Tuesday 20 February 2018 / 03:01 AM


After taking down the Swans in a scintillating half of football, former Crow Patrick Dangerfield will be looking to take the pressure off the under-performing Tom Hawkins on Friday night when Geelong play away to Adelaide in a sold-out blockbuster preliminary final at Adelaide Oval.

While Dangerfield has already played against his former club twice at his old stomping ground, this game is set to be the daddy of them all given the high stakes involved. The Crows have evolved as a stronger football side despite losing their best player at the end of the 2015 season, and will be looking to let Dangerfield know all about it.

Dangerfield was crucial last week in ensuring Geelong had a main attacking outlet, with Hawkins out of sorts over the last couple of games. Hawkins hasn’t produced that traditional attack to the footy in recent times, but he did play a sacrificial role at times last week up the ground to ensure Dangerfield had space to lead into inside 50.

The last time these two played each other, the Crows were fast starters against the Cats kicking 5.2 to 1.4. Adelaide were also able to smash Geelong in the clearances – led by the Crouch brothers Brad and Matt, Hugh Greenwood and Rory Sloane. That quartet had more clearances then the entire Geelong side that night.

Brad Crouch’s 10 clearances were double the best Geelong players, Cam Guthrie and Joel Selwood, who both had five each.

The form of Joel Selwood would be a slight concern to Geelong coach Chris Scott. After rushing Selwood back for the qualifying final, he hasn’t looked near his best form so far. While the circumstances meant Scott wanted his captain back as soon as possible, there is no doubt Selwood will need to be playing his best on Friday night given the Crows’ midfield quality.

Meanwhile, Joel’s brother Scott Selwood is expected to tag one of Adelaide’s big three in Brad and Matt Crouch or Rory Sloane. It is likely Sloane will start off being tagged given his influential game last time against the Cats. But it may change depending on who is getting on top in the centre.

If Dangerfield does go forward then Geelong will require Harry Taylor to slot back in defence to give his defenders some support. The Cats will regain retiring defending Tom Lonergan, but Taylor did a fantastic job with Lachie Henderson in the semi-final against Lance Franklin and Taylor will need to play a sacrificial role while the Cats’ forward setup is altered.

Taylor would be the perfect player to run around with Crow Tom Lynch, as Lynch is capable of covering the ground really well as a lead-up forward. Lynch regularly gets plenty of touches leading up on the wing as a long get-out option during the Crows’ transition.

Adelaide will need to contemplate a replacement for running half-back Brodie Smith, who unfourtunaly tore his ACL in the qualifying final win over GWS two weeks ago. Paul Seedsman looks set to be given the nod after garnering experience in that position for Collingwood before moving to the Crows in 2016.

Richard Douglas will be looking to burn Geelong on the outside again, with the wingman/half-forward flanker kicking four goals last time they met. Douglas played his best game of the season that night, nearly pipping Rory Sloane for best-on-ground.

Adelaide will start favourites and deservedly so after finishing first on the ladder. Geelong have to slow the play down this time to ensure they aren’t burnt by the slick-moving Crows.

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Brett Sinclair

Sport has always been a big passion in Brett's life and he aims to share his vision with Commentary Box Sports' readers. Based in Melbourne, Brett covers AFL, NRL, cricket and football for CBS.

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