The Magpies were hampered by injuries all year but still managed to sneak into the top four. The Crows’ impressive Preliminary Final effort against Hawthorn saw them fall just short of a Grand Final in a season where they weren’t expected to do a whole lot.
Win/loss record: 16–6
Ladder position: 4th (Lost to Sydney in the Second Preliminary Final)
Collingwood’s 2012 season ended the same way it began; in troubled circumstances.
After coming within one game of the 2011 premiership, the Magpies fell a week early in 2012, but had a turbulent season.
Collingwood lost Andrew Krakouer and Brent Macaffer in the pre-season and by Round 3 had lost Ben Reid, Chris Tarrant, Nathan Brown, Darren Jolly and Luke Ball. After being belted by archrival Carlton, every media critic was writing them off.
The Magpies went on a 10-game winning streak, including impressive wins over Adelaide and the previously unbeaten Bombers. They were a fair way off their form of yesteryear, despite notching up enough win to secure another finals berth.
As their season was beginning to look promising, they lost their way losing to Hawthorn and Carlton for the second time and then falling to West Coast and North Melbourne, two sides that hadn’t beaten them in over four years.
Collingwood managed a win over the shot Bombers in the final round to scrape into the top four before making it through to a Preliminary Final, where the Magpies lost to Sydney by 26 points at ANZ Stadium.
The most positive thing for Collingwood was the rapid improvement of Dayne Beams who filled Luke Ball’s missing role with great success. He not only averaged 31 disposals but kicked 26 goals to make the All-Australian team, alongside teammates Dane Swan and Scott Pendlebury.
The biggest talking point of the year was Travis Cloke’s contract negotiations. The key forward booted 59 goals for the year but lacked the impact he has had in previous years, looking distracted at times.
The club mourned the loss of former teammate John McCarthy, who died in Las Vegas less than a week before their Semi-Final with West Coast, and amongst the injuries and various distractions, the club will consider their season a pass without being considered successful.
Looking forward to 2013
Collingwood has one definite loss in the retirement of club stalwart Chris Tarrant. While his loss will be felt, Lachlan Keefe will fill his role after impressing before his season-ending knee injury.
Luke Ball will make his much-needed return and help the Pies around the clinches – something they lacked in 2012.
Travis Cloke and Sharrod Wellingham are the two names touted to be heading elsewhere, while names such as Quinten Lynch, Josh Caddy and even Brendan Fevola have been suggested as potential replacements.
One would expect that top four is beckoning for the Magpies should they improve their defensive pressure and maintain their attacking prowess.
Win/loss record: 17-5
Ladder position: 2nd (Lost to Hawthorn in the First Preliminary Final)
Adelaide exceeded all expectations in 2012, finishing one goal away from a Grand Final berth.
After missing the top eight in 2011 and losing coach Neil Craig, Adelaide were the unproven dark horse in the premiership race. The Crows were always considered talented, and in 2012 they put that potential into results.
Adelaide won eight of their first nine games, only losing to premiership favourites Hawthorn. In that time, they defeated Sydney at the SCG, Carlton at Etihad Stadium and Geelong at home.
A surprise loss to the depleted Magpies at AAMI Stadium after leading at three quarter time brought out the critics before they steadied to be 9-2 after 12 rounds.
Another big loss against North Melbourne in Round 13 had those outside South Australia questioning their credentials once again, but they strung together six of the next seven to all but guarantee a top four spot.
Their worst result came in Round 21 when they lost to Brisbane after leading by over 40 points early in the second quarter. Luckily, they easily accounted for Melbourne and Gold Coast in the final two rounds to secure a top two spot.
Critics questioned whether the Crows had earned the top two spot due to the easier fixture and wouldn’t make the Grand Final. Despite pushing Hawthorn all the way, they ultimately cost themselves a shot at the flag with the home loss to Sydney in the first week.
Adelaide had plenty of positives in 2012 with Patrick Dangerfield and Rory Sloane taking the next step in their careers, while they found a star in Rising Star winner Daniel Talia. Taylor Walker also showed what a dangerous force he could be, while Sam Jacobs, Ben Rutten and Scott Thompson all progressed as expected.
Despite not making the Grand Final after finishing in the top two, Adelaide will be thrilled that they were able to bounce back from what was an extremely disappointing 2011.
Looking forward to 2013
Adelaide has lost Michael Doughty to retirement while huge question marks remain over Kurt Tippett’s future. With circulating rumours pointing to him heading back home to Queensland, the Crows will ultimately be looking for a key forward to replace him.
They are a settled team across the ground and with natural progression, one would expect they will challenge again next year. The big test for the Crows will be if they can stand up in the big games once again because they seemed to falter in the finals, albeit an impressive effort against Hawthorn.
Providing they either keep Tippett or find a suitable replacement, Adelaide should be targeting a top four spot next year and consolidating themselves as a genuine premiership contender.