Adelaide v GWS: Who is closer to a flag?

So far this season, the only thing separating these two sides is 6%. Otherwise, they are both sitting on five wins, and are looking at have laid a solid foundation for a finals assault as we quickly approach the bye rounds. Adelaide, led by new coach Phil Walsh, seems to have regained the intensity that was their Hallmark in 2012 before two years in footballing-limbo. GWS on the other hand are this year’s biggest improvers, playing with a balance of grittiness and silk which is the product of hardened veterans and unbridled young talent. While the Crows have shown in recent history that they can compete with the best, it is the Giants who may reign over the league in the near future.

This may come as an uncomfortable truth to the residents of West Lakes, as this significantly younger team may leave Adelaide in their wake. Unfortunately, this weekend’s fixture at Spotless Stadium may only generate bragging rights for one more season for those dubbed the “Pride of South Australia”.

This may seem like an unfair assessment, but it is improbable that Adelaide will reach the Holy Grail of Australian sport before the Giants. People look at Adelaide on paper and see a midfield that boasts the likes of Dangerfield, Sloane, and Thompson. Taylor Walker and Eddie Betts provide a strong attacking combination. They also have All-Australian defenders in Brodie Smith and Daniel Talia. Sam Jacobs has bragging rights as one of the premier ruck men in the league, while young guns such as Brad Crouch, Cameron Ellis-Yeoman, and Jake Lever all look to have a bright future. However, this may not be enough to get them over the line this Saturday, let alone see them contest for a premiership before the Giants.

Adelaide’s list has a few glaring deficiencies. The most notable issue is that they lack a legitimate second key position defender. This role has been shared by the likes of Kyle Hartigan, Ricky Henderson, Kyle Cheney, the recently retired Ben Rutten, and new comer Jake Lever. This has already proved to be an issue this year. Jake Stringer kicked six on Hartigan to deliver the Crows first loss of the season, while a week later Ryder and Westoff put five on the board between them. Similar results could occur against a forward line comprising of Jeremy Cameron, Cameron McCarthy, and James Stewart. Unless another key backman is found within the next year or two, it is unlikely that this mixture could stop the tall forwards boasted by Hawthorn and Sydney.

The other main factor which could jeopardize the Crow’s medium-term prospects of success are the potential losses in the midfield. While whispers emerged today that Rory Sloane wants to sign on for the long term, the same cannot be said for Patrick Dangerfield. This, coupled with the impending retirement of Scott Thompson in the next year or two, could close Adelaide’s premiership window faster than the absence of a second key back ever could. When compared to the likes of Jeremy Cameron, Devon Smith and Josh Kelly who have all shown faith by re-signing, as well as recent indications that Dylan Shiel and Adam Treloar will soon follow suit, it is becoming harder to see this group having the same level of talent leave the club in quick succession. The byproduct of this is that the Giants will be able to continue their steady build without clubs raiding them to the extent which was previously suggested.  If it was not absurd enough that their talent runs so deep that two former number one draft picks (Tom Scully and Lachie Whitfield) are their sixth and seventh midfielders, it is even more ridiculous that they may be able to retain the heavy majority of their star talent.

Adelaide may be able to secure the chocolates this weekend over a Giants team which is still very young. However, the GWS have shown tremendous maturity this season by beating an undermanned Hawthorn and accounting for bottom sides like Saint Kilda and Carlton with ease. There are all the hallmarks of a team which may be coming of age on the way to a maiden finals birth. If the Crows cannot beat them this weekend, then it would be truly symbolic of the fact that the Giants have passed them in both the short and long term.


  1. Dave Brown says

    Thanks Fooz. The only way any team will be able to compete with GWS in a couple of years is if salary cap pressure forces them to part with more of the bounty the AFL has dropped in their lap (combined with their cannier than Gold Coast list management). Adelaide will remain competitive for at least the next five years for the reasons you have outlined with or without Dangerfield.

    But comparing a club whose highest draft pick (not traded away) in the last 4 years is 14 to a club that has had 22 picks better or equal to that in the same period. GWS’s prospects should be astronomically greater.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Fooz realistically GWS are a lot closer to flag than the majority of the competition
    Freo,Hawks,Sydney and may be Port,North Melbourne and at a pinch West Zcoast are probably in front of GWS the rest are a long way behind the Giants they are coming

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