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Contested Crows set for big stage

Max Phillips  April 18, 2016 4:12 PM

AFL 2015 Second Semi Final - Hawthorn v Adelaide

Rory Sloane expects another physical battle with Hawthorn on Friday night

Challenges don’t get much bigger on the ‘G. This will certainly be a big game for us.

Rory Sloane believes Adelaide’s stirring win over the Sydney Swans will hold the Club in good stead for Friday night’s blockbuster against reigning premiers Hawthorn.

The Crows edged out a dogged Swans outfit by 10 points at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night in arguably the match of the year so far.

Both sides refused to take a backwards step in what was a physical battle that featured 13 lead changes and over 60 scoring shots between the two teams.

Adelaide faces an even taller task on Friday night when the Crows and Hawks kick off ANZAC Round at the MCG. The Crows were completely outplayed by Hawthorn in last year’s Semi-Final at the same venue, falling by 74 points to the eventual premiers.

Sloane said the Crows had learnt many tough lessons from that night and were ready to resume hostilities with the battle-hardened Hawks.

“It’s a new year. We’ve got a new coach, new structures,” Sloane said.

“We’re certainly feeling up and about. We’re going to go down to Melbourne and try and carry some good form into that game.”

Crows growing in confidence says Sloane

The 2013 Club Champion said Adelaide’s important win over the Swans was proof the Crows can match it with the best in the competition.

“We’ve had a few good tests (and) Sydney was definitely a real solid one on the weekend,” he said.

“Sydney are a really strong contested ball team and are really good around the clearances. Hawthorn have been the same and (have been) doing it in the big games as well.

“On big stages, they just get it done. Their defence has been probably what’s set them up over the last few years, and (they’re) reigning premiers as well.

“Challenges don’t get much bigger on the ‘G. This will certainly be a big game for us.”

By the numbers: Round Four

Sloane was ferocious in the clinches in Adelaide’s hard-fought win over the Swans. He had a game-high 19 contested possessions, laid 10 tackles and hauled in two crucial contested marks in what was his best performance of the season so far.

He also played an important part in setting up the sealing goal to Eddie Betts in the final minute of the clash.

“You need guys to stand up in big games and late in games,” Sloane said.

“It felt like one of those games it was so hot and contested. It’s just good to win those close games.

“Not just this weekend, but that’s sort of what finals are based off. The contested ball, clearances, tackles, pressure. It’s important that we play well in those sort of games.

“We’re only four rounds in. We’re sitting 3-1. There’s so much footy left in us and we’ve got so much improvement still to go and we recognise that as well.

“We’ve definitely got a long way to go still.”

Adelaide’s Friday night clash with the Hawks kicks off at 7.50pm local time at the MCG.