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Team Selection: Round 18

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The Five: Round 18

Kym Morgan, AFL Media  July 21, 2017 11:21 PM

Team song: Adelaide Watch the Crows celebrate their round 18 win
Richard Douglas booted a career-best four goals in Adelaide's 21-point win over Geelong

Richard Douglas booted a career-best four goals in Adelaide's 21-point win over Geelong

Crows have reason to believe
Mention the word ‘Geelong’ to a Crows fan in the past 18 months and the expression on their face dropped, and it wasn’t just because the Cats took their best player. Geelong has had an ability to slow down and stifle Adelaide like no other side in the Don Pyke era, and many Crows fans were convinced the Cats were their kryptonite. Whether that mental scarring transferred into the walls of West Lakes is uncertain, but Adelaide needed to beat Geelong heading into September if it was to believe. This win not only places the Crows as the red-hot favourite to win the minor premiership, it gives them reason to believe they can win the big dance. Adelaide stunningly fixed its issues transitioning the ball with daring field kicking on the back of manic tackling pressure. It kicked through the Cats’ loose defender, and it will be Geelong which has something to think about if the sides clash in September. The final margin in this one flattered the Cats.

Full match report

Sloane silences doubters
The script for Adelaide could not have worked out better. It beat the side which has caused it issues, and its prime mover Rory Sloane stunningly dismissed 10 weeks of speculation about his form with a best afield effort in the biggest match of 2017. Sloane was every bit as dynamic as he was during the first six weeks of the season and showed no ill-effects of a concussion suffered just six days earlier. He was tested in the second term by Harry Taylor, who laid a crude head-high tackle which caused tempers to flare. Sloane’s two goals to half-time and his work around stoppages were a key to the win. He finished with three goals and inspired his side.

Danger contained as Crows repay debts
No one could blame Chris Scott and his coaching staff for playing their superstar in this clash. Win and a top-two spot was within touching distance. Dangerfield clearly wasn’t fully fit, with the effects of a foot injury suffered six days ago against the Hawks still evident, but the champ was cleared by club medicos and still had more impact than any other Cat. His effort was significant but not super-human. Danger went forward early and kicked a goal but then was starved of opportunity as Adelaide dominated territory. Scott threw the star back into the middle and he played with typical grunt but was under immense pressure from a less sociable Adelaide outfit than on his last trip back to town. On that occasion the Crows were apparently under instruction not to engage Dangerfield. This time Matt Crouch bumped his ex-teammate before the bounce and from that moment on Adelaide made Dangerfield’s night tough with super pressure and tackling which limited his influence.

Pinpoint Crows kick through Cats
Adelaide gave the ball back to the Cats just as many times as in previous encounters between the clubs during the Pyke era. But unlike three earlier Pyke-Scott clashes, when the Crows did turn the ball over it was generally while making a meaningful attempt to break this game open. Geelong controlled previous games by forcing Adelaide to dump kicks out of congestion to a where Cats were waiting in force. Pyke turned the tables this time by instructing his players to raise their eyes and be aggressive by foot. Adelaide’s willingness to take the risky kick inside turned the match on its head and meant the Crows were able to score freely. Suddenly the Cats looked like any other opponent, struggling to get organised and deal with Adelaide’s brilliant forward movement as the ball came in fast and with purpose. Richard Douglas proved an unlikely hero up forward with four goals in one of the performances of his underrated career.

Taylor’s late cameo not enough
The scribes momentarily stopped writing during the final term as a Harry Taylor-inspired Geelong made a charge no one saw coming. Taylor booted the only three goals of the term, as the Cats again showed they’re the best final-quarter team in the AFL. They ran this one out better than the Crows, finding run off half-back they couldn’t produce for the first three terms. Taylor looked dangerous one-out and gave Adelaide a mini-scare, but in reality the final score flattered the Cats. Chris Scott’s men might have been 10 goals down at three-quarter time had Adelaide not squandered chances in the third term and given away some silly free kicks. The coach would have been disappointed his next tier failed to stand up for much of this match. Against a fired-up top side in enemy territory, with its best player less than 100% fit and its next best player tagged, Geelong’s second-rung players needed to lift. Most didn’t and the Cats will need more contributors if it is to win its fourth flag in 11 seasons.