Adelaide took on Port Adelaide in an AFL pre-season match simulation at Alberton Oval on Friday night.

The match was played across six terms and teams were changed dramatically during the final two periods, giving the entire squad an opportunity to take to the field.

In what was the sides’ first hit-out against opponents this year, the Crows led early and finished with a Luke Pedlar buzzer-beater goal to end the fourth term tied up the scores.

The hosts then had the better of the final two stanzas, to win 21.12 (138) to 17.14 (138).

Here are the five key takeaways from the game.

Rachele, Rankine and Pedlar midfield/forward split taking shape

It’s been touted this pre-season that the dynamic duo of Izak Rankine and Josh Rachele would be splitting their minutes in 2024 between the forward line and the midfield.

The pair did just that in the match simulation against Port Adelaide on Friday night and both showed flashes of brilliance at both lines.

Fellow forward Luke Pedlar also spent time at the centre clearances and was influential.

While in the forward line, Rankine booted a brilliant goal from the boundary line in the first period, while Rachele’s soccer skills were on show, kicking a major off the ground during the second term.

When in the middle, Rankine and Rachele’s slick ball movement proved the difference at the clearances for the Crows.

Rankine and Rachele finished with two goals apiece, while Pedlar kicked one.

Crows Assistant Coach Scott Burns said having flexibility through the midfield would be a strength of the Crows this year.

“The three have been doing this a fair bit throughout the pre-season, spending a fair bit of time with VB (midfield coach Nathan van Berlo) in his line sessions,” Burns said.

“It’s pleasing that we not only have them there, but have the ability to put some of our midfielders forward at times as well.

Crows midfield showing plenty

Adelaide’s midfield rotations were high, with many players rotating through the centre.

The experience of Matt Crouch on the inside, combined with Captain Jordan Dawson’s outside work and accurate ball movement out of the stoppage helped Adelaide get their noses in front early.

Three-time Club Champion Rory Laird and Sam Berry were also solid on-ball, while Chayce Jones played well on the wing.

“Their performances were pleasing, when you’ve got some more senior players, especially Crouchy and Dawson and CJ (Jones) is definitely getting up there now, you just want them to get through,” Burns said.

“We know that come Round One, they’ll just go to another level, those boys, but it’s pleasing they led from the front all night.

“They worked hard, they put themselves in a really good spot to have a good hit-out next week against West Coast and make sure we are cherry ripe come our first game.”

Burns was also impressed with Reilly O'Brien's work in the ruck and around the ground.

"He's fit at the moment, ROB, he's burning up the track," Burns said.

"He's starting to really clunk his marks again around the ground and there's starting to be a bit of chemistry between the rucks and the mids, so we just need to keep improving.

"We aren't far from being a very, very good stoppage team and clearance team."

Thilthorpe standing tall

Adelaide forward Riley Thilthorpe followed up his strong showing in the Crows’ internal trial with another solid display, this time against Port Adelaide.

A feature of Thilthorpe's game was his strong hands, clunking numerous contested marks, while his ability to create space and a lead inside a congested forward line also proved the difference for Adelaide.

Burns said he wasn’t surprised at Thilthorpe’s form across this pre-season,

“He’s developed over the past 12-18 months,” Burns said.

“We always say the bigger fellas take time, it’s a journey with them.

“He’s been good enough to kick a couple of bags of five at AFL level but he’s more consistent now with the way he’s playing games and the way he’s training.

“He’s starting to get the rewards - we know how good Tex is, we know how good Fog is and at the moment there’s a few headaches for key defenders on opposing teams.”

Rivalry roaring, even in pre-season

It might’ve just been a pre-season game but there was still plenty of heat in the clash between the two cross-town rivals.

Scores were tight throughout the first four terms and players from both sides went hard at every contest.

“It was a really good hit-out from both teams,” Burns said.

“There’s certainly room for improvement (from us) but we were happy with quite a few things.

“It’s pleasing to play against an opposition and start to identify those one or two areas you need to work on.”

Quick focus switch to Eagles

Adelaide has one last pre-season hit-out before kicking off its 2024 AFL campaign, taking on West Coast at Hisense Stadium on Saturday, March 1.

Burns was expecting the Club to pick 23-24 players to take to the field against West Coast, as it fine tuned for the season opener with Gold Coast on March 16,.

“We are really keen to fine tune in the game against West Coast and make sure we get it all right,” Burns said.

“We are certainly looking towards Round One and we are excited for the season.”


ADELAIDE 2.2 (14)

ADELAIDE 5.5 (35)

ADELAIDE 10.6 (66)

ADELAIDE 14.9 (93)

ADELAIDE 15.12 (102)
PORT ADELAIDE 19.11 (125)

ADELAIDE 17.14 (116)
PORT ADELAIDE 21.12 (138)


McHenry 3, Rankine, Fogarty, Thilthorpe, Rachele, Keays 2, Pedlar, Gollant, Edwards, Nankervis.