When: Friday 13 April 7.20 Central
Venue: Adelaide Oval
It wasn’t the most convincing win last week against the Saints, but any away win is a good one at this time of the year. Banking four points early season is key to setting up a tilt at the top 4 and the Crows will be looking to do so again this week against a Collingwood side that hit the winners list for the first time last week against Carlton.
Collingwood are a difficult side to read. Their midfield, led by Pendlebury, Sidebottom and Treloar, is as good as any side on their day and well fed by improving mobile ruckman Brodie Grundy. The inclusion of De Goey this week gives them some spark through the midfield and half forward but the loss of Taylor Adams will hurt them. The continued absence of Daniel Wells is also less than convenient as he would provide much needed outside run and class – attributes that the Pies seem to lack at the moment.
In fact, the entire Collingwood lineup can be summed up as “workmanlike”. They are all hard workers, as evidenced by their ranking of third for total disposals and tackles so far this season. Unfortunately for them, their hard work is often undone by poor disposals, ranking fourth for clangers so far this season. They also struggle to kick winning scores, with Ben Reid and Mason Cox struggling to impact games on the scoreboard. It was left to youngster Josh Thomas to grab a bag last week and you’d imagine the Crows will be looking closely at him this week.
The Crows themselves are only just going at this point of the season. Their first half against the Saints was lacklustre and it took them until midway through the third quarter to shake off their gallant opponents. Aside from the consistent Bryce Gibbs and the evergreen Rory Laird, there were few four quarter efforts from the Crows side and a couple of their young midfielders were down on their previous week’s good form. One player who will be looking forward to this match is ex Pie Paul Seedsman, who was one of a few to shine last week and is in arguably career best physical shape and form. The ex Anzac Day medallist will be keen to continue that form against his old club and he is proving a vital player in transition, averaging more metres gained than any other Crows player so far this season.
The Crows lose Lachlan Murphy this week and have brought in 18 year old Darcy Fogarty after a week’s rest. The young gun is already becoming a fan favourite at Adelaide, on the back of his bustling approach, great hands and long accurate kicking, but it’s probably the carefree way he plays his footy that we all enjoy the most. One does wonder, though, whether this is a wise inclusion. The weather forecast is for damp, windy conditions and the Crows forward line is already quite tall. The loss of Murphy diminishes our ground level capacity and the danger is that this lineup will struggle to contain the ball inside forward 50. The Pies arent tall defensively and normally this would play into Adelaide’s strength, but on a wet and windy night, this could turn into a weakness. There has been a query so far this season on Adelaide’s ability to put pressure on the opposition and the stats seem to support this, with the Crows ranked 13th in tackle differential and ninth in Forward 50 tackles. We get the feeling that much will depend on Adelaide’s overall efficiency with ball in hand, which will be impacted by their ability to handle conditions.
Key Match Ups
Eddie Betts v Sam Murray
The magician showed glimpses of his best last week and should be on a high following the birth of his twin daughters last week. Whether fatigue becomes an issue remains to be seen, but he seemed to play with more concentration and freedom last week, leading the Crows goalkickers with three. He won’t have it all his own way though, as Collingwood rookie Sam Murray had a breakout game against the Blues last week with 21 touches and 7 marks. It will be interesting to see how Eddie goes this week, as Adelaide’s lone small forward.
Sam Jacobs v Brodie Grundy
We focus on Sam once again this week as he comes up against one of my favourite ruckmen in Brodie Grundy. Grundy is a meat and potatoes ruckman who never dies wondering, has a good tank and excellent mobility. Sauce has been just ok so far this season, not really getting the better of the young St Kilda ruckman last week and perhaps not being quite on song with his tap work. Grundy will give Sauce a workout this week and, if he pushes forward, Sam may have his hands full.
Midfield v Midfield
This is where Collingwood’s strength lies and where Adelaide is currently at it’s weakest. Doubts remain about Rory Sloane’s foot with the champ spending considerable time on the bench in the second half last week. After great games against Richmond, both Hugh Greenwood and Cam Ellis-Yoleman were down against the Saints and will need to lift this week. The inclusion of Richard Douglas last week injected some experience into a fairly young group that was largely carried by the efforts of Bryce Gibbs, who has been the most consistent Crows midfielder so far this year. Even without Adams and with Treloar misfiring a little so far, the Collingwood midfield looks strong, led by Pendlebury and Sidebottom. With the weather looking bleak, a lot will ride on which team gains the ascendency in this part of the contest.
Five Talking Points
Selection – The Crows have gone tall despite the weather, in what appears to be a tactic to stretch the Magpie defence. Could be a masterstroke or could cost us the game. Time will tell.
Rory Sloane – Is he fit? Will he play? Can he have an impact?
Young guns – Greenwood and CEY need to bounce back and have big games this week. Greenwood’s work in tight and CEY’s strong body on a wet night will be pivotal.
Will we tag? – Sidebottom has been in stellar nick and is a key component of Collingwood’s midfield. With no clear tagging option, will we run close with him or will we back ourselves in?
The Fog – He’s already a cult hero, but he needs to get more of it to justify his selection this week. His work at ground level will be key, as we’ve gone in tall. His aggression and workrate will need to be right on track to avoid the ball bouncing our of our Forward 50.
Oh… and this!
Collingwood travel better than most Victorian teams and will be confident after their win against the Blues. The Crows should have the tools, but are they playing well enough? The weather will make it closer, but I expect the Crows to get the job done.
Adelaide by 27 points