Where and When: AAMI Stadium, Saturday May 26, 7.10 pm
Many thought the Crows’ massive month from Round 6 to Round 9 would be their defining point of their season. Many also thought that, coming up against Sydney in Sydney, Geelong and Carlton in Melbourne, that they would consider a win or two a fantastic result.
Yet here they are, on the home straight, having not been defeated in that time and a win against Collingwood in arguably the match of the round would be the icing on the cake and soldify them as premiership contenders. But by no means will this be an easy feat.
Collingwood are chugging along, and although injury has posed a problem, they remain very underrated winning six games from eight this year. Hard to believe considering they’ve played in the last three Grand Finals.
Whatever happens, this is a massive game and a key moment in the season for both sides.
The Crows have powered their way to second on the ladder, equal on premiership points with ladder leaders West Coast, and have imposed themselves as a genuine threat to win the flag, an incredible feat considering it’s Brenton Sanderson’s first year as the coach.
It all comes from their dominant midfield, featuring the likes of Sam Jacobs in the ruck giving first use to Scott Thompson, Patrick Dangerfield and Rory Sloane, who all excel around the hard ball. From their their one-two combination of Taylor Walker (first in the Coleman Medal despite missing a game) and Kurt Tippett (eighth) providing a massive task for defenders every week with Ian Callinan, Jared Petrenko and Jason Porplyzia also providing noble support.
Unfortunately, Walker remains unavailable this week, serving the second week of a two-match suspension, but former Bomber Josh Jenkins, in his first year at the Crows has proved his versatility and size to be very handy at AFL level, serving in the ruck, as a tall forward and even linking up as another midfielder.
The overall ability of their versatile offensive weapons is the key to their success so far this year and in front of what should be a large crowd Adelaide should have the drive and skill to push even further up the ladder and put another challenger further behind.
It’s difficult to think of Collingwood as underrated, but here they are, having won their last five games including the best of them over reigning premiers Geelong last week.
It’s a fair effort made even better from their current injury list – they are missing vital players such as Luke Ball, Dane Swan, Ben Johnson, Andrew Krakouer, Nathan Brown and Ben Reid, leaving a big gap in the midfield and especially in their backline, with a severe lack of a prominent tall defenders besides Lachlan Keeffe to combat Tippett and Jenkins.
On the flipside, the absence of Luke Ball has allowed Dayne Beams and most notably Steele Sidebottom to make a vast improvement in their ball-winning and contested ability through the midfield, with the latter avergaing 34 disposals, one goal, and over six marks and five inside 50s over the last three weeks. Scott Pendlebury, as always, has remained impressive, with four goals from the midfield last week.
Despite the absences they still appear to lack real weaknesses across every line, and while the stars are missing their younger players are stepping up to the place. They’ll go in underdogs but they remain a real chance to cause an upset.
Players To Watch
Eyes were raised when Adelaide made a big play to snare the then-rookie-listed ruckman from Essendon, but the big man has proved important and impressive from his performances to date. With Walker still on the sidelines and Brown and Reid out for the Magpies he has a seriously huge opportunity to dominate.
The once-All-Australian defender has been evidently out of form over the past few weeks, appearing to make poor decisions costing his team on-field. Collingwood need a very tight backline to win this one and as a leader down there, one more mediocre game and he can forget about meeting anyone famous; rather Collingwood’s defensive coaches instead.
I’m never going to write Collingwood off, the way they gel and perform as a unit never fails to impress.
Having said that, Adelaide are in seriously good nick and to tip against them at home is bordering on madness. It won’t be a big win, but a win regardless.
Adelaide by 31 points
B: Michael Doughty, Ben Rutten, Graham Johncock
HB: Matthew Jaensch, Daniel Talia, Brent Reilly
C: David Mackay, Patrick Dangerfield, Bernie Vince
HF: Jared Petrenko, Josh Jenkins, Rory Sloane
F: Ian Callinan, Kurt Tippett, Jason Porplyzia
Foll: Sam Jacobs, Scott Thompson, Nathan van Berlo
Int: Richard Douglas, Ricky Henderson, Matthew Wright, Brodie Smith
Emg: Chris Knights, Brad Symes, Andy Otten
In: Richard Douglas
Out: Tom Lynch
B: Heritier O’Brien, Nick Maxwell, Heath Shaw
HB: Simon Buckley, Alan Toovey, Tyson Goldsack
C: Jamie Elliott, Sharrod Wellingham, Jarryd Blair
HF: Alex Fasolo, Chris Dawes, Ben Sinclair
F: Dayne Beams, Travis Cloke, Alan Didak
Foll: Darren Jolly, Scott Pendlebury, Steele Sidebottom
Int: Dale Thomas, Martin Clarke, Lachlan Keeffe, Marley Williams
Emg: Cameron Wood, Tom Young, Kirk Ugle
In: Jamie Elliott, Marley Williams
Out: Dane Swan (hamstring), Ben Reid (quad)
New: Jamie Elliott (Murray U18), Marley Williams (Claremont (WAFL))