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A tale of two tags as Crows, Dogs ring changes

Football

Within the big picture of Adelaide's crunch AFL game against the Western Bulldogs is an intriguing scene.

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Can two top-liners from the respective clubs shake a tag?

Star Crow Rory Sloane and top Dog Jason Johannisen enter tonight’s fixture on opposite sides, yet grappling with the same problem.

Both prime movers have been repeatedly subdued by taggers recently.

And both can expect similar hard tags in the Adelaide Oval encounter.

Crows coach Don Pyke usually is reluctant to deploy a tagger.

But he says there have been discussions about tagging Johannisen, who hasn’t cracked the 20-disposal mark in his past four games.

“Certainly we look at it and think there’s an opportunity to take out one of their main rebounding defenders,” Pyke said yesterday.

“And the Bulldogs like to rebound out of the back half pretty quickly whether it be through Johannisen or (captain Bob) Murphy.”

Murphy, though, was last night withdrawn from the Bulldogs’ side with fresh hamstring concerns, with in-form ruckman Tom Campbell also omitted with an abdominal strain and backman Shane Biggs with a calf injury. Forward Tory Dickson was omitted.

In their place come the hardened Tom Liberatore and Matthew Boyd as well as premiership defender Fletcher Roberts and forward Clay Smith.

Pyke said “obviously sides have had success” tagging Johannisen.

“That is something we have a discussion about,” he said.

And Pyke would know.

Crows midfielder Sloane streeted into Brownlow medal favouritism with a dashing start to the season.

But the vice-captain’s output has been dimmed markedly by tight tags. The usually prolific ball-winner has been restricted to under 20 touches in four of his past eight matches.

Sloane’s dip has coincided with a lull from his side, who remain in second spot despite four defeats in eight games.

Two of those losses have come on home turf at the Adelaide Oval.

“Winning at home… is important and those two losses we had here are disappointing,” Pyke said.

“And certainly we want to be creating a real cauldron which makes it difficult for opposing teams to come and play well.

“We want to build that imposing record and we have let ourselves down on a couple of occasions this year.”

The Crows named veteran onballer Scott Thompson for his first senior game this season after a stellar run of form in the SANFL.

Scott Thompson will play his first game of the season. Photo: Michael Errey / InDaily

The 307-game midfielder Thompson last played senior football last September when Adelaide’s season ended with the 2016 semi-final loss to Sydney.

Adelaide also recalled Andy Otten and Charlie Cameron, with Kyle Hartigan (hamstring), Hugh Greenwood (managed) and Jono Beech the omissions.

For Port Adelaide, important defender Jack Hombsch returns from a knee injury for the Power’s crucial Sunday match against West Coast, with prospective debutants Joe Atley and Willem Drew named on an extended bench.

-AAP

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