When: Friday 23 March 7.20pm Central
Venue: Etihad Stadium
We are back! After that day in 2017 we no longer speak of, we went through a trade period that saw us net the son of a club legend, a speedy and skilful half back/midfielder, a man child and lastly, someone who should have been with the club some 12 years ago.
In saying that though, that all means nothing as we are about to embark on what some will say redemption, some will say a revival, but what I call a new start.
Early announcements of both Darcy Fogarty and Tom ‘The Dood’ Doedee debuting in round one have somewhat lifted my spirits and shown that we have learned from mistakes, and the club are looking to breathe life and energy back in to our best 22.
With that, let’s take a look at what is ahead as we begin our journey (again) to ultimate success.
With the Crows, while we have been tipped as a top four chance again in 2018, there is always that nagging feeling of ‘are we really that good?’ As supporters, admit it, you know what I mean.
Highest scoring team in 2017, with the best forward line in the competition. One of the best young mids in Matt Crouch, but we somehow continually step on our own toes and find a way make things harder for ourselves. It is a theme that would ease a lot of tension from the supporting group if it were to stop.
But, as mentioned, this is 2018 and we set our expectations again and this all starts against Essendon on Friday Night Footy at Etihad Stadium. Our record against the Bombers in recent has been somewhat flattering, but 2018 is set to be an improved year where it is expected that they will be a force. From their finals loss against Sydney, they will be without James Kelly and Jobe Watson (retirement) and both Orazio Fantasia and Martin Gleeson (injury). Incoming to their best 22 will be Adam Saad, Devon Smith and Jake Stringer who found their way through the trade period.
It is hard to really know what to expect from both teams, but the Bombers play Etihad well and they are a run and gun side, which, at times, we find difficult to deal with.
Key Match Ups
Daniel Talia v Joe Daniher
I am expecting Daniher to explode this year. He has continually built on each year and with the supply coming in from the Bombers mids and support inside 50, Talia more than has his hands full with Daniher.
Josh Jenkins v Josh Jenkins
There has been much said about Jenkins’ preseason, but the words from coach, Don Pyke should ease his mind with Pyke stating that Jenkins, while not seeing the value from his game time, played to his role in the side. There is no doubting his ability to impact the scoreboard, but with Taylor Walker out, there is far more focus on him with a likely match up against Michael Hurley expected.
Matt Crouch v Zach Merrett
While both midfielders will not go head to head, they are imperative to their sides through their ball winning ability. Both players are accumulators of the ball, it will just come down to who does the most with it at the time.
Eddie Betts v Andrew McGrath/Adam Saad
Unfortunately Eddie has two guys who have kept him in close check, with little to no impact in their games. With no Walker and a debutant in Darcy Fogarty in the Crows forward line, the coaching staff will be looking to Betts to take the lead inside 50.
Five Talking Points
Jake Stringer – after making the move from the Bulldogs, Stringer has been relatively quiet on the field during the Bombers preseason, but as he has shown, he has the ability to turn a game on its head at any time.
Bryce Gibbs – there is no doubting the calibre of player Gibbs is, there will be a lot more focus on him both on and off the field come Friday night. Attending a JLT high 23.5 (avg) centre bounces, there is a clear sign that Gibbs will be spending far more time as a pure on-baller.
Adelaide – it has been a continuous frustration for all Crows supporters, and it was again evident during the JLT, but the inability to shut a game out and leave it open for an opposition comeback is a worry trend. Essendon are a hard-running side, and given the opportunity, they will not stop coming back at their opposition all game
Making a statement – nothing is given in football and while making a grand final in 2017, a lot has already been spoken about regarding Adelaide slipping away and taking time to “recover” and getting in to the 2018 season. A strong win against a side that is being touted as a finals contender, will go a long way to showing that the club has learnt from their loss.
Winning in Melbourne – in 2017, we played six games in Melbourne for only a 50% win rate. To come away with the four points from Rd 1 would be a big confidence kick for what will be a trying season all year long.
Adelaide have been the dominant side, with an average winning margin of 75 points from the last four matches, but the promising thing for both supporter bases is being first game of the year form means little.
Both sides are well covered at either end of the ground which will be the biggest highlight of the match, but with a midfield that goes a little deeper through their rotations, Adelaide should provide more pressure on the Essendon defensive line.
With what has the makings of a quality launch to Friday night football, Adelaide have more winners across each position who will get the job done in a close contest.
Adelaide by 13 points