Adelaide enjoyed its first hit-out ahead of 2024 with an internal trial at Centenary Oval, Port Lincoln, on Friday afternoon.

The match was played across four, 25-minute quarters with 18 players on the ‘yellow team’ and 18 on the ‘blue team’.

Players were switched between the two squads at different periods of the game and scores were changed with the teams.

Here are the five takeaways from the internal trial.

Dawson leads from the front

Adelaide Skipper Jordan Dawson owned the midfield with his clean hands around the stoppage and booming left foot. 

The Crows No. 12 was composed with the ball, while his strong decision making and pin-point passing was on show during the internal trial.

His ability to read the centre ruck contest, then move the ball forward with accuracy proved the difference for the Blue team.

Crows Assistant Coach Nathan van Berlo told AFC Media the 2023 All Australian showed plenty of strong signs.

“Daws started this year where he left off, which was really pleasing to see,” van Berlo said.

“His ability to drive the ball into our forward half was really strong today.

“He’s an elite performer and a strong leader  and he’s had a really strong pre-season.”

Thilthorpe impresses

Forward Riley Thilthorpe’s contested work was on show during the match, especially in the first-half. Thilthorpe made his mark in the forward line, demanding the ball with strong leads and taking plenty of contested marks. The 21-year-old’s presence around the ground was felt and he also spent some time in the ruck, before finishing the game as equal top goal kicker with three goals.

Van Berlo said Thilthorpe had worked hard over the summer to ensure he could be a consistent performer this coming season.

“Riley is another one who has had an outstanding pre-season and it’s no surprise when guys have had continuity and strong summers that they set themselves up to perform really well,” van Berlo said.

“He’s certainly done that, in the last couple of weeks in particular in our match play and today he showed that when he gets a chance to jump at the footy ahead of the ball and follow up and compete in the midfield, he’s certainly a very talented player for us.

“There’s some really pleasing signs for him.”

Transition and two-way running a focus

A focus of Adelaide’s internal trial was hard, two-way running and transition footy.

When their opposition had possession, players were running hard to pressure the ball handler and force mistakes. When a mistake was forced, the running back into position was strong and the ball movement quick and slick.

“It’s probably something every team wants to be really strong at - to work hard both ways,” van Berlo said.

“It’s been a challenge for our group since I came back a few years ago and it’s one of Nicksy’s big things that he wants in the game and it’s certainly something we’ve worked on for a number of years now.

“It’s pleasing to see that’s coming through in the way we are playing and ow our challenge is to replicate that against an opposition moving forward and that starts with Port next week.”

Adelaide’s depth on show

Adelaide’s coaching cohort was not only able to get a look at how its game plan would work in various pressure-like scenarios, but it also made positional changes and team swaps to help get a gauge on the Club’s depth.

“We saw some good signs from a lot of our young guys and our senior guys as well,” van Berlo said.

“We threw a lot of magnets around today with guys in different guernseys and playing different roles.

“Hopefully what we will see over the coming weeks is that we’ve got a strong team but beneath that team there’s a lot of players who are more than capable of playing roles and playing them really well.

“It’s going to hopefully hold us in good stead with competition for spots, we are going to be challenged at different spots during the year and we are going to need everyone, so our depth is going to be really important and I thought our fans would’ve seen a bit of that today.”

Crows report clean bill of health

Adelaide recorded a clean bill of health after the internal trial, with no injuries reported.

Those who did not play in the match included Harry Schoenberg (Achilles) and Nick Murray (knee) who are progressing in their recovery from surgery last season, Jordon Butts and Wayne Milera (hamstring), Rory Sloane (eye) and Jake Soligo (ankle).

Darcy Fogarty was also rested to help manage quad soreness, while Rory Laird missed due to a wedding.

Despite the outs, no new injuries came out of the internal trial, pleasing the coaches.

“We got to put on a bit of a show for our fans in Port Lincoln and everyone got through unscathed, so it’s a really strong start to our pre-season,” van Berlo said.

“It’s always a challenging one, internals, it’s great to be playing footy, but you don’t want it to come at a cost where there’s injuries before the season starts.

“It was really pleasing that we saw some guys in great form, we were able to see some things we are working on and the group got through unscathed.

“Hopefully it sets us up for a couple of strong games heading into Round One.”

Adelaide’s pre-season continues with a Match Simulation against Port Adelaide at Alberton Oval next Friday afternoon.


*Scores were reset at the start of each quarter as teams changed.

Blue 6.2 (38)
Yellow 2.1 (13)

Blue 8.7 (55)
Yellow 1.0 (6)

Blue 2.5 (17)
Yellow 2.4 (16)

Blue 3.2 (20)
Yellow 1.1 (7)


Walker 3, Thilthorpe 3, Pedlar 2, Rachele 2, Rankine 2, Sholl 2, Gollant 2, Cook 2, Murphy, McHenry, Jones, Keays, T Murray, O’Brien, Strachan.