Adelaide are in trouble
I’ve said enough about Port Adelaide and their woes in my time as a contributor here at AFL Space so, seeing as they had the bye, I’ll give them a reprieve. Not so lucky, though, is the Adelaide Football Club.
In what was easily the least-exciting round of season 2011, what the Crows served up on Friday night against St. Kilda was nothing short of an embarrassment. As a football die-hard, I generally don’t switch a game off, regardless of the score. Sometimes it’s good watching a team get out to a big lead to see how both teams respond to the nature of the game. It can help identify future leaders from the list cloggers. Not Friday night’s game. It was turned off by half time.
All I saw Friday night was a lazy, ill-disciplined and selfish football team in the Crows outfit. With a team that boasts Kurt Tippett, Patrick Dangerfield, Scott Thompson, Berxnie Vince, Nathan van Berlo and Graham Johncock, they should be able to score more than three goals in four quarters of football.
The issues that have haunted the Crows all season were in full effect Friday night. Their inability to get their hands on the ball was astounding. But not only were they unable to get uncontested possessions, they seemed extremely reluctant to lay tackles, recording only 53 for the game compared to St. Kilda’s 83.
For a team that prides itself on tough, uncompromising football, even Jason brand bedding supplies were tougher than the Crows. Going forward, the Crows’ delivery was atrocious. Tippett needs help. Sam Jacobs is developing nicely as a ruckman who can take a nice grab, but former Roo Brad Moran simply isn’t an AFL level talent. It’s time to let him go.
For the season, the Crows are averaging around 10 goals a game. The only other team to average less than 11 per game is the Gold Coast Suns. Who do you think has the brighter future?
Naturally after such a poor display, the coaches’ ability and job security comes into question. The players say they love Neil Craig. They want him to stay on. If that’s true and not just the automated talk of the Crows’ PR department, it’s high time these Crows started playing for the man they’ve sworn allegiance to.
Five things I liked from Round 18
Small forwards: It was a lively round for small forwards this week, with smalls Eddie Betts, Stephen Milne, Adam Schneider and Craig Bird combining for 25 goals in only three games of football. For Milne, his night may have been a bit more special, seeing as it took him within reach of Matthew Lloyd’s goal kicking record for Etihad Stadium. At times underrated due to the immense dislike that many fans harbour for the live wire, Milne’s prowess as a goalscorer cannot be underestimated. As it stands, Milne is 4th for goals kicked among active players. His 465 goals in 228 matches sees him average just over two a game. Playing good football at the moment, it’s not inconceivable that Milne will reach 500 career goals during the 2012 season. A fantastic achievement for a bloke that only stands at around 5’8” and has been (literally) overlooked for almost his entire career.
Andrew ‘Air’ Walker’s speccy: Everyone, from the crowd at the MCG, at home and Carlton coach Brett Ratten, loved Andrew Walker’s amazing mark Saturday night against Essendon. We’ve seen Nic Naitanui’s hanger that could win Mark of the Year, and Andrew Krakouer’s massive pack mark,and now Walker’s attempt at flying. A feat he nearly achieved. Blessed with an almighty leap, Walker plucked the ball from the stars Saturday night, while seeming to ride Essendon’s Jake Carlisle for what seemed an eternity. Absolutely remarkable, this grab.
Craig Bird: Somewhat of an unknown in Victoria, Sydney’s Craig Bird is showing the football world why the Sydney Swans are so high on him. Finally free of foot injuries that derailed his 2010 campaign, Bird showed this week that he can become the silky-skilled game winner in the midfield that the Swans need. With four goals against the Bulldogs, including a laser beam from outside 50, the 22 year old New South Welshman should start to garner a lot more attention from here on out.
Hawthorn’s depth: Even though they haven’t beaten Geelong or Collingwood this season, the Hawks are a genuine premiership threat and are a team that could shake up September. Even since losing Jarryd Roughead for the remainder of the season, the Hawks are still an extremely deep team. They have superstars in Luke Hodge, Lance Franklin and Sam Mitchell leading the charge, backed up by the dangerous Cyril Rioli, hard-working Brad Sewell, up-and-coming Liam Shiels and uncompromising defenders in Josh Gibson and Paul Puopolo. Make no mistake, Hawthorn’s depth and spread of contributors will make them a threat to repeat their feats of 2008 once September rolls around.
West Coast Eagles v Fremantle Dockers: The Derby never disappoints, and yesterday’s wild finish was another memorable derby that somewhat saved what was a mediocre AFL round. I know it’s somewhat petty of me, but nevertheless, after the job Hayden Ballantyne did last week against my Swans, it was lovely to see him hit the post. But that’s just the sour fan in me. Ballantyne is a great talent and he’ll be a better player after yesterday’s heartache.
Five things I didn’t
Adelaide: One word sums up Adelaide’s performance on Friday night at Etihad Stadium -Embarrassing. But, why stop there? It was sad as well, seeing a once proud club not even put up a fight against a side that hasn’t exactly set the AFL alight this season. For a professional AFL team to score only three goals in four quarters is one of the weakest and most cringeworthy feats I’ve ever seen in sport.
Richmond: Dear, oh dear. After some very encouraging early-season signs, the young Tigers have stumbled badly as of late, losing their last five games by an average of over 49 points. After some inspiring football from youngsters Trent Cotchin and Dustin Martin throughout the year, who are averaging just under 50 disposals between them, the Tigers have seemingly been dispirited and regressing somewhat in their development. There’s still a bright future there, but they desperately need some big-bodied defenders to hold down the defensive 50, a ruckman that can win hit outs and pinch hit forward to help out gun forward Jack Riewoldt. With only 5 wins so far this season, the Tigers don’t have an easy run home and are definitely in danger to finish with less wins in 2011 than they had in 2010.
Western Bulldogs: Goodbye, finals. With Saturday afternoon’s loss leaving last year’s preliminary finalists in 12th position with only 7 wins from 17 games, the Dogs’ 3-year run as top four finalists. With matches against West Coast, Hawthorn and Fremantle to finish off season 2011, the Dogs are well and truly cooked.
League parity in Round 18: Discounting the Fremantle – West Coast clash yesterday, the smallest margin of victory this week was Sydney’s 39-point win over the Western Bulldogs, with the average margin being nearly 63 points . In a league that is policed by a draft system and a salary cap to create parity, an average winning margin of 10 goals from 8 games is a result that the AFL will wish to avoid. Having said that, it could have been worse. Port Adelaide could have played!
Knights v Lloyd: This week’s ugly to-and-fro between former coach and captain tandem of Essendon was unprofessional and unnecessary. The relationship between these two was clearly sour for a very long time and I have no doubt that Knights still feels raw about the way he was let go by the Bombers after season 2010. Having said that, I expected a little bit more from both of these men, who are highly respected members of the football world.