The prospect of a fit-again Brad Crouch looms as a crucial boost for Adelaide’s finals chances in 2019, with the powerful midfielder starring in the Crows’ comfortable 18-point JLT Community Series victory over Greater Western Sydney at UNSW Canberra Oval.
Crouch and younger brother Matt ran rampant against the Giants, gathering 69 disposals between them as Adelaide capped off an unbeaten pre-season.
After a tight first term, the Crows’ experienced heads stood tall to steer their team to a 10.15 (75) to 7.15 (57) victory despite a late Giants fightback.
Adelaide’s key players appear to be in superb touch heading into a year where many expect the Crows to rebound strongly from a disappointing 2018 and return to September action.
Matt Crouch (38), Brad Crouch (31) and Rory Sloane (28) controlled proceedings through the midfield, while key forward Taylor Walker presented strongly at the football in attack.
Eddie Betts‘ brilliant mid-air volley, kicked deliberately off the outside of his right boot in the first term, was an example of what Adelaide desperately missed last season.
Additionally, All Australian Brodie Smith‘s (25 touches) bounce off half-back was another bright spot, while Wayne Milera (29) – a breakout candidate for 2019 – continued his improvement.
— Adelaide Crows (@Adelaide_FC) March 8, 2019
Importantly, Daniel Talia and Bryce Gibbs got games under their belt after missing last week’s win over Port Adelaide through injury, as first-round draft choice Chayce Jones (two goals) pushed his claim for a round one debut.
— Adelaide Crows (@Adelaide_FC) March 8, 2019
The return of Toby Greene and Adam Tomlinson was a welcome boost for the Giants, with Greene in everything early despite being put on a minutes restriction later in the game after off-season ankle surgery.
Greene’s night began in style with a ‘karate kick’ goal out of mid-air after controlling the footy with his left hand onto his boot, opening the Giants’ account.
Greene also had two goal assists to underline his importance to his side, before the Giants’ scoring avenues dried up.
In fact, Greater Western Sydney went goalless for two quarters as they kicked nine behinds in a row between the first minute of the second quarter and the first minute of the fourth term.
Stephen Coniglio was prolific for the Giants for the second straight week, racking up 37 disposals while All Australian Lachie Whitfield (29 disposals) and Tim Taranto (26) also featured prominently.
Key forward Jeremy Cameron bagged two goals and took seven marks, with the Giants closing the gap late in the contest but ultimately falling shy of a win.
WHAT WE LEARNED
Greater Western Sydney: Greene is the glue that keeps the Giants’ forward line together. The dynamo was in everything in the first half and once he went out of the game so did GWS. The 2016 All Australian makes GWS an infinitely better side, while Josh Kelly’s absence is a concern heading into the home and away season.
Adelaide: If the Crows can get Brodie Smith, Rory Laird and Wayne Milera streaming off half-back with regularity, they are a finals-calibre team. It was an area of the ground Adelaide suffered in when it missed September action in 2018 and coach Don Pyke is hopeful that phase of the game will return with force this season. If it does, then the Crows’ potent forward line becomes more threatening.
Greater Western Sydney: Tall midfielder Jackson Hately collected 12 touches and had a collision with Adelaide co-skipper Walker to boot, which he rebounded strongly from. Jye Caldwell only came on in the second half but displayed his footy nous on the way to eight touches. Matthew Flynn was quiet up forward with seven touches.
Adelaide: Chayce Jones played an inspired second quarter with his tackle on Adam Tomlinson leading to a goal from the goal square. The youngster, pick No.9 in last year’s NAB AFL Draft, acquitted himself nicely as he finished with nine touches, five tackles and two majors.
Rory Laird said during the week that Brodie Smith (DEF, $439,000) would take most of Adelaide’s kick-ins, and that theory was proven to be correct against the Giants. The 2014 All Australian in getting back to his best and should be a lock in your AFL Fantasy side.
Adelaide will host Hawthorn in round one at what promises to be a rocking Adelaide Oval on Saturday, March 23. The Giants will head home to Spotless Stadium with an opening-round clash against Essendon on the cards.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 3.2 3.7 3.11 7.15 (57)
ADELAIDE 3.2 6.8 9.12 10.15 (75)
Greater Western Sydney: Lloyd 2, Cameron 2, Greene, Daniels, Deledio
Adelaide: Jenkins 2, Jones 2, Betts, Atkins, Sloane, Seedsman, Milera, Walker
Greater Western Sydney: Coniglio, Whitfield, Taranto, Cameron
Adelaide: M Crouch, B Crouch, Milera, Jacobs, Sloane, Seedsman
Greater Western Sydney: Nil
Umpires: Howorth, O’Gorman, Stephens
Official crowd: 4098 at UNSW Canberra Oval
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs