Jobe Watson has had a torrid time during the ASADA investigation. Image courtesy of Herald Sun/Michael Klein
Last 5 Meetings
Round 19, 2012 – Adelaide Crows 104 d Essendon Bombers 100 at AAMI Stadium
Round 17, 2011 – Essendon Bombers 84 d Adelaide Crows 73 at AAMI Stadium
Round 14, 2010 – Adelaide Crows 124 d Essendon Bombers 40 at AAMI Stadium
Elimination Final, 2009 - Adelaide Crows 166 d Essendon Bombers 70 at AAMI Stadium
Round 11, 2009 – Adelaide Crows 130 d Essendon Bombers 114 at Etihad Stadium
Some six weeks ago, James Hird sat at a press conference at AFL House looking a shattered man after his club, Essendon , had informed the league it has concerns with substances provided to Bombers players in 2012. Australia’s sporting landscape has changed immeasurably since then, with ASADA launching a wide-ranging investigation. Paul Gallen, captain of the NRL’s Cronulla Sharks, the other team under the most scrutiny, said the easiest thing for him and the rest of the players was getting out on the park and playing footy. The Sharks won their opening match of the season and now Hird’s men have the chance to show the same resolute attitude when they take on Adelaide in the AFL season opener on Friday night.
The Crows had their own massive controversy to deal with during the off-season. Not only did it lose big man Kurt Tippett to Sydney in a drawn out saga also involving Brisbane and the Gold Coast, but it was slapped with a massive fine and draft penalties for salary cap breaches involving their prize asset. It left a dark cloud hanging over what was an incredibly positive 2012 season where Brenton Sanderson came and shook up Adelaide’s game plan, turning them in to the hardest team at the ball in the competition. Despite perceptions of a soft draw, the Crows had the best record of any team against fellow top 12 sides, and they pushed Hawthorn to the limit in an incredible final quarter in the preliminary final.
(Adelaide) Taylor Walker overtook Tippett as Adelaide’s No. 1 forward option last season. Even with a three-week suspension, ‘Tex’ nailed 63 goals for the season, almost double his previous best. The mecurial forward is a thumping kick and strong overhead mark, and after his performances in last year’s finals, has gained a reputation of turning up in the big games. It will be interesting to see how Josh Jenkins handles Tippett’s role from last season alongside Walker.
(Essendon) Jobe Watson has admitted the drug scandal has taken its toll and as Bombers captain and the reigning Brownlow Medallist, he has probably felt it more than most. Much maligned at the start of his career for a lack of athleticism, among other things, Watson’s clearance work is now second-to-none in the AFL. Sam Jacobs allowed the likes of Scott Thompson and Patrick Dangerfield to get their hands on the ball first last season, but Watson’s work could nullify the advantage they normally get, and inspire his team in a match where they shouldn’t need any further motivation.
In the last home and away season, only one side – Collingwood – left AAMI Stadium with the points after taking on the Crows. Remarkably, the last time four times these teams have met the matches have been played in Adelaide, with the Crows losing just once, during their annus horribilis
in 2011. In fact, the Crows have won six of the teams’ last seven contests. Adelaide started the NAB Cup slowly, as did Taylor Walker, but he came to life with five goals in a high-quality three-point win over NAB Cup runner-up Carlton in Week 3. Getting Brendon Goddard over to Windy Hill is a big plus for Essendon, but at home, the Crows appear to have too many weapons for the ‘Dons to hold them out over four quarters of footy. Adelaide by 23
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