It’s a bit of a cliché to rely on this early in the footballing year, but we’ve started to run out of superlatives to describe the dominance of the Crows’ all-conquering forward line. Last week, against a formidable Giants side, the Crows struggled for a quarter or so before flicking the switch to ultimate destruction.
In isolation, the performance wasn’t perhaps even the most spectacular attacking performance of the round, as Geelong’s destruction of Fremantle and Brisbane’s win over Gold Coast rate higher according to our data. However, when taking into consideration the strengths of the defences they were playing (with strength determined by their demonstrated ability last year according the HPN Defence Score), Adelaide stands alone at the head of the pack:
Adelaide not only put in a stellar round one performance up forward; but they did so against the second best defence from last year (GWS) who were basically unchanged from last year. Even without the presence of Taylor Walker, the Giants couldn’t stop Adelaide’s varied paths to goal, with Betts, McGovern, Jenkins, Lynch and co. finding seemingly endless ways to score. The rest of the competition should be very scared.
Elsewhere, Collingwood performed well against an extremely strong Bulldogs midfield last week – which was almost certain to regress to the mean in round two and eventually did last night. Even considering last night’s performance, it appears that Collingwood has significantly improved their ability to win territory and create scoring opportunities, with only their forward line letting them down now.
On the defensive side of the ball, Brisbane put in a heroic performance in denying the Gold Coast ability to score, and looked like a different team than the rabble that was the Lions’ back six in 2016. It’s highly unlikely that they will be able to keep this up in round two (let alone for the next 22 weeks), but signs of improvement are definitely there. Port Adelaide also showed definite signs of improvement on the defensive side of the ground, which might be more sustainable given their undeniable talent in the backline.
What this tells us
The adjusted ratings above are inherently noisy, and probably be mostly off the mark compared to when the season is done. However, they do tell us who performed above pre-existing expectations in round one, and who was slightly disappointing – and in what parts of the ground they were so.
For example, whilst they lost to Geelong, the performance by Fremantle last week was much better than most expected, especially when considering the strength of the Geelong side (especially in the midfield). And the win by the Bulldogs was probably below their performance last season.