In – Taylor Walker, Hugh Greenwood, Daniel Talia
Out – Rory Sloane, Wayne Milera, Alex Keath
It seems like a such long time ago when Adelaide last played a game of footy. What a ridiculous week without any football. The momentum is non-existent. However from 7.20pm tomorrow night it will be on for young and old as Adelaide start their third consecutive finals campaign.
What were the chances of two players in Adelaide’s best twenty-two contracting appendicitis in the same season? Not high you wouldn’t have thought. The Crows have had some strange hurdles to clear this year. Rory Sloane has been ruled out of the match having failed to recover in time from his particular bout of appendicitis. It is a huge loss for the Crows and will make the job of overcoming the Giants that little bit harder. It is going to be left to the Crouch brothers to fill that void in the middle. They are more than capable, but Adelaide are in a spot of bother if they fail to fire. There is no margin for error now without Adelaide’s best player.
On the team sheets, there are three big ins with Daniel Talia, Taylor Walker and Hugh Greenwood all returning. They replace Alex Keath, Wayne Milera as well as the aforementioned Sloane. Keath and Milera will no doubt play in Adelaide’s scratch match against the GWS reserves team at Football Park on Friday. That is a great initiative from both teams and will be vitally important in order to keep match fitness in the players who do not line up tomorrow night. Keath can consider himself unlucky to be left out of the AFL side, but Hartigan did make a pretty successful comeback from injury in that Round 23 game against the Eagles and was pretty solid on Josh Kennedy. The experience he can bring into the final on Thursday will be vital.
The Crows enter the finals on the back of two losses, but arguably have had a better lead in than in 2016 when they played a series of weaker teams ahead of September. Talia, Walker and Greenwood have not had a game of footy for quite some time, which will go one of two ways. They all might be really fresh or they could take some time to get a feel for the body again. For Adelaide’s sake, let’s hope it is the former.
The weather forecast is for a shower or two, so it will not be ultra wet. It will be cold no doubt with Spring not quite arriving in Adelaide just yet this week. Neither the cold or the wet then can be used as an excuse for poor goal kicking, which has plagued Adelaide a bit during the last few weeks of the home and away season. The Crows have been fairly accurate all year and their form and mental application has been hard to judge in the last three or so weeks, but kick inaccurately in a final and you are no chance to win.
GWS have got talent to burn. Adelaide did a number on them in Round One, but that was twenty-five or so weeks ago. A lot changes in six months. An area where Adelaide do hold the upper hand is down forward. The GWS defence is not the strong point of their side. It is by no means terrible, but if Adelaide can get enough supply to their forward line, they will kick a score. The key word there is if. That midfield battle and clearance work will be huge come Thursday night. Win that and win the game.
Steve Johnson misses out for GWS. He struggled in that opening encounter earlier in the year and has looked even more puffed as the year has gone on. It is no surprise to see him omitted. Meanwhile Devon Smith is the big out for the Giants. It does not quite cancel the Sloane injury out, but it certainly makes it a bit more of a neutral situation.
To the result and I am predicting heartache for Crows fans on Thursday night. The loss of Rory Sloane is huge. It allows GWS the opportunity to tag Matt Crouch or even Rory Laird, both of which will need big games if Adelaide are to get over the line. Adelaide need to get everything right without Sloane you feel, which in a final is a big ask. A loss sets up a potential Semi-Final Showdown with Port Adelaide next weekend. A win secures a home preliminary final, most likely against Sydney. There is a lot on the line and Adelaide will have to reapture a bit of form and dig that little bit deeper to get the W. It is not beyond them, but it will not be easy.
GWS by 13 points.
Game Info –
Adelaide v GWS
Thursday September 7 – 7.20pm (local time) Adelaide Oval
Shower or two. 15.
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.