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Crows backs its defensive structures to stop Jack Riewoldt

Kieron Turner  April 29, 2017 3:03 PM

We’ll play our defensive structure the way we always do and we’ll back in our system.

Adelaide will back their defensive structures to curb star forward Jack Riewoldt’s influence in Sunday’s top of the table clash between the Crows and Richmond at Adelaide Oval.

Riewoldt has booted ten goals in his last two games, including six in wet conditions to lead the Tigers to a comeback win over Melbourne on Anzac Day eve, and looms as a key factor in deciding which team keeps their unbeaten record intact.

All Australian defender Daniel Talia is likely to start the game on the two-time Coleman medallist, but Kyle Hartigan and Jake Lever may also spend time on Riewoldt depending on how high up the field he plays.

“We’ll play our defensive structure the way we always do and we’ll back in our system,” assistant coach David Teague told reporters at Adelaide Oval on Saturday morning. 

“Talia will probably get first crack at him, but the way Kyle Hartigan and Jake Lever have been playing, we’ve got plenty of avenues there to swap over if we need be.”

At the other end of the ground, it will be a contest between the AFL’s highest scoring team and the league’s stingiest defence.

The Crows have been scoring heavily so far in 2017, averaging 133.2 points per game, while the Tigers have conceded just 75.2 points per game on their way to five straight wins.

Bachar Houli, Alex Rance, Brandon Ellis and Reece Conca are all currently ranked in Champion Data’s top 50 defenders and will provide Adelaide’s forward line with arguably their toughest test this season. 

“They’ve been defending really well,” Teague said. 

“We’ve been scoring well but we’re coming up against the number one defence at the moment so that’ll be a great challenge.”

­­While the battles inside the arcs will be intriguing, the game will be won and lost in the midfield, with Sloane, Douglas and the Crouch Brothers going up against Cotchin, Martin, Prestia and Co.

Both sides have talent to burn in their respective engine rooms and will be looking to win the contested ball to provide ample opportunities for their forward lines.

Regardless of whether the game turns into a shootout or a slugfest, Teague is confident in his team’s ability to adapt and find a formula to take home the four premiership points.

“We feel like we can play both. Port Adelaide, Hawthorn, probably wasn’t a shootout as such. It was probably a little bit more down the line, more defensive. We adapted to that,” he said. 

“This week who knows. If it’s changing the lanes, turnover to turnover, we play that way well. If it’s a contest style we play that way well. So we’re confident either way we can find a formula to win.”

Adelaide welcomes back key forward Josh Jenkins to face the Tigers after three weeks on the sidelines, while Daniel Talia proved his fitness by completing every training session throughout the week after suffering hamstring tightness early in the Crows’ Round 5 win over Gold Coast.

“They got through the week, Talia pulled up really well from the game which was a bit of a surprise and Jenkins is (also) ready to go,” Teague said. 

“Once you cross the white line you’ve got to be ready to go and that was probably the reason Josh didn’t play as we wanted to make sure he was ready. He’s got an extra week of conditioning, so we’re really confident with him.”