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The stats files: Prepare for Bloods and thunder

Peter Ryan  August 15, 2017 7:02 AM

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Prepare for Bloods and thunder

ADELAIDE needs to be ready for a Sydney blitzkrieg at the start of Friday night's blockbuster at Adelaide Oval.

The Swans have outscored their opposition by 72 points in the opening 10 minutes of games this season, hitting the scoreboard hard early with 169 points for in the first 10 minutes of games, second only to the fast-starting Essendon.

The Swans blew the Crows away when they last met in a semi-final last season, kicking seven of the first nine goals of the game in the opening 25 minutes to kill the contest.

Lance Franklin celebrates as the Swans storm to victory in last year's semi-final. Picture: AFL Photos

If Adelaide can hold firm, it will make life difficult for the Swans as the Crows have not lost any of the nine games they have led at quarter-time this season.

Both teams have outscored their opponents by 82 points in first quarters this season but the Crows get rolling after the first break, having won 17 of their 20 second quarters and 16 final quarters.

The game should be a classic.

As this ladder from the last four games shows, on form they could meet each other in the Grand Final.

 ON FORM
Pos Club W L D Percentage Points
1 Adelaide 3 0 1 149.5 14
2 Sydney 3 1 0 180.5 12
3 GWS  3 1 0 128.3 12
4 Richmond 3 1 0 126.4 12
5 Hawthorn 3 1 0 118.9 12
6 Western Bulldogs 3 1 0 114.4 12
7 Collingwood 2 1 1 110.2 10
8 West Coast 2 2 0 121.3 8
9 Geelong 2 2 0 103.7 8
10 Melbourne 2 2 0 102.6 8
11 Brisbane Lions 2 2 0 101.6 8
12 Essendon 2 2 0 91.2 8
13 Port Adelaide 2 2 0 77.7 8
14 St Kilda 1 3 0 83.1 4
15 North Melbourne 1 3 0 75.9 4
16 Fremantle 1 3 0 64.5 4
17 Carlton 0 4 0 71.4 0
18 Gold Coast 0 4 0 61.8 0

The Swans have won 12 of their last 14 games as they attempt to become the first team to win the premiership after losing the first six games.

The Crows have never been lower than second spot on the ladder in 2017 and will become the first team to achieve that feat across a season since Collingwood in 2011.

Only 17 teams have managed to be first and second on the ladder all season since 1918 but just seven have won the flag. The 2000 Bombers are the most recent team to win the flag after being first or second all season, the only premier from the four teams to achieve that feat since 1986.

Although the Crows have scored the most and the Swans have conceded the least points, neither gets enough credit for their work the other way.

The Swans are the sixth-best scorers in 2017 while the Crows are in the top four for stopping scores against.

Both teams are strong in the contest and have settled and balanced defences that work well as a unit, capable of changing their game style according to the flow of the game.

The main difference is their scoring method with the Crows leading the AFL in scores from intercepts, with a whopping 66 per cent of their scores coming through that method.

They are last in the AFL at scores from clearances, with just 30 per cent of their scores coming from stoppages whereas the Swans are mid-ranking at both scores from intercepts and scores from stoppages.

The Crows like to hold territory, averaging 6.37 minutes more time inside their forward half than their opposition, whereas the Swans average 2.22 minutes more time inside their half.

The Crows' forward line is the envy of the competition and is averaging 15.4 marks inside 50 this season, the most a team has averaged since Geelong took 15.6 marks a game inside 50 in 2010.

Having superb running defenders is part of each club's DNA while Eddie Betts (45 goals) and Tom Papley (27 goals) are two of the most dangerous small forwards in the game, while Lance Franklin (56 goals) and Taylor Walker (48 goals) are in the top five goalkickers this year.

Both clubs have young stoppers capable of blanketing a dominant opposition midfielder with George Hewett a candidate to play on the Crows' Rory Sloane while Riley Knight is an aggressive stopper if the Crows want to slow down Isaac Heeney or Dan Hannebery.

Adelaide has used just 31 players this season, the least in the AFL but it has introduced four players on debut to keep the wheels turning, as the Swans have done using 35 players and selecting six to debut.

Top of the world

The Crows will become just the third team this century and only the 17th team since World War One to spend every week of the season in first or second spot on the ladder.

But such a run of dominance provides no guarantees of a flag. Only seven teams went on to win the premiership after such a brilliant home and away season.  

 TOP GUNS
Season Club
2017 Adelaide
2011 Collingwood
2000 Essendon*
1998 Western Bulldogs**
1991 West Coast
1985 Essendon*
1982 Richmond
1981 Carlton*
1979 Carlton*
1973 Collingwood
1970 Collingwood
1967 Carlton**
1962 Essendon*
1960 Melbourne*
1953 Geelong
1952 Collingwood**
1933 Richmond
1923 Essendon*

*Won premiership
**Finished season in second place

No Joshing, he could win the Coleman

Just four rounds ago, this column confidently declared that West Coast's Josh Kennedy could not win the Coleman Medal. He was 10 goals behind the leader and returning from significant injury.

It's taken some sort of performance from Kennedy to reel in the leaders, kicking 23 goals in four games. That is the dual Coleman medallist's biggest tally in four consecutive games since his career began, eclipsing his 20 goals between rounds 7 and 10 last season and rounds 2-5 in 2015.

That won't stop supporters reminding this column of the dangers of the early crow, and nor should it. Kennedy is clearly not a player to be written off.

He now sits on 60 goals with two rounds to play, one goal ahead of Essendon's Joe Daniher and four ahead of Franklin.

We're not predicting a winner, but you can:

Back to front

Ben Reid, Cale Hooker and Harry Taylor made their name as All Australian defenders but in round 21 they proved they could play up forward too.

The trio each kicked four goals in impressive performances for their respective clubs, just one below their biggest goal tally in a game.

Hooker (39 goals in 2017) and Taylor (20) have both set new personal bests for goals in a season.

They join Melbourne's Tom McDonald as revelations in attack this season, with McDonald having kicked 23 goals in 2017, smashing his previous best of five goals in a season.

Four-year terms for coaches?

History isn't kind to coaches who take their team through four consecutive seasons without a finals appearance.

Richmond's Terry Wallace and Carlton's Denis Pagan are the only two coaches this century to go into a fifth season without appearing in finals in the previous four.

It's the territory St Kilda's Alan Richardson has moved into after the Saints' finals hopes all but ended against Melbourne on Saturday.

Collingwood's Nathan Buckley will become the first Magpies coach since Jock McHale missed finals between 1940-44 to go beyond four consecutive years without making finals if he is re-appointed.

Read more

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