Eddie Betts is something special. You don’t have to be an Adelaide supporter to see it.
His dazzling six-goal performance in last week’s elimination final win against North Melbourne set the tone for the offensively-minded Crows. In fact, their dynamic forward line has set the tone for the whole year.
Adelaide finished the season as the league’s highest scoring side. They average 114 points per match, and their score of 141 last week counts as their 17th 100-plus scoreline of the year.
This brand of high scoring and quick play has allowed the Crows to be a fierce competitor all year. And while it was undoubtedly effective against a lacklustre North Melbourne side, will it be enough to get past the Swans in the semi final?
Adelaide coach Don Pyke says his side is ready for the test.
“It’s a terrific challenge,” Pyke said. “Clearly they are going to be disappointed from the result (against Greater Western Sydney) and we’ll expect a fired-up Sydney.”
The Swans will undoubtedly be ‘fired-up’. A disappointing performance against GWS, their ‘little brother’, was not expectant of the minor premiers. They will be looking to rectify the mistakes of last week, coming out at their very best.
But injuries acquired during the loss to the Giants could have an impact on their finals charge.
A fractured jaw to Kurt Tippett and a hamstring injury to Rising Star Callum Mills is not desirable. A large Steve Johnson bump on Swan Josh Kennedy also left the star groggy. It’s possible that Kennedy hasn’t fully recovered.
But depth has been an advantage for Sydney all year. They will undoubtedly have any number of players who could come in and play the role they need.
So let’s look at the other, admittedly less important, factors. Take the venue for example.
The Crows boast a significant record at the ground- at first glance. Overall, they have won 11 matches from 17 attempts. In their last five matches at the SCG, Adelaide has won on four occasions.
But while that second statistic is extraordinary, especially considering their competition, it is important to take note that only two of those matches have been in the last eight years.
Continuing with records, and finals do boast a slightly more favourable score for the Crows. Adelaide have won two of their last four semis, while the Swans have bowed out in four of the last five.
But history can be changed. This finals series is proof enough.
After all, the Dogs were effectively given no chance to win last week. Yet they dominated the Eagles in a hostile away-final.
And then there’s Greater Western Sydney. They are effectively writing their own history after booking their way to a prelim final.
So yes, the Swans are favourites. Any team with such strong, finals experience, and talent in the likes of Lance Franklin and Dan Hannebery, has every right to be.
But the Crows finished the season only a game behind the Swans for a reason. And their elimination final win helped them gain back some lost form.
So the Crows are far from ‘unbackable’. If they bring their best, and if Eddie Betts can replicate his form of last week, then you can count the Crows as prelim certainties.
(First published on The Roar on September 16th 2016)