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PF Preview: Crows v Cats

Lee Gaskin, AFL Media  September 19, 2017 9:44 AM

Last Time We Met: Geelong R18 Before a huge Preliminary Final at Adelaide Oval, give yourself a reminder of what happened the last time the Cats came to Adelaide
AFL 2017 Round 18 - Adelaide v Geelong

A massive crowd is expected at Adelaide Oval on Friday night

SUMMARY 

The Crows and the Cats square off with a spot in the Grand Final at stake. The Crows have had 15 days to prepare since they cruised past Greater Western Sydney in the first Qualifying Final. A short training camp on the Gold Coast has the minor premiers in good spirits as they aim to punch their ticket to the Grand Final for the first time since winning back to back flags in 1997-98. But before they dream of ending a 19-year premiership drought, the Crows must get past a Cats' side that put the football world on notice with an emphatic 59-point thumping of a red-hot Sydney last week. Brownlow Medallist Patrick Dangerfield – once the hero in the city of churches – will take on the role of villain as he attempts to take the Cats to the last Saturday in September. 

WHERE AND WHEN: Adelaide Oval, Friday, September 22, 7.20pm ACST
TV AND RADIO:  Click here for the AFL's broadcast guide

WHAT HAPPENED THIS YEAR?

Round 11: Geelong 13.18 (96) d Adelaide 10.14 (74) at Simonds Stadium

Cats skipper Joel Selwood was outstanding with 35 possessions, including 21 contested, to lead his side to a comfortable victory over the Crows. It was Geelong’s 10th straight win against Adelaide at Simonds Stadium. 

Round 18: Adelaide 13.13 (91) d Geelong 10.10 (70) at Adelaide Oval

Despite not kicking a goal in the last quarter, the Crows were far too strong for the Cats at Adelaide Oval. Rory Sloane was instrumental in the victory, finishing with 28 possessions and seven tackles in a strong performance, while Harry Taylor booted five second-half goals to keep the Cats in the game. 

LAST FIVE TIMES 

R18, 2017, Adelaide Crows 13.13 (91) d Geelong Cats 10.10 (70) at Adelaide Oval
R11, 2017, Geelong Cats 13.18 (96) d Adelaide Crows 10.14 (74) at Simonds Stadium
R18, 2016, Geelong Cats 12.13 (85) d Adelaide Crows 7.13 (55) at Simonds Stadium
R8, 2016, Geelong Cats 13.20 (98) d Adelaide Crows 11.6 (72) at Adelaide Oval
R23, 2015, Geelong Cats 17.17 (119) d Adelaide Crows 11.14 (80) at Simonds Stadium 

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Adelaide
1. All eyes will be on the Crows at the national anthem to see if they repeat their unique staredown of the opposition. It got the desired result against Greater Western Sydney, but Geelong might have something up its sleeve in response.

2. Whoever replaces attacking half-back flanker Brodie Smith has big boots to fill. David Mackay or Paul Seedsman need to provide plenty of run and carry out of defence.

3.Key defender Kyle Hartigan is expected to stand Brownlow Medallist Patrick Dangerfield if he starts deep in attack. Hartigan has the pace and strength to stay with Dangerfield, however, he could be required on another of the Cats' tall forwards.

Geelong
1. You'd expect Cats star Patrick Dangerfield to start at full-forward after the success he had against Sydney. Dangerfield's almost impossible to beat one-on-one and is a strong mark overhead.

2. Small defender Jed Bews is set to get the job on Crows star Eddie Betts. Bews was outstanding against the Swans, while Betts booted three goals in the qualifying final over the Giants.

3. Scott Selwood will likely get a run-with role, but does he go to Rory Sloane, Matt Crouch or Brad Crouch? All three play critical roles in the Crows' under-rated midfield. 

Pathway-to-the-Grand-Final_flags_GWS.jpg

THE SIX POINTS

1. This is a clash of two of the highest-scoring teams in the competition. The Crows are ranked first with 15.9 goals per game, while the Cats are equal third, with an average of 13.9 goals.

2.The Crows lost five-straight games to the Cats before their round 18 victory at Adelaide Oval. They haven't won two in a row against the Cats since 2002-03. This is just the second time the Crows and Cats have met in the finals. The Crows won their previous encounter in a 1997 Semi-Final by eight points.

3. The Crows are the leading team for marks inside 50 in the League, averaging 14.8 per game. The Cats are ranked equal sixth, with an average of 12.8.

4. Both clubs have struggled in Preliminary Finals. The Cats have lost their last two, in 2013 and last year, and three of their last four since 2010. The Crows have lost five of their seven Preliminary Finals, including four in a row since 2002.

5. Contested marking has been a strength of the Crows, who are second in the League with 12.7 per game. The Cats are fifth, averaging 12.3 per game.

6. Cats superstar Patrick Dangerfield has been ranked the No.1 player in the game since round 12, 2016, according to the Schick AFL Player Ratings. Dangerfield is on 752.3 ratings points – more than 120 clear of Richmond star Dustin Martin. Adelaide's highest-ranked player is Rory Sloane, ranked fourth overall.

WHAT THE COACHES SAY

Don Pyke: "We don't rely on one individual. We've had a number of games where we've had key personnel missing and out. We want to be a side that is strong around the contest, a side that is strong at defending the ball, and when we get the ball, our method of moving it can cause some problems for the opposition."

Chris Scott: "Do we win the centre bounce (against the Crows)? If we do, we'll start him (Patrick Dangerfield) forward, but the hard part is winning the first centre bounce. Firstly, we'll acknowledge how difficult the opposition will be to beat, then hopefully come up with some things that make it hard for them."

IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR … Patrick Dangerfield

The Brownlow Medallist thrives on the big stage, and it doesn't get any bigger than in a Preliminary Final against his former club in front of more than 50,000 Crows supporters. Dangerfield was outstanding playing as a full-forward against Sydney, and will be influential in whatever role he has against the Crows.

AFL MEDIA PREDICTION: Crows by 15 points