Zero Hanger is bringing you all the mid-season reviews of every AFL club during the next three weeks as the bye rounds take place. This week, Adelaide, Carlton, Collingwood, Gold Coast, Richmond and St Kilda will all be looked at. First cab off the rank, is Adelaide.
Pre-Season Prediction: 11th
Current Position: 8th
Premiership Odds: $9 (via TopSport)
Forecast: A finish between 5-8
The Crows have definitely surprised me this season. I was one who had them dropping off and finishing outside the eight without their former star player Patrick Dangerfield.
Although they do miss him, lets be honest, they have proven that the whole is bigger than the part and they have found a way to stay competitive without him and not just competitive but a shoe in for finals.
Adelaide had the bye last week and with a game in hand, sit two games clear of their cross-town rivals with a massive clash with North Melbourne in Adelaide on Thursday night to come.
What has worked
Their forward setup is brilliant and the best in the league under coach Don Pyke. Josh Jenkins (37), Eddie Betts (33), Taylor Walker (29) and Tom Lynch (21) are all contributing on the scoreboard and are nightmare matchups for opposing teams.
Throw in Mitch McGovern who averages a goal a game and you’ve got five players very capable of kicking the Crows to a winning score.
Adelaide are the number one ranked team for effectiveness inside 50 going at a rate of 54 per cent. Hawthorn, Western Bulldogs and the Sydney Swans are all going under 50 per cent which shows just how close together the top eight is at the moment.
As a result, the Crows are the highest scoring team in the league with an average of 113.8 points per game. So why are they sitting at eighth and not in the top four?
What hasn’t worked
A couple of things. One is their lack of inside 50 numbers. They only average 56.5 a game which has them ranked 10th in the competition behind the two teams that sit below them on the ladder. The main reason for this is its vulnerable defence.
Adelaide have conceded a score to 48 per cent of their opposition entries, which is the fifth worst rate in the league. Its exactly how Geelong carved them up on their own patch back in round 8. The Cats kicked 13.20 that night and it could of been much worse than the 26 point margin suggests.
The same thing happened in their three other losses to North Melbourne, Hawthorn and the Western Bulldogs. Against the stronger sides in the competition, their leaking too many inside 50s.
Adelaide’s attack stems from their defence and they need to focus more on team defence. This was on show particularly in their win over West Coast before the bye. A lot of their re-entries into the forward 50 came from that defence that restricted West Coast to just 76 points, a team that thrives on blowing sides away in Perth.
Rory Sloane has filled the gap left by Patrick Dangerfield, stepping up to the plate in terms of production and on-field leadership.
His averages are up from last year, 24.5 disposals per game, 13 of them contested, 341.2 metres gained, 7.5 score involvements per game as well as averaging 6.8 tackles a game. With a healthy disposal efficiency of 71 per cent, they’re aren’t many better midfielders in the game than Sloane at the moment.
His form and drive through the middle has been a big reason as to why Adelaide sit 8-4 with the most potent forward line in the competition receiving consistent service.
He is second in the AFL Coaches Association Champion Player of the Year Award and has surely racked up a few brownlow votes to go with that. Expect a massive second half of the year from Rory.
Recruited in 2014 at no. 43. Mitch McGovern made his debut in Round 1 and has played every game since, kicking 16 goals, averaging 10 disposals and four marks a game as very athletic forward.
In a forward line that all ready has talls in Jenkins, Walker and Lynch, it was hard to see where another 191cm and 89kg target would fit. But to his credit his earned his spot and kept it and now plays an important role in Adelaide’s forward setup.
In terms of players drafted in the 2015 draft, Wayne Milera, taken at no. 11 has played eight games after turning it on for Central Districts in the SANFL last season. His highlight so far this season came in Adelaide’s 75 point win over Gold Coast in Round 9 where he kicked three goals and finished with 12 disposals.
He has played two games since then and he will be looking to cement his place in the side once he gets another shot.
Second half expectations
Adelaide’s remaining fixtures work in their favour with very few hard games to come. North Melbourne obviously will be a challenge this week, but fresh off the bye they should be confident of getting a win against a Kangaroos side that is coming off two bruising encounters.
Other than that, away trips to Melbourne, Carlton and Geelong should see them pick up at least two wins while favourable home matchups against Collingwood, Essendon, Brisbane, Port Adelaide and West Coast will provide them with a chance to improve on their already solid percentage of 127.89.
Out of their 10 remaining games, I’ve got them winning at least seven or eight of them which has them right in the hunt for top four. However, I’m still not convinced they can match it with the very top teams in the competition, so I have got them finishing fifth with a home final.