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Sports Media

AFL 2022: Adelaide Crows season preview

Vendetta Sports Media is once again covering Australian Rules Football in 2022. We start our AFL season preview series with a look at the prospects of the Adelaide Crows.

Adelaide Crows home geurnsey.

The Crows slide into the abyss following their 2017 Grand Final loss was as swift as it was shocking. They showed signs of life in 2021 but can Adelaide continue their steady rebuild in 2022?

Season 2021

15th position: 7 wins, 15 losses, 82%.

Adelaide shocked the AFL world with their hot start to 2021. The presumed wooden spooners blindsided Geelong in round 1 and had matched 2020’s total of three wins by round four.

Reality set in with five straight losses, though they then somewhat controversially took down the to-that-point undefeated (and eventual Premiers) Melbourne by a point. The Crows also scored a memorable victory over St Kilda with rookie forward Riley Thilthorpe leading an unlikely comeback.

Adelaide were driven forward by a midfield that was anchored by veterans Rory Sloane, Rory Laird, Paul Seedsman and Ben Keays. Veteran forward Taylor Walker enjoyed an Indian Summer that was tainted by a racism row late in the season.

Key ins: Jordan Dawson (Sydney), Jake Soligo, Luke Nankervis, Zac Taylor, Josh Rachele (all draft)

Key outs: Jake Kelly (Essendon), David Mackay (retired), Daniel Talia, Ben Davis, Ronin O’Connor, Tom Lynch (all released)

Coach Matthew Nicks has made it clear that he wants to play an attacking, run-and-carry style of football. With a midfield capable of power running and Brodie Smith a good running option from half back, the Crows love to use quick handballs and overlapping runs. They also have a plethora of youngsters beginning to emerge in Lachie Scholl, Harry Schoenberg, Brayden Cook and Jackson Hately, who will be looking for a bounceback season after a disappointing debut in Crows colours in 2021. Adelaide’s big off-season acquisition is former Swan Jordan Dawson, who only adds to that running brigade; as does Wayne Milera who returns after missing the entire 2021 season with a knee injury.

The Crows attack is predicated on even more speed, as their army of small forwards buzz around, tackling everything that moves. Jimmy Rowe, Shane McAdam, Sam Berry and Ned McHenry are, when at their best, a whirring swarm creating rushed possessions from the opposition backline. They’ll be joined by 6th overall pick Josh Rachele, who will likely spend most of his rookie year in the forward line as he develops his game.

Much depends on the form – and presence – of the veteran Walker. Turning 32 early in the season, Walker was fantastic last season, his 48 goals more that tripling his 2020 output. As a result of the racism controversy that he saw himself in late in the season, he is suspended until round four, presenting the perfect opportunity for the impressive youngster Thilthorpe to stake his claim as the first choice full forward.

Defensively, the Crows are still lacking real quality outside of Tom Doedee. It was presumed that Dawson was brought in to solidify the defense, though it’s come to light that he’s going to play on the wing in Adelaide.

Prediction: 17th

The league will be wary of a fast starting Crows side this time around, so they shouldn’t be able to score cheap victories as they did early in 2021.

Adelaide’s speedy, attacking midfield and exciting young forward line should see them put points on the board. Unfortunately a lack of defensive steel in that midfield and a woefully porous backline will see them give up too many to make any real impact in the league.

The Crows will be exciting, but they’ll finish near the foot of the AFL ladder.

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