Adelaide enter the AFL finals perfectly prepared for the brutality to come, coach Brenton Sanderson says.
The Crows snared second spot and a precious home qualifying final, against Sydney, by putting the finishing touches on Sanderson’s minor-round plan on Saturday.
Adelaide trounced Gold Coast by 91 points at AAMI Stadium, equalled the club record for most wins in a season – 17 – and took second position.
But Sanderson warned his players to forget the triumph, inspired by Brownlow medal fancy Patrick Dangerfield collecting 36 disposals and kicking two goals, and “finally talk about finals”.
“It’s time to turn up the heat,” Sanderson said after Adelaide’s 22.21 (153) to 9.8 (62) thrashing of the Suns.
“The game does change … it just becomes brutal at times.”
Adelaide will recall their leading goalkicker Taylor Walker (hip) and club champion Bernie Vince (knee) for the qualifying final after both missed Saturday’s cakewalk with minor ailments.
Sanderson, whose playing list has no other injuries, dismissed the notion the Crows finished second due to a favourable fixture.
“We were given our draw … but forget about what has happened in the past – everything starts now by looking forward,” he said.
“We have just got to make sure now that, without getting anxious and too uptight about it, we prepare this week like our life depends on it.”
Sanderson’s Crows toyed with the Suns, with small forwards Ian Callinan and Graham Johncock delving into their trick bags to kick four goals each to cover Walker’s absence.
Dangerfield was at his pack-tearing peak in a personal duel for the three votes with his midfield partner and fellow Brownlow favourite Scott Thompson, who gathered 30 disposals and kicked 2.4.
Adelaide tap-man Sam Jacobs ruled the rucks, dashing David Mackay created great drive from half-back and the gifted Jason Porplyzia was influential.
A host of other contributors left Suns’ coach Guy McKenna believing the Crows can win the premiership.
“They are certainly good enough – that is for sure,” McKenna said.
Gold Coast finished the season with three wins – the same as on debut last year, though McKenna was certain the club had “quite clearly” improved on last season.
But the Suns will likely start their next season without Campbell Brown, whose lengthy rap sheet will work against him after being reported for making front-on contact to Adelaide’s Aidan Riley in a crude second-quarter collision.