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A free ticket to the Preliminary Final is on the line as the Adelaide Crows host the Sydney Swans at AAMI Stadium. We’ll have live AFL finals scores and updates from 3:15pm AEST (2:45pm local)
It’s fair to say that both sides are somewhat underrated coming into the finals series.
Adelaide with their soft draw that’s seen them play both the Gold Coast and GWS twice throughout the season and the Sydney Swans just continually being underdogs, while losing three of their last four against fancied September opponents.
Today, one of these teams will be one win away from a Grand Final spot – something thought close to impossible at the start of the season.
The Adelaide Crows come into today’s game not only with the home ground advantage, but with a massive hold on clashes against the Swans.
In the last ten years, the Swans have only been able to get past the Crows twice. Even in the year’s they made the Grand Final they weren’t able to beat Adelaide.
The question surrounding the Adelaide Crows is a fair one – when the test comes in the finals, have they had enough of a test throughout the season?
Their loss to the Brisbane Lions three weeks ago was a worrying one, when they led early only to have the Lions run over them.
They’ve done what they needed to do in their last two matches – a 79-point win against Melbourne and a 91-point win against the Suns. At the very least, it was good to see them do what was needed.
The inclusion of Taylor Walker into the lineup gives the Crows their strong forward-line that extra boost. But as we’ve seen so far in 2012, the duo of Walker and Kurt Tippett hasn’t always worked (a bit like how Cloke and Dawes has hardly worked for Collingwood).
The midfield has been dynamic all season with Scott Thompson continually wracking up possessions, Rory Sloane and Patrick Dangerfield feeding the forward line, while Nathan van Berlo and Brent Reilly have been stout defenders at times of need.
There’s no doubt when you’ve watched the Adelaide Crows this season, they have been exceptional no matter who they’ve played. That comes from the great mind of Brenton Sanderson who has tinkered with the game plan enough for it to become a more attacking team, while still keeping the elements of defence drilled into them by former coach Neil Craig.
For the Sydney Swans, flying under the radar is quite normal for them.
They signalled their intentions for a flag when they flew to the other side of the country to beat the West Coast Eagles at Patersons Stadium – and finally the AFL world stood up and took notice.
Since then, they have become the hunted. Losing to Collingwood and Hawthorn in the last minutes were good battles and showed they can match it with the best, while being blown away in the forty minutes by Geelong on the road showed signs of fatigue setting in for the Swans.
But it’s very rare for the Swans to put in two poor performances in a row – their losses this season have not been blow outs.
The reason for the Swans being so successful, especially in the first half of the season was the number of goal kickers they’ve been able to find.
Lewis Jetta is their leading goal scorer with forty, while seven other players have been able to score twenty goals of more (an equal best in the league).
It is fair to say though Jetta has been shut down effectively in the back half of the season, where he looked to be a chance to win the Coleman a couple of months ago.
Sam Reid coming back into the lineup is a major plus as they too strengthen their forward line. He averages 1.5 goals a game and is a plus for their smaller forwards like Jetta and O’Keefe.
Jude Bolton back in the Sydney team is remarkable and played pretty well last week for patches and will be better for the run.
The shining light of the Swans has been their defence – the stingiest in the entire league. Ted Richards deserves to be in the All-Australian team for his shut down roles on some of the biggest forwards in the competition, while the rise of Alex Johnson has been impressive.
Lewis Roberts-Thomson has had another stellar year, while the smaller defenders in Nick Malceski and Rhyce Shaw continue to go unnoticed for their work.
If Walker and Tippett aren’t firing for the Adelaide Crows, this is where the Swans can really take control of the contest.