Just three years ago, in Brenton Sanderson’s first season as Adelaide coach, the Crows pushed the eventual runners-up Hawthorn all the way in a memorable preliminary final, going down by just five points.
And this weekend, again at the MCG, Adelaide have a chance to get one back after that heartbreaking loss. And following Hawthorn’s demoralising qualifying final defeat to West Coast, there may never have been a better time to get them.
One man perhaps more than any would be riding on an Adelaide win on Friday night – caretaker coach Scott Camporeale. The former Blue and Bomber may just secure the full-time role should he take this side to a preliminary final.
Alastair Clarkson and the Hawthorn coaches will no doubt have the presence and potency of the Crows’ forward line in the back of their minds heading into the clash. We saw a stellar performance from key forward and captain Taylor Walker on Saturday night against the Western Bulldogs, who along with Patrick Dangerfield and Rory Sloane proved the difference in the end.
On Friday night in Perth the reigning dual premiers Hawthorn looked slow, and were beaten comprehensively at their own game by a home side cherry ripe for a grand final appearance.
While Adelaide have not beaten Hawthorn since the opening round of the 2011 season, but this huge game on Friday night is a genuine opportunity for them to avenge for that crushing last-gasp loss in the 2012 preliminary final. Amazingly, Adelaide went from finishing outside the eight that year to coming a kick away from a spot in a grand final.
They were widely touted as the ultimate roughy and dark horse of this finals series, we know they can produce scintillating football regularly, and have shown they can match it with the top sides.
Friday night should be a great spectacle at the MCG, and after contrasting changes in confidence for these two sides on the weekend, a mouthwatering clash is brewing.
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