Pride of SA meets the Yellow and Black Army
WITH so much focus on Richmond making the grand final, many people are forgetting the reality of what faces the Tigers on Saturday, and that is a team that is destined to win a flag.
Adelaide have been by far the best team of 2017, and I have no doubt they will take home the silverware on the biggest stage of all. They are simply too good.
While they finished top on the ladder thanks to a very healthy percentage, the Crows have continued to dominate teams over the finals series.
Up front between them, Eddie Betts, Taylor Walker and Josh Jenkins have kicked 151 goals over the home and away season, and don't forget it was Charlie Cameron who slotted home five times in the preliminary final demolition. That's four very capable targets to kick to.
The crows have gone into this finals series with all guns blazing, determined to put away the opposition from the first bounce, and nothing proves that more than a stat from the preliminary final.
Adelaide Crows only had three more inside 50s' to Geelong, which just show how efficiently they use the ball when going for goal, as they racked up a ten goal win.
While Richmond have Dustin Martin, new star Daniel Rioli and Jack Reiwoldt, for my money the Crows have too many sharpshooters capable of kicking four or five goals each. Plus Adelaide have Eddie Betts, a man who does the impossible week in week out. He can kick goals from any angle, at any time.
The key to stopping Richmond is shutting down Dustin Martin, a man who is in career best form and can in a split second turn defence into attack. Take his influence out of the game and Richmond will lose momentum fast.
In the back of the minds of every Adelaide player will be the death of their coach Phil Walsh, who was the man that set this team on their path to a flag. Coach Don Pyke is a man who is continuing that vision, and this is their chance to repay that faith. He has already stated that he feels this team can get even better, and it's hard to argue that fact.
Emotion can be a great motivator when you're chasing a premiership, and so far everything has gone to plan for the Crows. Being such a tight-knit team, with a team focus and talent around the ground, they should take the crown.
The last time the two met in April, it was a commanding 76 point spanking at Adelaide Oval.
Don't be surprised if it is game over by half time.
Sorry Richmond, but the flag is heading to South Australia this year.
Prediction: Crows by 30 points.
DAZZA says the Crows were the best team "by far" in 2017, and he would be half-right. They were the best team when playing in Adelaide.
But the Crows are far from infallible away from their Adelaide Oval nest, and at the MCG in particular their performances this season have been less than exemplary.
In three outings at the home of football, the Crows posted a 1-1-1 record in 2017.
A 24-point loss to a struggling Hawthorn outfit was followed by a nail-biting 12-point win over Carlton who, to that point of the season had just five wins to round 15.
In round 19, against a Collingwood side bereft of key players and already out of the finals hunt, the Crows trailed by as many as 50 points before dragging themselves back for a draw.
On the flip side, Richmond can boast the best MCG record of any side in the competition this season.
The Tigers went 11-2 at their home ground, with their two losses totalling just 11 points.
Richmond hold a +292 point differential playing at the MCG, and have won their past six at the venue by an average of 33 points.
The Crows meanwhile are -12 in games at the MCG; a far-cry from their +443 point record in Adelaide.
Much of the talk has been over Adelaide's potent offence, which averaged 109.8 points per game.
But led by All Australian captain Alex Rance, the Tigers can boast the second-best defensive record in the competition, averaging just 76.5 points against.
For all the talk over Adelaide's supposed dominance this season, they finished just two points clear of the Tigers after 23 rounds.
And despite their 8-4 record at home, the Crows were 5-1-4 away from Adelaide Oval. Those numbers are hardly eye-popping.
Yes the Crows spanked the Tigers to the tune of 76 points in round six. But that was in Adelaide, and against a very different Richmond outfit.
Even in that contest, the Tigers hit the gas pedal early and led by as many as 20 points in the first term before being overrun.
If the Tigers get off to a similarly fast start on Saturday, and with the most vocal supporter base in Australian sport behind them, I do not see the Crows arresting that momentum this time around.
Dustin Martin and Rory Sloane loom as the two key players; both act as a barometer for their respective teams.
Martin has proved this season he is nigh-untaggable, and has easily been the best-performed player in the finals series.
However Sloane has struggled this season when tagged, and the Crows look a different side when he is not firing for them.
With Daniel Rioli hitting career-best form at the perfect time, and captain Trent Cotchin in arguably even better form than his Brownlow Medal-winning season of 2012, the Tigers have difference makers where it matters.
The Tigers regularly play in front of big crowds at the MCG; 100,000 fans will not worry them.
We saw with the Giants and the Cats how easy it is to crumble under the gaze of the Tiger army. The Crows may very well do the same. Sorry Adelaide, but the flag is headed home to Punt Road once more after 37 years.
Prediction: Tigers by 13 points.