A loss of key players saw the 2019 Premiers falter in the face of more experienced sides in the 2020 season. It remains to be seen whether the Crows will benefit from this year as a learning experience, or whether the short season signalled the waning of their older players' careers.
2019 finish: Premiers
2020 finish: 6th (Conference A)
In a Nutshell
Adelaide’s 2020 woes started at its euphoric peak during its 2019 premiership victory over Carlton when the Crows lost champion Erin Phillips and young gun Chloe Scheer to ACL injuries. Worse was to come as stalwart defender Chelsea Randall was ruled out for the season in late November. Towards the end of pre-season, Courtney Cramey and Deni Varnhagen joined the injury list and Ruth Wallace announced she would be unavailable in 2020 for personal reasons.
Initially, it seemed that the Crows had managed to cover such a disastrous run of luck. Adelaide prevailed over St Kilda and Geelong with Danielle Ponter (four goals against the Cats) starring up forward and first-year player Najwa Allen seizing her chance in the backline. Phillips took the gamble of returning for the must-win Round 4 clash with Carlton, but the Crows were overrun and the superstar was weakened by the early comeback.
During that week, Eloise Jones and Jess Foley were also ruled out so that on the windswept Hobart Saturday afternoon that they faced North Melbourne, the Roos were able to grind the reigning premiers’ dream of defending their flag into the mud.
The stats that matter for Adelaide’s losses vary. The only consistency was an inexperienced side allowing opponents to dictate the flow of the match.
In Round 1, the Crows’ poor inside 50 efficiency (just 25%) played into the hands of a Brisbane team that used whirlwind rebound as its calling card. Adelaide failed to adjust to the precise, high-possession game of Carlton in Round 4, losing disposals 267 to 175, and was slashed by the run and carry of North Melbourne in Round 5. GWS called the shots in Round 6, starving the Crows of forward entry as the Giants won inside 50s 26-16.
No team can lose Adelaide’s top-end talent and expect to tilt for the top. However, this lost season brings the Crows a year older. Courtney Gum (38), Erin Phillips (34), Courtney Cramey (34), Renee Forth (33), Sophie Li (32), Angela Foley (31), and Marijana Rajcic (31) are in the twilight of their careers.
The midfield of the future is set – Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff were as prolific as any combination in 2020 and both are just 22. Danielle Ponter and Eloise Jones will be earmarked as the tall-small forwards of 2021 and the return of Scheer will bring defenders plenty of headaches next year.