Adelaide Begins Life Without 'Tex'

Picture: Wayne Ludbey/News Limited
Patrick Dangerfield is one Crow who has to lift this week. Image courtesy of Wayne Ludbey/News Limited
Last Five Meetings

PF, 2012 – Hawthorn Hawks 97 d Adelaide Crows 92 (MCG)
Round 3, 2012 – Hawthorn Hawks 140 d Adelaide Crows 84 (MCG)
Round 1, 2011 – Adelaide Crows 105 d Hawthorn Hawks 85 (AAMI)
Round 12, 2010 – Hawthorn Hawks 124 d Adelaide Crows 77 (Aurora)
Round 20, 2009 – Adelaide Crows 94 d Hawthorn Hawks 67 (MCG)


Form

     Rd 1       Rd 2       Rd 3       Rd 4       Rd 5   
Adelaide   L  W  L  W  L
Hawthorn   L  W  W  W  W

How the mighty have fallen since last September. Adelaide was just a straight kick away from the grand final after a withering final quarter burst brought them to within five points in the preliminary final against Hawthorn . The Crows finished that match with arguably the most feared forward line in the competition, with tall timber Kurt Tippett and Taylor Walker working in tandem inside the arc. The former now resides in Sydney while the latter won’t be seen on the football field again this season with ‘Tex’ set to undergo a knee reconstruction after doing his ACL against Carlton.

The Crows worked hard with a makeshift forward line against the Blues, but little could be said other than they were gallant in the 32-point defeat . Tall Shaun McKernan comes in for Walker while small forward Jason Porplyzia earns a reprieve after he was dropped last weekend.

Hawthorn’s forward line has also suffered a massive blow with livewire Cyril Rioli tearing his hamstring after a five-star performance in the thrilling with over North Melbourne. While nobody in the league could possibly replace Rioli, the Hawks do have small forward options with Paul Puopolo likely to spend more time inside the the arc. Hard nut midfielder Brad Sewell returns from a hamstring injury.


Key Men

(Crows) Josh Jenkins – In the Tatts.com AFL Season Preview it was suggested Josh Jenkins would be an ideal foil for Taylor Walker this season. Well now the lanky 24-year-old is the main man in Adelaide’s forward half. Regardless of how Brenton Sanderson rejigs his game-plan, the former Bomber is now his best marking option inside the forward 50. He was awesome against Brisbane in round 2 finishing with 16 touches and 12 marks, but he hasn’t produced anywhere near those numbers in other matches as he has also been pinch-hitting in the ruck. He has six goals so far in 2013; last season ‘Tex’ Walker managed 63. That’s a lot of scoring to make up, even if the load is going to be spread around.

(Hawks) Grant Birchall – He was an All-Australian last year, and if anything, Grant Birchall is better this season. He lost halfback mate Matt Suckling to a season-ending knee injury in the NAB Cup, and the 25-year-old has stepped up significantly since then. He started the season as a $501 shot in the Brownlow , but after his 37 touches and 12 marks against Fremantle in round 4 he was amongst the favourites at $13. Birchall was quieter against North Melbourne, but his wonderful left foot has launched many a Hawk attack over the past couple of seasons and Adelaide’s forwards will need to stop his rebound from the back half.


Prediction

Despite Hawthorn being one of the league’s dominant forces over the past few seasons, Adelaide has matched up pretty well winning three of their last six contests. Last week’s loss to the Blues means the Crows have left the MCG empty handed on seven of their last eight visits. Hawthorn won 12 of its 16 games at the ‘G last year and the team’s ability to move the ball cleanly on the ground’s wide expanses will be difficult for Adelaide to counter. Some of Adelaide’s lesser lights like Richard Douglas have stepped up with the club’s big guns not firing on all cylinders, but it’s really time for the Crows’ midfield to stamp its authority on a game, and what better stage to do it on? Hawks by 18 points

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