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Tempo crucial in Crows clash

Natalie MacGregor  August 11, 2017 12:12 PM

BTV: RD 21 | Lucas' Preview Scott Lucas previews our upcoming Round 21 clash with Adelaide.

Essendon need to slow the game down and control the ball against Adelaide on Saturday night, according to Bombers champion Scott Lucas.

The Crows are perched on the top of the ladder with 14 wins, while the Bombers are in eighth position.

“I think at times they just need to really control the tempo and take some of the zip out of the game,” Lucas said.

“The Crows do like to get into a rhythm of going and going and going.

“If you can slow that down, I think that will benefit the Bombers.

“We saw when they tried to play that up-tempo game against the Dogs, they weren’t capable of doing it.

“Controlling it at certain times will be important.”

Adelaide is the highest scoring team in the league this season, with 315 goals.  That’s 38 goals ahead of the next highest scoring team, Geelong.

Lucas said the Dons side would need to put pressure on the Crows across the entire field, to slow their run forward.

“It’s a real challenge for the ‘backs’ – not only - defence is all over the ground and it’s the pressure the forwards put on, also the ‘mids’ blocking the corridor and making their ball movement harder to get it through quicker,” he said.

“I think it’s important if they can release Hurley into that interceptor type role and get him in a position to organise the backs and set them up and lay off to support.

“That’s going to be critical.

“Ambrose did a very good on Tex (Walker) – will look to go to him again, which gives Hurley the opportunity to intercept and play that role.”

Adelaide is able to get most of its drive off half-back, making the Dons forward pressure critical.

“Brodie Smith and Rory Laird get it and go quickly, that really opens up the ground for them, so our forward pressure is critical,” Lucas said.

“When the ball comes in, they need to really hold it in there and get repeat entries against this Crows team because their ball movement from half-back to the forward line is exceptional.”

Essendon has made five changes to its side, with Andrew McGrath, James Kelly, Matt Dea, Jayden Laverde and Matthew Leuenberger coming into the side in place of Zach Merrett (suspended), Orazio Fantasia (hamstring), Tom Bellchambers (foot), Mark Baguley (rested) and Michael Hartley.

“There are a lot of changes,” Lucas said.

“Bellchambers has been in very good form – he goes out with an injury. Losing Merrett due to suspension, and Fantasia with a hamstring (injury).

“Then you have Baguley who is rested, I would have thought he was a good chance to play on Eddie Betts.

“At this time of the year, for him to have a week off is important.

“So there are some real changes but also some opportunities for players coming in.

“It does make it a little harder, it might be a great opportunity for Andrew McGrath to take Eddie Betts, in his first season, to show what he can do.

“As a junior he played a lot down back, and he has shown he is very capable of it so far this year.”