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4:15pm  Dec 14, 2017

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Sam Gibson Presser December 13

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The Five: Round One

Lee Gaskin, AFL Media  March 26, 2017 8:13 PM

Highlights: R1 v GWS The Crows and Giants clash in round one

Crows midfield rises to the occasion
The biggest question mark over the Crows entering this year was around their midfield depth. Even with their general Rory Sloane having a quiet game in his return from a fractured eye socket, the Crows went some way to answering the doubters. Rory Atkins had 19 touches and booted three goals, Charlie Cameron's pace and outside run was critical at stoppages and Wayne Milera, David Mackay, Matt Crouch and Richard Douglas were heavily involved.

Premiership favourites suffer minor hiccup, but no time to panic
A Round One loss against another title contender, in stifling 35-degree heat, isn't the time for Greater Western Sydney fans to jump off the bandwagon. Sure, the Giants will be disappointed not to start off with a win, but it's the reality check they need after some outrageous talk in the media through the off-season. The Giants were beaten in contested possessions (148 to 129), tackles (60 to 49) and inside 50s (65 to 48). Losing Tendai Mzungu to a hamstring injury in the second quarter didn't help, but there is no need to get concerned just yet.

Match Report: Crows v Giants

Hamstrung Walker forces Crows into forward change
The Crows adopted a smaller forward line with captain Taylor Walker a late scratching from the season-opener with a hamstring injury. It was a team effort from the Crows, who had 11 players share in their 21 goals. Electric small forward Eddie Betts played closer to goal and lined up at full-forward. Betts was busy early, kicking the opening goal and was dangerous every time he was near the ball. Mitch McGovern and Josh Jenkins were the targets inside the forward 50.

High draft pick shakes off first-game nerves
Tim Taranto, the No.2 overall selection at the 2016 NAB AFL Draft, had quite the initiation to senior football. With his dad having flown from the US to watch his debut at Adelaide Oval, Taranto had a nervous start when he had a kick intercepted by Crows star Eddie Betts just 30m out in front of goal. Luckily for Taranto, Betts' attempt went wide. Taranto finished with 13 possessions, but will be better for the run and the higher pace and intensity of senior football.


Rory Laird picks up where he left off
We're all guilty of making big calls after Round One, but you can lock in Crows defender Rory Laird to make the final All Australian team this year after making the 40-man squad last season. Laird was absolutely outstanding and the best player on the ground, racking up a career-best 40 possessions across half-back. Laird read the play beautifully and was always there to shut down attacking raids from the Giants. His link play through the midfield is great to watch and he's critical to the Crows' structure.