In the lead up to the 2017 season, we will be assessing each club’s list and naming our best 22 for round one. Working our way up the ladder; following the analysis of West Coast, the next cab off the rank is Adelaide.
Zero Hanger 2017 ladder prediction: 5th
Adelaide was one of the great success stories of 2016. After losing Patrick Dangerfield in the 2015 trade period, many had tipped the Crows to slide down the ladder. But with the addition of new coach Don Pyke and a successful game plan, the Crows surprised the football world. They seemed like premiership contenders. But after falling out of the top four due to their disappointing round 23 loss, they left themselves with a tough run and it was ultimately too difficult.
The Crows were the highest scoring team in the competition last year, averaging 112.86 points per game. It was largely due to their attacking game style but their star-studded forward line certainly contributed. The Jenkins-Walker-Lynch combination is outstanding, the mobility of all three players makes them incredibly difficult to match up on. Charlie Cameron and Mitch McGovern are young stars and Eddie Betts continues to amaze, his 75 goal total for the season 2016 was incredible. It’s hard to see a small forward coming close to that anytime soon.
Adelaide’s defensive posts can be built around for the next seven or eight years. Daniel Talia’s effort to battle through a groin injury in the final against the Swans was inspirational, while Jake Lever is one of the best young defenders in the competition. The supporting cast isn’t bad either as Luke Brown, Kyle Cheney and in particular Rory Laird provide a good balance between negating the opposition and launching their own attacks.
The elimination final against the Swans revealed a lot about the Crows. A first half blitz by the Swans basically killed the game by half time, and it was the midfield battle that did the damage. Sydney had 92 more disposals, nine more clearances and 20 more contested possessions. The key members of the midfield: Kennedy (42 disposals), Heeney (32), Hannebery (31), Mitchell (32) and Parker (24) all won the ball at will. While excluding Matt Crouch (34), all of Adelaide’s midfield struggled to make a meaningful impact. The Crows tried to address this in the off-season by signing Bryce Gibbs, he would have put them into premiership contention. Without him their midfield doesn’t seem to have the strength to compete with the best sides in September.
The success of their game plan could prove to be a blessing or a curse this year. So many seasons before we have witnessed teams shoot up the ladder with a winning game style, only to crash back down when they get figured out the next year. It happened to Port Adelaide in 2015, Carlton in 2012 and Richmond in 2016. It could happen to the Crows if they don’t adapt in 2017, although I can’t see Don Pyke resting on his laurels and allowing that to happen.
Projected Adelaide 2017 round one best 22:
FB: Kyle Hartigan, Daniel Talia, Luke Brown
HB: Rory Laird, Jake Lever, Brodie Smith
HF: Charlie Cameron, Taylor Walker, Tom Lynch
FF: Eddie Betts, Josh Jenkins, Mitch McGovern
Not considered: Brad Crouch (hamstring)