19/04/2024

Riley Thilthorpe and Taylor Walker celebrate a goal. (Photo: Adelaide FC/Twitter)

Speculation has surrounded Adelaide's rebuild in recent weeks, but there is no doubting that it appears to have found the right forward mix.

Much has been made of Adelaide’s season, and in particular, the forward group, but assistant coach James Rahilly says execution is the key for the side to get back on the winners’ list.

Coming into 2022, a lot of uncertainty surrounded Adelaide’s forward line and how the side would set up with a lot of talent in the once weakened attack.

Beginning the season without its most experienced in Taylor Walker due to suspension, Adelaide rotated the likes of Darcy Fogarty, Riley Thilthorpe, Elliott Himmelberg and even Lachlan Gollant as its tall forwards, hoping to find the right mix.

The fix they had in place appeared to be somewhat working, but Adelaide was still heavily relying upon its small forwards, including first-year player Josh Rachele for many of its goals.

Walker would return in Round 4 and partnered with Himmelberg and Gollant for some of the season before both top-end draft picks Thilthorpe (pick two) and Fogarty (pick 12) earned an AFL recall.

Taylor Walker in action against Gold Coast. (Photo: Daniel Cohen)

Speculation continued surrounding how the attack would work with three tall forwards in the side, as well as medium-sized Shane McAdam. The trio was first put to the test in Round 10 against St. Kilda, and after some shaky weeks to begin, the attack is as potent as it has ever been.

Fogarty, in particular, had a tough time re-adjusting to life at AFL level, but has hit a purple patch of form, with 17 goals in his last seven games, including a season-high four against North Melbourne in Round 15.

Darcy Fogarty kicks for goal against Gold Coast in Round 14. (Photo: Daniel Cohen)

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This was on full display in Saturday’s tight loss to Collingwood, with the three key forwards combining for eight goals in tough conditions.

Speaking to the media on Monday, Rahilly highlighted the delivery from the midfield as the key component to attacking success for his side.

“I reckon it’s the way we deliver the ball, the boys have been working hard to create options ahead of the ball, and we probably just let ourselves down with our ability to execute that final kick,” he said.

“The way the boys in the midfield and at half-back delivered the ball gave us every opportunity and made everyone look how dangerous they can be.”

Thilthorpe has also spent more time in the ruck in recent weeks, adding more versatility to Adelaide’s side, which was highlighted by Rahilly.

“He’s an aerobic athlete that just cruises around the ground and really helps us in the ruck,” he continued.

“He’s really clean below his knees, so he really helps us out when he goes in there.

“Even when he’s up forward, he can still move around the ground like he does, and you can see him jumping at the ball and he doesn’t have a big defender on him.”

While many Adelaide fans will want to see Thilthorpe hitting the scoreboard in the future, his aerial presence and ability to cover the ground is a threat which will come in handy for many years.

Adelaide is set to travel to the SCG to take on Sydney at 1:45 pm (AEST) on Saturday afternoon.

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