ADELAIDE has cemented their standing on top of the AFL ladder, dismantling second-placed Geelong by 21-points at Adelaide Oval on Friday night.
Built up as one of the most anticipated matches of the season, the Crows controlled the top of the table clash from the outset, leading the Cats at every break and dominating the clearances.
Crows’ ace Rory Sloane, who was named in the side following last week’s nasty concussion was superb, collecting 28 disposals and kicking 3 goals.
Crows’ coach Don Pyke says the performance was very pleasing.
“It was a strong performance from our guys tonight. I’m super proud of them,” Pyke said.
“(It) was fantastic from Sloaney tonight, he’s one of our leaders and he led from the front.”
“He came out of last week’s concussion really well, to play that way shows great leadership.”
Pyke was happy with how the game unfolded, but admitted he was confused with some umpiring decisions made throughout the night.
“I was perplexed at times,” Pyke said.
“I’d want to go back and have a look at it, there were a couple of off the ball ones that need some clarity.”
Geelong star Patrick Dangerfield was also under an injury cloud entering Friday night’s clash with a foot injury but took the field against his former side.
Dangerfield started strongly, kicking the Cats first goal before balancing his time between the midfield and forward line, finishing with 25 disposals and that goal.
Cats’ coach Chris Scott says Dangerfield worked hard but was noticeably below his best physically.
“I thought he was okay,” Scott said.
“He was less than his best physically but good enough to play.”
“I thought he kept battling away.”
Scott said the Crows pressure was strong while being comprehensively beaten in the clearances orchestrated his side’s downfall.
“Their pressure was really good, they got a couple of goals early from good pressure,” he said.
“We were minus nineteen in the clearances at three-quarter time.”
“That was the biggest reason we were 6-7 goals down.”
“It wasn’t until late that we were able to play the way we would have liked to from the start.”
Crows’ midfielders Richard Douglas (20 disposals, 4 goals), Hugh Greenwood (23 disposals, 1 goal), Matt Crouch (32 disposals) and Brad Crouch (29 disposals) all helped set up a strong Crows’ win.
Cats’ swingman Harry Taylor (5 goals) sparked a Geelong revival in the last quarter, with Captain Joel Selwood (26 disposals) and Mitch Duncan (24 disposals, 1 goal) also among the Cats’ best contributors.
The injury front saw Cats’ midfielder Mark Blicavs left on crutches following the game with an ankle injury, while Cats’ ruckman Rhys Stanley (corked calf) and Crows’ midfielder Brad Crouch (fractured cheekbone) will also be nursing knocks.
The Crows, who are now fuelled with belief, sit over a game clear on top of the ladder, while the Cats could drop as low as third depending on other results this week.