The ladder-leading Crows sent an ominous warning to their rivals with Saturday’s 100-point demolition of Fremantle as gun midfielder Rory Sloane (30 disposals, 13 tackles, two goals) continued his career-best form.
A clear barometer for Adelaide, Sloane has recorded fewer than 20 touches just twice this season – against North Melbourne in round seven and Melbourne in round eight – with the Crows losing both games.
Both the Kangaroos and Demons placed Sloane under a hard tag – through Sam Gibson and Bernie Vince respectively – and were successful in reducing his output.
The third-placed Cats look likely to take the same approach, with skipper Joel Selwood indicating his brother Scott will be given the job.
The younger Selwood has been deployed as a tagger in the past and has made an immediate impact since returning from injury a fortnight ago, racking up a massive 34 tackles from two games.
“He is a tackling machine,” Joel Selwood told radio station RSN927 today.
“He’d probably like to win a few more of those half-contests himself but he has been doing a good job the last couple of weeks. He’s had a job to do and he’s done it really well.
“It’s nice to have him as the pillar in there – a bit like ‘Lingy’ (former captain Cameron Ling) back in the day – you have that guy that goes to someone and it sets up the others around him.”
Many predicted Adelaide would struggle following Patrick Dangerfield’s move to Geelong, but Sloane’s outstanding form means he’s every chance of following in Dangerfield’s footsteps and winning a maiden Brownlow medal.
“He has been in some great form this year,” Selwood said.
“I did watch bits of him on the weekend and he was getting sat on pretty heavily, (at least) early anyway, and still finding a way.
“He is the fire-starter for them. He’s been playing some great footy, so we will need to make sure we calm his influence.”
The stage is also perfectly set for Cats spearhead Tom Hawkins to celebrate his 200-game milestone against the ladder-leaders in prime time on Friday night.
Hawkins admits he couldn’t have asked for much more for his big game and says the Cats are up for the much-anticipated contest.
“For us, Adelaide are the best side in the comp so they throw down the biggest challenge [but] we feel like we’ve maybe got a blueprint that when we’re playing at our best we can beat them,” Hawkins said.
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