The drive to a second consecutive premiership was a challenging route, more so than the 1997 success story.
On the back of a slow start, Adelaide didn’t have a positive win-loss record until Round 13 thanks to a nine-point win over Collingwood. Two more wins over Sydney and Hawthorn pushed Adelaide up to third in an incredibly tight section of the ladder with seven games to play. While the Crows won four of its last five games, those losses were costly at the time, leaving Adelaide without a home final.
At the time the McIntyre Finals system was used, meaning Adelaide played fourth-placed Melbourne. The Demons won comfortably by 48-points yet Adelaide survived due to the three teams below them losing in qualifying finals – with the two lowest ranked losers being eliminated. This set-up a challenging trip to the SCG against the Swans. It was a vastly different Crows outfit on field and a 27-point win had them flying into a preliminary final with the Western Bulldogs.
Earlier in the season the Bulldogs had won by 67 points, now that form was reversed completely in a 68-point thrashing by Adelaide. Andrew McLeod booted seven goals and Matthew Robran six.
THE GRAND FINAL
Minor premiers North Melbourne entered the grand final as hot favourites and led by 24 at half-time, however their wayward kicking meant the game was far from over.
Spurred on by another Norm Smith Medal worthy performance from Andrew McLeod, Adelaide hit first gear in the second half to lead by two points heading into the final term.
Adelaide held the Kangaroos goalless in the fourth and with six goals of their own, surged to a 35-point win – and a second premiership – in front of 94, 431 spectators.
Defenders Peter Caven and Ben Hart starred against a talented forward line boasting Wayne Carey, and Mark Bickley and Kane Johnson won plenty of the ball. Darren Jarman’s five goals proved to be the difference.
Adelaide 3.2 4.3 9.11 15.15 (105)
North Melbourne 4.4 6.15 8.15 8.22 (70)
Best: McLeod, Hart, Jarman, Johnson, Rehn, Caven, Bickley
Goals: Jarman 5, Smart 3, Vardy 2, James, Pittman, Johnson, Thiessen, Ricciuto
Mark Ricciuto was a top-five midfielder all season and was rewarded with Adelaide’s Club Champion Award – his first. He was named in his third All-Australian team alongside Norm Smith Medallist Andrew McLeod, ruckman Shaun Rehn and Nigel Smart.
Rehn and Ricciuto finished in the Brownlow Medal top five, with Rehn pipping his teammate by one vote at fourth – 22 to 21. He had five best-on-ground performances to Ricciuto’s six.