One of the great clichés in the world of AFL is that there are certain games which are worth more than the four points available to the winning sides. Today, Adelaide and Geelong will battle it out in a contest which appears to be such a contest, and on which already looks to hold great significance over the eventual landscape of the ladder.
Last week Adelaide did what appeared to be impossible; beat the previously undefeated Swans at the SCG. It was the perfect start to a tough stretch for the Crows, with upcoming matches against Carlton, Collingwood and Fremantle set to define their season, a victory against the reigning premiers would see them in good shape.
Geelong has looked sluggish at times, but one gets the feeling that the approach which may seem lackadaisical in patches will quickly be lifted when the matches that truly count are being decided.
With Collingwood next week and Adelaide sitting at 5-1 coming into the match, it is time for Geelong to announce itself as a contender
Harry Taylor vs Kurt Tippett and Taylor Walker
The key to Geelong’s premierships over the years has been the rock solid defence that can simply strangle sides who struggle with ball movement into the forward half. Where Adelaide may have once struggled they now thrive, with Tippett and Walker becoming a dangerous duo capable of tearing a game apart in a few moments of play.
Harry Taylor may have been a speculative pick when he was first drafted, but his performances since then have shown what a class defender he truly is. He will be playing against one of Adelaide’s key forwards, but if the other gets off the leash, you can expect him to be quickly moved.
Joel Selwood vs Patrick Dangerfield
In many ways, this matchup could determine who wins the midfield contest between the two sides. Both are instrumental in winning the hard ball and getting it out to the outside players; an off game could spell disaster for the entire side.
Selwood missed last week’s match against Melbourne, but it appeared to not be due to injury concerns but rather to give the Cats Skipper some needed rest.
Dangerfield loves to break from the packs and quickly surge toward goals, but he will have to increase his focus on his defensive mindset against Selwood.
Daniel Talia vs Tom Hawkins
It’s hard to believe what three strong games can do for a key forwards development.
Although the progression may have happened anyway, Hawkins’ finals series, which concluded with a dominant Grand Final display has seen him begin 2012 in breathtaking form. No longer is he the young forward trying to find his feet in a dominant side; he is now the power forward who has found a commanding presence that makes Geelong a much better side.
Talia has looked strong this season, but is still learning the craft of being a key defender. It looks to be a tough ask and he will require assistance from the Crows’ midfielders dropping back into space and making life difficult for Hawkins. Hawkins showed a few weeks ago that not even abhorrent weather will slow him down, so a team effort is required to neutralize his presence.
The Cats have done enough to win the majority of their games this year without hitting top gear, but they’ll need to be at their best to win this one.
Adelaide have barely put a foot wrong, and appeared poised to claim a big scalp.
Adelaide by 14
B: Michael Doughty, Ben Rutten, Graham Johncock
HB: Matthew Jaensch, Daniel Talia, Brent Reilly
C: David Mackay, Patrick Dangerfield, Nathan van Berlo
HF: Jared Petrenko, Taylor Walker, Ian Callinan
F: Matthew Wright, Kurt Tippett, Jason Porplyzia
Foll: Sam Jacobs, Scott Thompson, Rory Sloane
I/C: Ricky Henderson, Brodie Smith, Jarryd Lyons, Josh Jenkins
Emg: Brad Symes, Brodie Martin, Tom Lynch
In: Josh Jenkins
Out: Shaun McKernan (Suspension)
New: Josh Jenkins (Essendon)
B: Matthew Scarlett, Harry Taylor, Josh Hunt
HB: Corey Enright, Tom Lonergan, Andrew Mackie
C: James Kelly, Allen Christensen, Joel Corey
HF: Mitch Duncan, James Podsiadly, Steven Motlop
F: Steve Johnson, Tom Hawkins, Joel Selwood
Foll: Trent West, Taylor Hunt, Paul Chapman
I/C: Jimmy Bartel, Jesse Stringer, Billie Smedts, Cameron Guthrie
Emg: Shannon Byrnes, Tom Gillies, George Horlin-Smith
In: Tom Lonergan, Joel Selwood, Taylor Hunt
Out: Shannon Byrnes, Mitch Brown, Tom Gillies