AFL’s best tacklers set to clash

There will be plenty of tackling but no tags when Adelaide look to improve its AFL season to 4-0 against the reborn Western Bulldogs.

In their first year as senior coaches, the Crows’ Phil Walsh and Luke Beveridge at the Bulldogs, have grown contested ball-hungry game styles.

And it’s working.

Adelaide and the Bulldogs are ranked first and second in the league for tackling and are two of the league’s biggest improvers this season.

Bulldogs assistant coach Daniel Giansiracusa says they believe the contest will be won in the midfield scrap.

“It’s going to be a pretty fierce and hotly contested footy to be won,” he said.

“If you can get on top of that area of the game, it goes a long way to winning on the scoreboard as well.”

After their fine start to the season, the Bulldogs were brought crashing down to earth in round three by Hawthorn’s 70-point belting.

But Giansiracusa said it hadn’t dented the feel-good factor at Whitten Oval.

If previous boss Brendan McCartney laid the platform for the Dogs tackle-heavy game, Beveridge has given them confidence.

“Everyone is feeling good about themselves, that’s something Luke has brought into the place,” he said.

Every ounce of that belief will be needed against the irrepressible Crows.

Far from seeing their trip to Etihad as a tricky away day, Walsh said it would actually help.

“I’d like to think we’re a little bit more offensive and Etihad, because it’s that little bit rounder, perfect conditions, gives us that opportunity,” he said.

The Bulldogs have recalled both Marcus Bontempelli and Matthew Boyd after calf strains along with Easton Wood and Clay Smith.

There are equally big outs though, with Will Minson and Brett Goodes dropped and Dale Morris (pectoral) and Mitch Wallis (back) hurt.

The Crows have made just one change, with Jarryd Lyons preferred to youngster Charlie Cameron.

While Walsh saw Dangerfield tagged out of the contest last weekend and the Bulldogs refused to stand a dominant Luke Hodge, both coaches agreed they were unlikely to send taggers out on Sunday.

That’s despite Walsh likening Bontempelli to Scott Pendlebury.

“I’m not a tag coach,” Walsh said.

“If he gets going we will put a cooler on him.”

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