Friday’s clash of the birds could be this year’s grand final preview

mastermind5991 Roar Guru

By mastermind5991, mastermind5991 is a Roar Guru

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    A sell-out crowd of more than 50,000 is expected to pack into the Adelaide Oval this Friday night to watch the two form sides of the competition, the Adelaide Crows and Sydney Swans, duke it out in what shapes as a potential grand final preview.

    Rarely do two non-Victorian teams get scheduled on a Friday night during the premiership season, but that’s exactly what the case will be when the Crows and Swans lock horns for the first time since last year’s semi-final.

    In that match at the SCG, the Swans taught the Crows a brutal lesson about finals football, winning by 36 points on the back of a strong performance by their midfielders.

    Not only did it add to the Crows’ pain of recent finals failures, it proved they still had a long way to go if they were to challenge for a third flag and first since 1998.

    But the Crows have surely used last year’s finals capitulation as motivation to go further in 2017, having spent the entire season in either first or second place, and kicking at least 100 points in 16 of their 20 matches.

    Their attack is deadly to the point they have kicked over 300 points and 45 goals more than the next best team, the Geelong Cats.

    That said, on each of the four times the Crows failed to crack the ton, they lost (to North Melbourne, Melbourne, the Geelong Cats and Hawthorn).

    This Friday night, Don Pyke’s men come up against the best defensive side in the competition, the Swans having conceded 38 points fewer than the next best side, Richmond. What’s more, Sydney’s percentage of 123.7 per cent is second to the Crows’ 142.1 per cent.

    The Crows may also have to face the Swans without their two most influential leaders, Taylor Walker and Rory Sloane, after both players picked up injuries in the 43-point win over Essendon last week. Losing Walker or Sloane would come as a huge blow against a side that has gathered steam in recent months, winning 12 of their last 14 matches after starting the season with six straight losses.

    That poor start led many to believe that Sydney’s time at the top was coming to an end. However, aided by the return of several key players, the Swans have risen from bottom of the ladder to fifth, with a chance to climb into the top four by the end of Round 23.

    They were barely made to sweat against a dismal Fremantle side at the SCG last Saturday afternoon, winning by 104 points, Lance Franklin kicking all four of his goals before halftime.

    What’s more, they did it without captain Josh Kennedy, who also missed the just-as-impressive win over Geelong at Simonds Stadium in Round 20, but is expected back this week.

    While the Crows can all but wrap up the minor premiership with a victory, they will have to overcome somewthing of a hoodoo to do so.

    Adealaide have lost five of their last six matches against the Swans, their only win in that period coming in Round 4 last year, when Eddie Betts kicked the match-winning goal with 30 seconds remaining.

    Betts’ record against the Swans since switching from Carlton at the end of 2013 is also surprisingly poor, kicking just seven goals –
    with six of them coming from last year’s two matches.

    Much of that can be attributed to the impressive form of Nick Smith, who has become the backbone of the Swans’ defence, along with Dane Rampe and Heath Grundy.

    A win for Sydney would see them move into the top four, and there’s the strong chance they could stay there by Sunday night, given Port Adelaide and Richmond both face tricky away assignments, against the Western Bulldogs and Fremantle respectively.

    The Swans then face Carlton in the final round before they embark on their eighth consecutive finals campaign.

    But first things first.

    While the Crows have been the best team for the majority of the season, when you take away the first six rounds, the Swans have been more impressive, winning more matches than any other side and also putting together the longest winning streak (seven matches, between rounds 12-18 inclusive).

    Whoever wins this match just might assume the mantle of premiership favourites given we are so close to what promises to be another exciting September.

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    The Crowd Says (25)

    • August 16th 2017 @ 6:47am
      Roger of Sydney said | August 16th 2017 @ 6:47am | ! Report

      Can not wait, a true test for the Swans, lets hope the crows are at full strength. Still think there is something missing with the Crows but certainly better than last year, but so are the Swans

    • August 16th 2017 @ 9:29am
      Gyfox said | August 16th 2017 @ 9:29am | ! Report

      Can not understand why round 22 is the first time Crows have met Swans

      • August 16th 2017 @ 10:24am
        Jim said | August 16th 2017 @ 10:24am | ! Report

        I get very frustrated by the inability of our major footy codes to ensure you play each team once before you play anyone twice… its really the easiest part of fixturing to get right.

      • Roar Guru

        August 16th 2017 @ 10:42am
        mastermind5991 said | August 16th 2017 @ 10:42am | ! Report

        even more intriguing – West Coast and Adelaide meet for the first time in the season in the last game of the regular season! Can’t remember the last time this had happened (the closest was when Hawthorn and Collingwood met for the only time in 2016 in a 3:20pm game on the Sunday in round 23).

        • August 16th 2017 @ 11:07am
          GJ said | August 16th 2017 @ 11:07am | ! Report

          Depending on how the games pan out this weekend, its hard to see Adelaide taking a full strength team over to Perth.

          Will the Crows vs WC game be the last played at Subiaco before the move to the new stadium?

          • Roar Guru

            August 16th 2017 @ 12:03pm
            mastermind5991 said | August 16th 2017 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

            Yes, the West Coast vs Adelaide game will almost certainly be the final game ever played at Domain Stadium.

            Given the pre-finals bye I doubt the Crows will take a weakened side to Perth for the clash against the Eagles; in fact that was why the week off was introduced in the first place, to stop coaches from deliberately fielding weaker sides (think Fremantle in 2013 and 2015).

            The Eagles might also have something to play for in the final round, if it beats GWS in Sydney this weekend.

        • Roar Rookie

          August 16th 2017 @ 1:18pm
          Tom said | August 16th 2017 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

          Dogs haven’t played Hawks yet, last round of the season is the first time.

        • Roar Rookie

          August 16th 2017 @ 1:18pm
          Tom said | August 16th 2017 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

          Dogs haven’t played Hawks yet, last round of the season is the first time.

      • August 16th 2017 @ 11:22am
        Mattyb said | August 16th 2017 @ 11:22am | ! Report

        Well Gyfox,your in for an even bigger shock next week when the hawks play the dogs for the first time in the final round.

        • August 16th 2017 @ 12:28pm
          Bruce said | August 16th 2017 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

          That was a ridiculous schedule. Dogs vs Hawks should have been in the first few rounds….it was a hugely anticipated game.

    • August 16th 2017 @ 9:48am
      Swannies said | August 16th 2017 @ 9:48am | ! Report

      Swans will be wanting to win but not revealing too much to the Crows before finals. These two teams are destined to meet in September should GWS get knocked out.

    • August 16th 2017 @ 9:52am
      Peter the Scribe said | August 16th 2017 @ 9:52am | ! Report

      Swans have been amazing from 0-6 but the crash is inevitable I feel. The Crows will have their measure and will beat them again if they meet in the finals on Adelaide’s home deck. Crows are the real deal this year and the team to beat for the 2017 flag. Crows to win this one by 19 points.

      • August 16th 2017 @ 10:39am
        Jim said | August 16th 2017 @ 10:39am | ! Report

        The crash has been a long time coming Peter – I’ve read similar comments week after week – the Swans have only been beaten by their Kryptonite since Rd 6, and over that period I believe are ~ 3 wins in front of anyone else.

        Will be interesting to see how they go against the Crows at the Adelaide Oval – a very tough challenge indeed.

        But they have a good overall record at the ground, the shape of the ground (long and narrow) appears to suit their gameplan (certainly didn’t harm them at Kardinia the other week), and last years game over there was a cracker, being a 50/50 contest until the last couple of minutes (and arguably influenced by one of the worst umpiring non-calls of the season). It really was a toss of the coin job – an electric game played at a very high tempo.

        Should be a good game on Friday night between two teams in excellent form, and maybe a preview of a more cut throat meeting later on in the season.

      • August 16th 2017 @ 11:01am
        Bloodsfan said | August 16th 2017 @ 11:01am | ! Report

        You’ve been saying this for weeks and weeks and weeks, Peter. The crash aint arrived yet. We’re just warming up!

      • Roar Pro

        August 16th 2017 @ 5:40pm
        Ben Talintyre said | August 16th 2017 @ 5:40pm | ! Report

        I can’t see a crash. I think Swans will be hard pressed to win this one in Adelaide but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Swans take it to them. To be in the position they are now after their start suggests they will go deep into finals.

    • August 16th 2017 @ 11:40am
      sammy said | August 16th 2017 @ 11:40am | ! Report

      Amusing all the talk of the swans after round 6 being 3 wins better than the next best team (the crows), but if we start at round 3, then both the crows and swans have the same wins with the crows shading it with the draw. But if we look at the teams from the beginning of the season, the crows are 3 wins and a draw ahead of the swans. It looks like it might be wet in which case I am very confident the crows will win probably in the 3-6 goal range assuming they have their full kit available. They have been by far and away the best performed team in the wet this year (freo by 17 goals, Bulldogs by 10 goals, St Kilda by 10 goals, Port by 14 goals, Melbourne away by 8 goals in the humidity). Even if it is dry, I believe that the crows only need to break even in the middle with the swans to set up a win due to the ability to score from multiple avenues….but really, who knows until the game has been played

      • August 16th 2017 @ 11:59am
        Glenn said | August 16th 2017 @ 11:59am | ! Report

        Good points, but the best over the whole season counts for nothing more than final ladder position. The first 6 weeks of the Swans season is a write off and counts for nothing as the Swans have been a different team since. Starting from that point is the only way to judge the Swans season. They will never play as bad as they did against Carlton with this list of players ever again, but your reasoning suggests that this is an example of what Sydney is capable of dishing up. Therefore something to hang your hat on as to how bad they could play come finals. Sorry, not going to happen. 3 wins better and a massive percentage is a true indication.

        • August 16th 2017 @ 12:25pm
          Danny said | August 16th 2017 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

          I agree but equally we could to an extent disregard the period from round 7 till round 14 where the crows were below par and lost 4. Sydney started the season poorly and Adelaide had a poor patch of similar length mid season.I equally say the Adelaide aren’t going to dish up how they played against North and others mid season.

          since round 14 Crows they have played 7 won 6 and drawn 1
          Sydney have won 6 of 7 in the same period

          i think its fair to say we have the two form teams facing off on Friday

        • August 16th 2017 @ 12:28pm
          sammy said | August 16th 2017 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

          not really about hanging my hat on, but more to say that form over a whole season determines where a team finishes. We know Sydney will be tough but flip it around and they will also know that the crows have destroyed teams this year and have done it against fellow top 8 teams as well. With the way the final 2 rounds will pan out, Adelaide is guaranteed a top 2 spot even if they were to rest players and drop games against the swans and west coast away. Sydney have to win both of their remaining games and hope that geelong or GWS drop both theirs or richmond drop one of theirs and with games against a woeful freo and St Kilda who are now out of finals calculations, it presents a simple path for them to secure the final top 4 spot. That means Sydney will have to win 4 finals to be premiers and 3 of those finals will be away from home unless they get GWS where the game would at least be in Sydney. If the swans lose this friday night, they are likely to finish 6th and that would pair them with Adelaide in Adelaide in a prelim providing both Adelaide and Sydney win their respective finals.I can understand why many teams would fear the swans coming into september, but unless the crows fall in a heap, they certainly have the tools and the form to dismantle the swans

    • August 16th 2017 @ 12:14pm
      Danny said | August 16th 2017 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

      Last year the Crows were also a very high scoring side. But I think their defence is now tighter and for me for the clear difference this year is the improvement in the midfield and generally their attack on the contests. These were the areas Sydney smashed then in the semi final last year. There was a mid season drop off in these areas and a slump followed. At that stage my doubts were resurfacing. But now over the past 8 weeks they have been very impressive in all aspects of their game apart from the first half against the Pies.

      During that slump it seemed that the simple answer was tag Sloan and slow their ball movement. We all wondered whether their was a plan B. Sloan is still being tagged and sometimes to good effect however this has released the Crouch brothers and Douglas in career best form. With the addition of Greenwood I think its a case of focus on Sloan at your own risk. The game plan also looks to have developed other gears, with occasional slow precise movement by foot until space is found and then suddenly up the speed into to their dangerous forward line. It is not all slingshot movement off half back, although that also remains a devastating option particularly when the ball is in the hands of Laird, Atkins or Smith.

      Friday will be a true test of Adelaide’s game under extreme physical pressure so the jury is still out. I think they can weather the Sydney storm and come out on top.

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