Wins, losses and even a draw, along with blackouts, comebacks and record scores, Adelaide’s SANFL season had it all.
Cruelled by injuries and inexperience, the SANFL Crows struggled through the first half of the season, but finished the year as arguably the form side of the competition.
Adelaide won eight of its last 11 games to improve its record from the Club’s debut 2014 season in the local league. The Crows notched 17 premiership points and finished in seventh spot on the SANFL ladder, just one win away from a maiden finals berth.
But the true value of the team went deeper than simply a tally of wins and losses.
The Crows introduced 14 players to League football for the first time and fielded 19 development players from local and country clubs around the state.
The improvement of Adelaide’s next flock of young Crows also cannot be underestimated. Jake Kelly, Riley Knight, Jake Lever, and Rory Atkins all earned AFL debuts off the back of strong SANFL form, while several others including Harrison Wigg, Reilly O’Brien and Mitch McGovern compiled promising debut seasons in Crows colours.
Jake Lever's impressive SANFL form early in the season saw him earn an AFL debut
After losses to North Adelaide and West Adelaide in the opening rounds, the Crows looked likely to overrun Glenelg in Round Four for their first win of the season.
Adelaide had fought back gallantly in the wet and wild night match at The Bay, before a power failure in the local area forced officials to call a result with scores locked away midway through the final term.
Incredibly, a faulty light tower at Noarlunga saw Adelaide’s match against South Adelaide the following week also postponed in dramatic fashion. The Panthers took the points in the rescheduled clash, with losses to reigning premiers Norwood and Central District leaving the Crows anchored to ninth spot on the SANFL table.
The Mid-North town of Balaklava hosted Adelaide’s only SANFL home game of the year in Round Seven. All gate takings from the match were donated to the Country Fire Service Foundation and the Adelaide Plains Football League in honour of fallen local fireman Lieutenant Andrew Harrison.
While the day was a success off the field, the Crows couldn’t hold off a fast-finishing Port Adelaide on it, and remained without a win at the halfway mark of the season.
The breakthrough came just one week later against Sturt at Unley, where Adelaide notched its maiden win over the Double Blues. The SANFL Crows kicked 22.8 (140) to record the team’s highest score ever, but this total would be bettered on two other occasions as the Crows began their resurgence up the ladder.
First wins over Port Adelaide, West Adelaide and Norwood followed, and the SANFL Crows quickly became one of the most feared sides in the back half of the year.
The Club’s thrashing of the Roosters in Round 14 showed just how far the team had come since the start of the season. A then record-breaking 101-point victory kept Adelaide, incredibly, in the hunt for a last-gasp finals chance.
The Crows’ dazzling run set the stage for a tantalising clash with League leaders the Eagles in front of a huge crowd at Woodville Oval. A cliffhanger ensued between the two form teams of the competition, but it was the home side that prevailed, with Adelaide’s four-point loss officially ending the Club’s finals hopes.
Eager to finish the year on a high, the Crows showed no mercy with two huge wins to close out the season. James Podsiadly booted 20 goals in two games, as Adelaide demolished Sturt by a record-breaking 107 points before downing Glenelg by 11 goals.
It was a warming sight to see Andy Otten make a successful return from a knee reconstruction in Round 13 against Central District. The tall defender made an understandably nervy start following his 11-month layoff. He failed to find the footy in the opening term, but finished as one of Adelaide’s best in what was a courageous team performance in the Club’s first match since the loss of Phil Walsh.
First SANFL Showdown win over Port Adelaide, Round 11
Podsiadly kicks 11.6 against Glenelg, Round 19
First-year Crow Reilly O’Brien carried Adelaide’s No.1 ruck mantle in the State League all season, dueling against some of the state’s most experienced and respected big men. The rookie’s form saw him twice promoted off the Club’s rookie list, and he finished the year ranked top-five in the SANFL for hit-outs and hit-outs to advantage, as well as top-three at the Club for contested marks, hard-ball gets and tackles.