Adelaide must find a way to bring their fast-paced running game in order to succeed in the AFL finals, star midfielder Rory Sloane says.
West Coast’s ability to stifle the Crows’ run and spread played a key role in their 29-point victory at Adelaide Oval on Friday.
The Eagles comfortably won the midfield battle and were able to slow down the Crows, forcing them to kick long to a contest which allowed West Coast’s defenders to rack up intercept marks.
Sloane was forced to watch from the coaching box after being slapped with a one-week suspension for accidentally striking Port’s Brad Ebert.
While it was frustrating to see the game unfold from above, Sloane says his vantage point made it easy to see where the Crows were going wrong
“It wasn’t so much the contested ball, it was more the stuff from stoppages and their spread away from them that got us,” Sloane told AAP.
“As we know, finals means contested footy, so we’re certainly going to have to make sure that’s right at the top of our game.
“But it’s also our spread. We’ve really got to take the game on as well, that certainly has to be at a high level because that’s when we’ve played our best footy.”
Sloane says he’s raring to return for the Crows’ home elimination final against North Melbourne on Saturday September 10.
Defender Brodie Smith is likely to face the Kangaroos after being sidelined with concussion, while winger Paul Seedsman (corked buttock) is also a chance to return.
Smith looms as a key cog in the Crows’ running game, providing more rebounds out of the backline and more inside-50s than any of his teammates this year.
North Melbourne’s lacklustre record in the second half of the season – winning just two of their last 11 games – suggests the Crows will start short-priced favourites to win.
But Sloane says he rates the Kangaroos’ big-bodied midfielders and won’t be underestimating their potential to turn the contest.
“They’ve got some of the strongest inside mids in the comp … they love hunting the contested ball,” he said.
“That’s what finals is, and if they get first use to their big forwards, they can be very dangerous as well.”
Sloane has been in career-best form since replacing Patrick Dangerfield as anchor of the Crows midfield, averaging 26 disposals, five clearances and seven tackles per game this year.
The 26-year-old’s suspension left him ineligible for the Brownlow medal, with former teammate Dangerfield favourite to claim the award.