The Adelaide Crows have undoubtedly been the most consistent and outstanding team of this year’s Premiership. But, as finals fever starts to take its grip on AFL fans around Australia and the world, we have to ask, are they still the favourites to win the flag?
There is no question that this is a team that has dominated the entire year with their fast flowing and tactical footy, which left most sides scratching their heads and wondering what hit them. They have set the benchmark for where other sides need to be if they want to compete for the flag, and nobody can deny that Don Pyke’s men absolutely deserved to be the most feared team in the competition.
The Crows came out with all guns blazing from round 1 and showed what their intentions were for the year. They started off by smashing preseason favourites the GWS Giants by 147 points to 91, launching themselves to the top of the table with a massive percentage of 161.
There they stayed, perched on top of the ladder, until a brief two week period after rounds fourteen and fifteen when the Crows briefly slipped down to second. It wasn’t long though before they reclaimed their place back on top after their round sixteen clash with the Western Bulldogs, in which they overcame the Doggies by 104 points to 45.
From there, they remained as the league leaders until eventually finishing the season as the Minor Premiers. However, the last two games of the normal season are where some Crows fans may have started to doubt whether their team really was this unstoppable machine that already has one hand on the trophy.
In round 22, they came up against the high-flying Swans at the Adelaide Oval. Everyone associated with the club was eager for revenge after Sydney ended their Premiership dream with a semi-final battering at the SCG. Unfortunately for Adelaide supporters, it wasn’t to be and the Swans came away with a gritty 83-80 victory.
For their last match of the normal season, they headed to Western Australia to take on the West Coast Eagles in what was a must win game for the Perth side. The Crows were looking to build some positive momentum before finals footy but things didn’t quite go as planned and they suffered a 29 point defeat. It was, however, a fantastic result for the Eagles and they secured the eighth and last place for the finals.
With Sydney in impressive form and having defeated the Crows at Adelaide Oval so recently, the question has to be asked, are the Crows still the team to beat? Bookies still think they can get the job done, having them as favourites at 3.50, but Sydney are creeping up now at 5.00, followed closely by GWS at 5.50. Punters would surely start to be worried about investing in them after their recent displays and may be looking to some of the free bets Australia has to offer so they can rest a little easier this September.
The Richmond Tigers and the Geelong Cats are also just waiting to pounce with the two teams having arguably the two best players in the league in Dustin Martin and Patrick Dangerfield respectively. If these guys can get their team firing out of the gate, they can take down just about any opposition on their day.
The Crows have a lot to prove now and it will come down to the commitment and mental strength of the team. Will they pick themselves up and regain the spark that has made them the most exciting side to watch all year? Half of Adelaide sure hopes so and they’ll be there to cheer their side towards a third AFL flag if they do.