When: Saturday 7 April 6.55pm Central
Venue: Etihad Stadium
After getting some mojo back against the premiers thanks to some big performances from our lesser lights, the Crows will be looking to consolidate against a St Kilda side licking their wounds following their unlikely belting at the hands of the Kangaroos. Adelaide looked far more cohesive last week and a shade fitter for their season opener. Hugh Greenwood and Cam Ellis-Yoleman enjoyed excellent games in the engine room, more than covering the early loss of prime mover Matt Crouch, and both will be looking to continue that form this week. Similarly, Josh Jenkins had a great game with 5 goals and simply must bring that form and intent this week and hereafter.
The Saints have turned their team over a little with some surprising omissions in Koby Stevens and Jack Steele. They’ve also dropped Hunter Clark and couldnt consider Billy Longer through injury. In comes midfieler Luke Dunstan, young ruckman Rowan Marshall, defender Brandon White and debutant Nick Coffield. The Crows replace the injured Matt Crouch with Richard Douglas returning from suspension, whilst young gun Darcy Fogarty sits out for the return of link man Tom Lynch for his first game of the 2018 campaign.
It’s been four years since the Saints got the better of Adelaide and, on paper, I dont expect them to do so this week. They’ve been hammered at contested football so far and their ommissions reflect that. They’ve also been smashed at clearances, one of Adelaide’s strengths and, despite the loss of Crouch, it would seem that Adelaide should dominate this area. This will expose St Kilda’s weak defence, with Nathan Brown and Jake Carlisle up against Walker and Jenkins, but it’s at ground level I feel the Saints will struggle, with their defensive stats below par. Eddie Betts will be looking for a return on the fast Etihad deck and, with Lynch back in the side, Seedsman and Milera providing bounce from half back in conjunction with the ever reliable Rory Laird, I expect to see plenty of forward entries for Adelaide this week.
Key Match Ups
Josh Jenkins v Nathan Brown
The big Jerka had a stellar first half last week and must bring that intensity and attack on the footy again this week for four quarters. He’s up against reliable Nathan Brown but has both a height and weight advantage over the former Collingwood defender and should be able to once again dominate up forward, if he makes good positions and works hard. Could be another bag for JJ tonight.
Sam Jacobs v Rowan Marshall
Sauce again figures this week, coming up against second gamer Rowan Marshall. This game is cherry ripe for Sam to stamp his authority on proceedings, both at ruck contests and general play. We saw him push forward a little bit last week and I’d expect to see the big fella work hard to make the young lad get to uncomfortable positions. Look for the big redhead to provide linkage through the middle of the ground and kick one or two himself. Hoping for a big game from Sam this week.
Daniel Talia v Josh Bruce
I expect these two to match up despite the named sides, and Bruce can be a handful if he gets his tail up. Tals returned to somewhere near good form last week, ranking second on the all important #gameofcrows scoreboard and looking fresher and more free in his movements than in Round 1. Stifling Bruce will be a key plank of the Crows strategy, and Tals will be looking to continue on from his work last week.
Five Talking Points
Eddie Betts – Much has been made of the magician’s slow start to the season, and the impact of *that* preseason camp. The stars align for Eddie tonight and Im looking to see him take some control of the situation at ground level and kick a bag.
Crows Midfield – It was the young guns who stood up against the Richmond midfield last week. You’d think there’s only going to be room for one of Greenwood and Ellis-Yoleman in a full strength Crows outfit, so both of these lads will be looking to make hay while the sun shines and press claims for a permanent midfield role.
Rory Atkins – time’s up for Rory. He’s been less than impressive this season and his general form line has been on the slide since midway through 2017. If he wants to be part of Adelaide’s 2018 flag push, he needs to step up and show that he can influence the game when the going gets tough and not just when there is easy ball to be had. Needs to use his pace and find some space to utlise his elite kick. Im not confident, but I hope for Rory’s sake he can turn it around this week.
Mitch McGovern – the Governator is an excitement machine no doubt, but has looked off the pace and lacking touch so far this season. Despite re-signing with the Crows, his spot is far from secure, with the young lad Fogarty breathing down his neck for a third tall spot. With Lynch back we should see the pressure come off McGovern a bit, but I’d like to see him stick to fundamentals rather than going for big hangers. I also cant remember the last time I saw a trademark McGovern tackle, so it would be good to see Mitch wind up the defensive pressure. Needs to kick a couple and get amongst it.
Game Plan – we saw something a little different from the Crows last week. Far less run and gun from half back and much more chip and spread. It was very effective in breaking up the Richmond midfield zone and the Crows appear to be working on this alternative style of play. It will be interesting to see which plan gets rolled out tonight. I have a feeling it might be attack at all costs, at least till half time. Nice to see Pykey adding a few new pages to the playbook.
What a difference a week makes! The Crows looked far fresher last week against the Tigers, but it can’t be discounted that, like Adelaide, Richmond had a late start to their pre-season and therefore the form line may be misleading. That said, the Saints were ordinary last week and, despite a rev up during the week from their coach, I dont think they have the cattle to overcome the 2017 runners up. I feel the Crows should dominate the clearances and forward 50 entries and have just too much firepower for St Kilda.
Adelaide by 64 points