After the Crows’ dominant NAB Cup series win, there’s something to rejoice about in South Australia. But they’ll have to refocus this weekend as they head up to Metricon Stadium to face the Gold Coast Suns.
As we’ve seen so far in the Richmond vs Carlton game in round 1, form in the pre-season doesn’t necessarily count when four points are on the line.
However, the Crows have a ripe opportunity to pick an opening-round win from the young Suns. The Suns are coming off a wooden spoon debut season, are yet to win a game at their home ground of Metricon and will be missing vital backman turned swingman Nathan Bock due to suspension this weekend.
Having said that, it’s obvious the Suns have a lot of talent and there is reason for them to be hopeful of making a good fist of the contest.
Gary Ablett has completed his first full pre-season on the Gold Coast and David Swallow has looked ominous in the lead up to the 2012 campaign.
With the recruitment of Matthew Warnock, the Suns can afford to throw Campbell Brown up forward, where he snagged a few goals in the NAB Cup to add some experience to a very young top six.
The forward six is really where it starts to look bad for the Suns, with the tall-timber duo of Tippett and Walker being supported by players like a fit Porplyzia, a rejeuvenated Tom Lynch and goal-kicking mids like Vince and Dangerfield.
Compare that to an inexperienced Suns forward-line with a lack of proven goal-kicking ability and you have an automatic headache for Guy McKenna.
Gold Coast will have to win the midfield battle to give a chance to their budding forward-line.
Suns coach McKenna has flagged Scott Thompson from the Crows as an important target to take out of the game, while hoping players like Swallow, Dion Prestia, Harley Benell, Sam Iles and Karmichael Hunt can give mature midfielders Ablett and Michael Rischitelli more support and chances to have big influences.
Gold Coast’s ruckman will need to fire. Sam Jacobs is rapidly improving for the Crows and they need a big forward target.
The task falls to Zac Smith, Daniel Gorringe and Tom Hickey to both do strongly in the ruck and contribute up-forward.
McKenna has taken three ruckmen into the game with this intent, but whether they will be strong enough across the board remains to be seen. He has not included veteran ruckman Josh Fraser in the line-up so the hope would be for Gorringe to reproduce his pre-season efforts at full forward.
Adelaide can easily put the points on the board and with a comparitively strong backline, they should be able to keep the rebounds up necessary to deliver it to one of their many capable goalkickers.
The Crows have been quick and precise so far this year, if they do that and use their strength to out-body the opposition, the game is as good as theirs.
Tom Lynch and Patrick Dangerfield had outstanding pre-seasons. Lynch will be looking to solidify his spot and Dangerfield will be hoping to keep up his blistering form to hopefully take pressure off the Suns midfield target Scott Thompson.
Also of note is mature-aged Ian Callinan, who slotted right in to the Crows line-up and is yet another boon for them coming into 2012.
The Crows should take the game comfortably, but the Suns will definitely come out looking to better their efforts against Adelaide last year. The midfield battle should be compelling, but the key-position players at the Crows are just far too strong.
Crows by 57 points.
B: Harbrow, Warnock, Tape
HB: Brennan, May, Taylor
C: Rischitelli, Ablett, Bennell
HF: Caddy, Lynch, Russell
F: Brown, Gorringe, A.Hall
Foll: Smith, Hunt, Swallow
Int: Hickey, Iles, Matera, Prestia
B: Doughty, Rutten, Talia
HB: Johncock, Otten, Reilly
C: Mackay, Dangerfield, Henderson
HF: Sloane, Lynch, Vince
F: Porplyzia, Tippett, Walker
R: Jacobs, S. Thompson, van Berlo
Int: Callinan, Douglas, Petrenko, Smith