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AFL Preview: Crows v Cats

GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 02: Rory Laird of the Crows fends off Nakia Cockatoo of the Cats during the 2017 AFL round 11 match between the Geelong Cats and the Adelaide Crows at Simonds Stadium on June 02, 2017 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Rory Laird has been in incredible form for Adelaide this season

What a massive game to kick off Round 18 – a top-of-the-table clash and a possible Grand Final preview. Adelaide Oval will be packed to capacity to see if the Crows can snap a five-game losing streak to the Cats. After looking vulnerable midway through the season, the Crows have won four of their past five games to recapture their sparkling form from earlier in the year. The Crows were ultra-impressive in disposing of fellow top-eight side Melbourne in Darwin last weekend, even after losing stars Rory Sloane (concussion) and Jake Lever (hamstring) late in the game. The Cats are also flying, winning six of their past eight including last weekend's three-point thriller over Hawthorn, with Brownlow Medallist Patrick Dangerfield booting five goals on one leg. Strap yourself in, this is going to be a beauty.

WHERE AND WHEN: Adelaide Oval, Friday, July 21, 7.20pm ACST
TV AND RADIO: Click here for the AFL's broadcast guide

R11, 2017, Geelong 13.18 (96) d Adelaide 10.14 (74) at Simonds Stadium
R18, 2016, Geelong 12.13 (85) d Adelaide 7.13 (55) at Simonds Stadium
R8, 2016, Geelong 13.20 (98) d Adelaide 11.6 (72) at Adelaide Oval
R23, 2015, Geelong 17.17 (119) d Adelaide 11.14 (80) at Simonds Stadium
R1, 2014, Geelong 18.11 (119) d Adelaide 12.9 (81) at Simonds Stadium

1. Cats captain Joel Selwood had 35 disposals, nine clearances and booted one goal in his side's 22-point win over the Crows in Round 11. The Cats had 108 more possessions, took 32 more marks and had 31 scoring shots to 24.

2. It will be a contest between two of the highest scoring teams this season. Adelaide is first, averaging 113 points per game, while Geelong is third with 101 points.

3. Geelong has dominated Adelaide recently, winning the past five matches and six of the last seven. The Crows' last victory over the Cats was in Round 17, 2013.

4. One advantage for the Crows could be marking the ball inside 50. They are first in the competition for marks inside 50, averaging 14.9 per game, well ahead of the Cats in eighth with an average of 12.7.

5. The Crows have flown high at Adelaide Oval this year, winning seven of nine games, with six of those by more than 50 points. However, the Cats have a good record at the venue, winning three of their four games.

6. Crows skipper Taylor Walker is in fantastic form during the past month. Walker has averaged 15.9 ranking points in the Schick AFL Player Ratings from Rounds 14-17, 23rd overall in that period. He was only 112th from Rounds 1-13 with 11.7 ranking points.

IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR… Brodie Smith
The Crows' attacking half-back flanker was held to just 11 possessions in the Round 11 loss to the Cats. The Crows need Smith's drive out of defence to get the ball moving quickly through the midfield and give their forwards the best chance of getting free inside the forward 50.

AFL MEDIA PREDICTION: Geelong by eight points

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs