Well after what seems to be a long time coming the NAB Cup Grand Final is actually here. The NAB Cup has been battered from pillar to post over the last 4 weeks, but for the 2 teams competing this week, Adelaide Crows and St Kilda it is game on as both teams go head to head for the title of NAB Cup Winners, or as Aker would say â€œMickey Mouse Winnersâ€.
Both teams have been in good form during the opening rounds of the 2008 NAB Cup with Adelaide probably Andrew McLeodbeing the standouts for me. Neil Craig has given the players a new lease on life with a new and exciting game style which now shyâ€™s away from the defensive style we have seen over the years. The Crows are now running and carrying the footy and with the likes of James Porplyzia and Scott Thompson killing em in the midfield there are great signs ahead for the Crows. The Saints on the other hand, while still winning have probably been a bit scratchy from their lofty standards and havenâ€™t had their best team on the park yet and still wonâ€™t this week. It is pretty ominous for other sides that the Saints are still winning while there is a lot of improvement to come.
As I mentioned above the Crows midfield has been outstanding even with McLeod, Goodwin, Edwards not spending as much time in their as they have in previous years. Porplyzia, Thompson, Knights, Van Berlo, and Symes will be the key in the middle this week as Neil Craig has indicated that the 3 guns will play down forward again. The Crows are up and running early and are the form side of the NAB Cup in my eyes and are going to be hard to beat. Add to that they home ground advantage and the fact that they had a 2 hour training session in 35 degree heat on Wednesday, which they think will give them an edge over the Saints given the fact that it will be hot on the Weekend in South Australia.
Even though coach Ross Lyons is playing down the NAB Cupâ€™s importance you can bet you bottom dollar the players will be out to win this one. Nick Riewoldt will be better for the run last week. He showed some glimpses of his best last week but just lacked that bit of touch and look for him to be better this week. Some youngsters that have Robert Harvery and Nick Riewoldtreally put their hands up for the Saints have been David Armitage (won the game last week), Clinton Jones who is quick and knows how to get the footy, and Jarryn Geary who looks set to come back in this week. As do big man Justin Koschitzke, and defender Sam Fisher. As Leigh Montagna correctly pointed out â€œAs players it doesnâ€™t matter what type of game the players are playing in you always want to win,â€ So there is no doubt they players will be out there to win.
As much as it pains me to say this being a Victorian, I have been very impressed with the Crows during the 2008 NAB Cup and are ahead of most others in terms of their preparation at this point in time. With Reiwoldt still a bit underdone and the form of the Adelaide midfield I am going to back the Crows to win the 2008 AFL NAB Cup by 21 points in an exciting, fast and free flowing game.