide, but it would have been better to see some changes made earlier than the last quarter.

Kyle Hartigan’s injury is the sour point to come out of the game. Kyle Cheney was the obvious replacement, but has managed to do another hamstring himself. Say what you like about the hamstring curse, but down back it has now engulfed Hartigan, Cheney for the second time, Jake Lever and Daniel Talia. There is an underlying issue there. Andy Otten comes back into the side after a one-week lay off in the SANFL. He has more than earned himself another contract at the Crows if he wants one. Otten has plugged holes left, right and centre so far this year and seems to relish doing it too. Tom Doedee would have been considered this week, but he is not a like for like replacement for Hartigan in terms of body weight and strength.

It is meant to be wet on Friday night, which is the only possible reason that Scott Thompson has been recalled over Hugh Greenwood who has been dropped. Words cannot describe how ludicrous that call is.

So the Western Bulldogs this week. A team Adelaide failed to beat in 2016 in the one and only outing. However, the Dogs are a far harder prospect at Etihad Stadium than they are at the Adelaide Oval. The forecast is for showers, which will most likely turn it into another scrap. This is probably good for Adelaide, as it may reduce the Dogs pace a touch. It is the first of a few fifty-fifty games for the Crows, particularly given the Dogs are not the team they were during the finals series last year. Adelaide really cannot drop anymore at home and expect to finish top four. It would be really good if they could send a message to the competition on a Friday Night that they are still in this race for the premiership. There is no better way to do that then knocking off the Dogs.

It will be interesting to see what Adelaide do about Jason Johannisen. The template is there on how to stop him. The Crows would be mad not to follow it. But will they?

In recent years, the Western Bulldogs have made Adelaide look slow. The addition of Charlie Cameron this week is vital. He must play more midfield minutes. He was electric in there in the opening rounds, but has been rarely seen for some reason since. Paul Seedsman misses out this week again, but you feel this would have been the perfect game for him to return. He adds pace and perhaps could even allow Brodie Smith to play a bit more up the ground. He is not far away from game one of 2017.

In the SANFL over the weekend, as expected, Adelaide got smashed by Sturt after having to make seven changes to the side that beat Central District the week before. Harrison Wigg returns to the SANFL side this week after having a hip injury that somehow suddenly appeared before last weekend’s game. While Reilly O’Brien misses another week with a back injury also sustained strangely before last weekend’s game. Along with Cheney, none of these injuries appeared on the Tuesday injury list last week and there was no mention of them until team selection time. This column has said it multiple times this year, but the secrecy is simply not good enough from Adelaide.

Jono Beech also comes back into the SANFL side after three AFL games. Beech was serviceable and will still most likely play a vital role before the season is out. He is just one notch off the pace at the moment, but that will come. The SANFL Showdown between Port Adelaide and the Crows awaits on Saturday. With some key personnel back, this should be a far more competitive Adelaide than against Sturt. It will be good for the likes of Doedee, Wigg and Gallucci to go up against other AFL bodies and talent.

So which way does the Crows, Dogs fall? For mine it is down once again to the midfield and the pressure. Clearances have been an area of concern for the Crows in key moments. The Dogs fast breaks have hurt Adelaide in the past, so Adelaide must get first use of the ball and use it well and pressure the Dogs into sloppy errors at all times. Do that and Adelaide will win.

Tip Adelaide by 13 points

Weather – Showers. 15.

Game Info –
Adelaide v Western Bulldogs
Friday July 7 – 7.20pm (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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