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QF Preview: Crows v Giants

Lee Gaskin, AFL Media  September 4, 2017 1:17 PM

AFL 2017 Round 01 - Adelaide v GWS Giants

Josh Jenkins celebrates a goal during Adelaide's 56-point with over Greater Western Sydney in Round One

SUMMARY
A home preliminary final is up for grabs when the Crows host the Giants to kick off the 2017 finals series. The Crows claimed the minor premiership for the second time in the club's history, but enter the finals having lost their last two regular season games to Sydney and West Coast. It also hasn't been a smooth road for the Giants, who slipped to fourth on the ladder after a 44-point loss to Geelong at Simonds Stadium in round 23. The week off has given both sides the opportunity to fine-tune their preparation heading into this massive encounter.

WHERE AND WHEN: Adelaide Oval, Thursday, September 7, 7.20pm ACST
TV AND RADIO: Click here for the AFL's broadcast guide

WHAT HAPPENED THIS YEAR?
Round one: Adelaide 22.15 (147) d Greater Western Sydney 14.7 (91) at Adelaide Oval

The Giants led by 14 points at quarter-time before the Crows went into overdrive, booting 20 goals to 10 and running away with the season opener. All Australian defender Rory Laird racked up a game-high 40 possessions for the Crows across half-back, while Eddie Betts booted four goals.

LAST FIVE TIMES
R1, 2017, Adelaide Crows 22.15 (147) d GWS Giants 14.7 (91) at Adelaide Oval
R10, 2016, Adelaide Crows 15.17 (107) d GWS Giants 13.7 (85) at Adelaide Oval
R8, 2015, GWS Giants 16.12 (108) d Adelaide Crows 12.12 (84) at Spotless Stadium
R16, 2014, Adelaide Crows 20.20 (140) d GWS Giants 9.18 (72) at Spotless Stadium
R5, 2014, Adelaide Crows 21.11 (137) d GWS Giants 10.12 (72) at Adelaide Oval

WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Adelaide
1. Slow starts have been a big issue for the Crows this season. They'll be keen to burst out of the blocks and ensure the 50,000-strong crowd gets into the game early.

2. Key defender Kyle Hartigan should get first crack at Giants big man Jonathon Patton. In his first game in a month, Hartigan was outstanding in keeping West Coast spearhead Josh Kennedy to one goal in round 23.

3. The Crows rarely use a tagger, but Riley Knight has been effective in that role when given it this year. He could be called upon if one of the Giants' star midfielders gets plenty of the ball early. 

Greater Western Sydney
1. Giants ruckman Shane Mumford needs to at least break even with Sam Jacobs to give his side a chance. Jacobs led the League in hit-outs this season and gives his midfielders great service.

2. The Giants may need to look at putting a defensive forward on Rory Laird or Brodie Smith, who create a lot of the Crows' attack from half-back. It's a job perfect for Matt de Boer

3. Zac Williams provides plenty of offence for the Giants across the backline, but he might also get a defensive stopping role on Crows superstar Eddie Betts.

Pathway-to-the-Grand-Final_week22.jpg

THE SIX POINTS
1. The Crows are the best attacking side in the competition, averaging a League-high 109 points per game. They are also the No.1 ranked team for marks inside 50 and second for inside 50s.

2. It's been all one-way traffic between the Crows and Giants. The Crows have a clear advantage in their eight previous meetings, with a 7-1 win-loss record. Five of those games have been decided by more than 50 points.

3. The Giants are the leading clearance team in the competition averaging 42.3 per game. They were also the second-best in centre clearances with 13.7 per game.

4. The Crows have been tough to beat at Adelaide Oval this year, winning nine of their 12 games. In contrast, the Giants have won four, lost five and drew one of their interstate games this year.

5. When it comes to finals experience, the edge goes with the Giants. They have a combined 135 games compared to 130 for the Crows. Adelaide is attempting to win its first qualifying final since 2006.

6. Crows midfielder Matt Crouch has rocketed up the Schick AFL Player Ratings this season. The first-time All Australian, who had the second-most possessions in the League with 33 per game, has improved 96 places – from 134th to 38th.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY
Don Pyke: "Looking at this year compared to last year, I think this year's preparation has been ideal. We've played high-quality teams, we've had some big Friday night games, so we've clearly progressed and we're aware of the level required. The intensity in the finals goes up another level because you've got the best teams over the course of the year playing for a genuine prize."

Leon Cameron: "Having the 12 days leading into the game, you do a lot of research on the opposition, and no doubt they'll be doing a lot of research on us. Everyone talks about their front half and their ability to score, but what I'm really interested in is they are a contested ball machine all over the ground. They've done an extraordinary job in doing that." 

IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR … Jeremy Cameron
The Giants will be hoping for another big finals performance from their key forward. Cameron was sensational in last year's qualifying final victory against Sydney. He's been troubled by hamstring injuries this year, but kicked three goals against Geelong in round 23. He'll need another strong performance to help the Giants overcome the highest-scoring side in the competition. 

AFL MEDIA PREDICTION: Adelaide by 15 points