Another solid win against a team that will most likely play finals and barring an absolute disaster, top two spot is locked up. It was not until you sat back and watched the replay that you realised what a good win this was indeed for Adelaide. At times they were challenged and there were huge momentum swings, but the Crows never panicked and just simply did what they needed to do, when they needed to do it in order to get the four points.
The only concerns to come out of that game were some injuries. Despite the fact that Taylor Walker and Rory Sloane have been named this week, it is clear that they are not 100% fit. The Crows took several injured stars into a final series last year and it hurt them. You would be disappointed if both Walker and Sloane are playing this week despite not being right. There is nothing to gain by banging them up any more than they already are. Bigger fish to fry.
Sydney will be a big test for the Crows. Where are Adelaide at mentally with a top two spot all but sewn up? What do they want to leave in the bank ahead of a possible rematch against the Swans in a couple of weeks time? Don Pyke mind you would answer that question with “nothing”. The players would not be human if you did not have some thoughts about not giving 100% with bigger things on the horizon. How will Adelaide cope with that? These are all interesting questions that Friday night will throw up.
Conditions will be a tad damp by all reports, but nothing like some of the other wet games we have seen Adelaide play in so far this year. It does not appear that the rain will be a major factor in this one. One thing you can guarantee though is that Sydney will not be strutting out onto the Adelaide Oval wearing sleeves.
It was pleasing to see Rory Atkins find some form last week. He has had a solid year, without being outstanding. He, along with Brodie Smith were great against Essendon. Matt Crouch is being talked about as a smokey for the Brownlow. While that is an unlikely concept, he has had a brilliant year. Crouch just has to now maintain this sort of pace. He will be a super important player in the finals when it becomes an even more contested sort of game. How long before teams put a bit more attention into Crouch through the use of a tag? You could argue that you would be better off tagging Crouch than Sloane at the present time.
The twenty-two that played last Saturday Night are probably Adelaide’s best twenty-two with Paul Seedsman, Kyle Hartigan and Wayne Milera probably the unlucky three best emergencies. I think Alex Keath in his four games has gone past Kyle Hartigan. He just adds something Hartigan does not in pace and the reading of the ball. The good thing too is that beyond that twenty-five, Adelaide have plenty of depth in the SANFL at the moment, which will no doubt be vital when an injury or two pop up in the next few weeks.
Sydney have been a frightening team since starting the season zero and six. With only two losses since that awful start, both to Hawthorn, Sydney will be a big test for the Crows. The old cliché of winning contested possession will basically decide this game. We saw it in the semi-final last year when Adelaide were heavily beaten up through the middle. The Crows have learnt a lot since then and played some great footy. It would be a huge disappointment if there were to be a repeat of that game on Friday night from Adelaide. Isaac Heeney has to have some work put into him. Could this be another role for young Riley Knight? Heeney has so much talent and can punish on the scoreboard very quickly. In fact, the Swans have serious talent across all lines. Interestingly Kurt Tippett has worked his way back into Sydney’s best twenty-two. Sydney did not miss him during that middle part of the year and it is strange to see him back given the height Sydney already have at their disposal.
There has been plenty of media pointing to the fact the Sydney have the wood on the Crows. That is wrong for mine. Adelaide beat Sydney last year at the Adelaide Oval. Sure, the last clash between these two teams was a blow out, but I do not think the gap was or is as big as some would have you believe.
The finals remain a possibility for Adelaide in the SANFL, but it would take some favourable results from other games for it to happen. The Crows would also have to get past the ladder leading Eagles this week. Paul Seedsman was best for Adelaide last week, while Troy Menzel finally found a bit of form. There are some big ins for Sunday’s game, which will aid Adelaide’s chances. Curtly Hampton and Kyle Hartigan both return from injury, while Kyle Cheney has done his time with suspension. Meanwhile Harrison Wigg would also get a gig after serving as the travelling emergency last week. It was pleasing to see Reilly O’Brien get through the game last week too after an extended period on the sidelines with a back injury. He has a bright future ahead of him.
Adelaide have a lot to play for despite what the ladder position suggests this week. They can dent Sydney’s top four hopes, lock up top spot and gain more confidence. I fear though that the Crows may have mentally switched to finals. Sydney have to win to be any chance of top four and you can just see them coming out a tad hungrier than the Crows. Adelaide have proved me wrong on many an occasion this year already though and perhaps they will do it again tomorrow night.
Sydney by 11 points.
Game Info –
Adelaide v Sydney
Friday August 18 – 7.20pm (local time) Adelaide Oval
Shower or two. 14.
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.