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"If one doesn't get you, the other will": Cats wary of Crows' firing forwards

Football

UPDATED | In an AFL career that gets better the longer it lasts, the brilliant Eddie Betts has not made a habit of torching Geelong.

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And Adelaide’s recent record against the Cats is hardly stellar either, with Geelong winning the past four matches between the two sides.

Indeed, the ladder-leading Crows will be gunning to snap a 14-year AFL hoodoo at Simonds Stadium when they take on the in-form Cats in tomorrow night’s big clash at Simonds Stadium.

The free-scoring Crows have topped the 100-point mark in all eight of their wins this year, but were held to two of their three lowest scores in 2016 by the Cats in a pair of losses.

They have only won three of their 19 away games in Geelong – the most recent of those successes coming way back in 2003.

“I think they are independent events,” Crows coach Don Pyke told reporters in Adelaide today.

“Even looking at the likely sides last night there are probably going to be five or six changes from both teams from the last time we played them.

“Clearly down there previously we haven’t been good enough and that’s a good test for us tomorrow night.”

The Crows are coming off a thumping 100-point home win over Fremantle and could well go with an unchanged side, although 26-year-old winger Jono Beech flew to Victoria in an expanded squad of 23 on Thursday and is a chance to make his senior debut.

“He is getting closer and closer and that’s credit to him,” said Pyke.

“He’s worked really hard and his form in the SANFL is really strong.”

Both Pyke and his Geelong counterpart Chris Scott have flagged the enticing prospect of Rory Sloane going head to head with close friend and former teammate Patrick Dangerfield in a dream midfield match-up.

“When you get the chance to watch the best players in the game play, whether they’re matched up on each other or at least are on the same field, it’s always good,” said Pyke.

“We’ve tried different things with Rory in recent times with the tagging.

“We’ve also done some of it ourselves.

“We’ll plan and it will be about executing and adapting on the night to see what the game throws up.”

Friday night’s match is the third on the trot at home for third-placed Geelong, who have seen off the Western Bulldogs and Port Adelaide in the past two rounds.

But Scott is taking little comfort from history, labelling the high-flying Crows the best side in the competition – and Betts as the AFL’s premier small forward.

Cats lock-down defender Jed Bews has enjoyed more success than most against Betts in recent years and will again almost certainly get first crack at the two-time All Australian, who sits in fourth spot in the Coleman Medal race with 31 goals from 10 games.

“Without underrating the job that Bews and others have done in our back half we may have been a bit fortunate that (Betts) wasn’t quite at his best against us,” Scott said yesterday.

“The trap for us is to expect that to happen again.

“We’re prepared for who I believe to be the best small forward in the competition this week and the challenge that presents.”

The Crows are far and away the heaviest-scoring team so far in 2017, having amassed 1241 points in 10 games, almost 200 more than Geelong, who boast the second-best attack in the league.

“They are a forward line where, if one doesn’t get you, the other one will,” said Scott.

“I could go on and on about the challenges they present.”

-AAP

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