Sleeting rain and sublime ground skills helped the Indigenous All-Stars thump Adelaide in Darwin.
Adelaide was on a hiding to nothing in this game. With the Indigenous All-Stars usually pumped up for this game in front of an adoring (if sparse) home crowd, and the constant rain meaning that the All-Stars’ major structural weakness – a lack of talls, with Shaun Burgoyne lining up at centre half forward – meant that the All-Stars’ concentration of pace and ground pressure came to bear with predictable results.
Not much can be gleaned from a game like this, but let’s try! First, the injuries. Promising back rookie Greg Gallman has either a dislocation or a break in his collarbone, with results from hospital scans not publicised as yet. Either way he’s probably out of calculations for round 1 given the hot contesting for spots in the Crows backline, and thus he’s out of fantasy calculations too. Patrick Dangerfield left the field early after a clash of heads underneath a pack, though the concussion is not thought to be serious. Andrew McLeod had his nose bloodied late in the game, and Taylor Walker and Trent Hentschel were both held out of the game with quadricep problems.
One thing we can focus on is that this was a battle in the ruck between two Crows, with Ivan Maric comfortably beating Jonathan Griffin to the tune of team totals of 44-14 in the hit outs. Griffin was supported by non-ruckman Warren Benjamin of the Kangaroos, while James Sellar was used as the pinch hitter for the Crows. While we don’t have individual stats as yet, you’d imagine Maric had the lion’s share of those 44 sharing with Sellar, and shapes up as getting the lion’s share of ruck work for Adelaide this year. I’m not sold on him being a great fantasy option as yet, though. On Sellar, it was interesting to see his name mentioned as one of four talls that the Crows will use, sometimes all at once, in their forward line this year in a story in the Adelaide Advertiser by former Crow legend Chris McDermott. If he can add ruck duties to his schedule to allow Kurt Tippett to sit in the square more often, his TOG might not suffer as badly as some other “fourth talls” have done in that structure previously (more on that subject in a future post).
The Crows were playing a lot of kids, but few of them shone. Jarrhan Jacky and Jared Petrenko suffered for TOG, while Aaron Kite, Rory Sloane and Shaun McKernan didn’t impress. Perhaps it’s a bit harsh to judge rebounding half-backs in a game where every forward is a small Cyril Rioli type who can and will chase you down from behind at every opportunity, as Rioli did himself. Kite and Petrenko, in particular, will have some more chances to show they can make the round 1 cut in the absence of Gallman. There may also be another aspect in play here: Crow fans have a tendency to talk their youngsters up to ridiculous levels, even more than at most other clubs. We’ve been hearing a lot about these Crow kids but maybe it’s just that the fans are more vocal than a lot of others, and perhaps we should be looking more closely at rookie backs from less heralded teams, like Levi Greenwood from North Melbourne or Matthew Broadbent from Port Adelaide.
One set play I noticed once or twice from the Crows that I liked was the long kick from defensive hotspot to the wing, where usually it was Nathan Bock on the end of it running two metres ahead of his chasing forward – a play that was prominent in last year’s grand final. Bock looks like a solid back premium, who on current popularity levels would be considered a “unique”. He’ll rack up plenty of +6s doing that this year.
On the All-Stars side, there was little in the way of structure for obvious reasons, so few conclusions can be drawn. Rioli looked all class, and Austin Wonaeamirri showed he can be a mud rat with the best of them. The sharing around of the goals means that none of the forwards, not even Polly Farmer Medal winner Matt Campbell, had their fantasy stocks significantly raised. The best news was the complete lack of injuries! The main thing that I took out of the game is how pace can destroy any AFL side.
How about you, what did you see that you liked or disliked in the Top End? Does this game mean anything at all? How much stock do you put in these highly hyped Crow kids? Tell me in the comments.