Crows players including Rory Sloane (front left) celebrate a goal against the Cats.
Crows players including Rory Sloane (front left) celebrate a goal against the Cats. DAVID MARIUZ

WATCH: Sloane edges Dangerfield in strong Crows win

IT went just as we thought it would. The star, who battled an injury during the week, kept his spot in the team and led it to a statement win.

Except it wasn't that Patrick Dangerfield fellow - even though he seemed to be all that was discussed. It was his opposite number.

Rory Sloane, having suffered a concussion last week, showed no symptoms in a best-on-ground performance that re-established himself as one of the game's pre-eminent midfielders - and the Crows as perhaps the game's pre-eminent team.

Adelaide's 13.13.91 to 10.10.70 victory at the Adelaide Oval saw the Cats fight hard late, with Harry Taylor bagging five goals (all in the second half).

But the Crows were clearly the better side - and having dominated the clearance count by 20, it all goes back to their midfield general.

It wasn't just the concussion that had some concerned about Sloane. He simply hasn't had an impact on games in which he was tagged - which is what made the first half on Friday night so strange.

"I'm astonished that they didn't send Scott Selwood straight to Rory Sloane," Jonathan Brown said on Fox Footy.

It seemed to make perfect sense. Selwood had tagged stars out of the game earlier this season and Sloane had been a victim of tags; since Round 7, the Crow had averaged 10 disposals, five contested possessions, two clearances, two score involvements and 0.4 goals in the first halves of games.

 

Richard Douglas of the Crows (left) contests the ball with Tom Lonergan of the Cats.
Richard Douglas of the Crows (left) contests the ball with Tom Lonergan of the Cats. DAVID MARIUZ

But at halftime against one of the game's better midfields, Sloane had 16 disposals, nine contested possessions, four clearances, eight score involvements and two goals.

"(In previous weeks) he has been trying to do everything for his teammates, instead of doing what he does best and that is just focusing on winning the football," Gerard Healy explained on Fox Footy.

"Rory Sloane (was) trying to do everything for everybody else, he is not charging, his body language is down a little, he's not the absolutely aggressive Rory Sloane we've seen today.

"He has made the football his own."

That aggression was very noticeable even in a fiery game which produced a total of 61 free kicks (31-30) - the most in any match this season.

 

Patrick Dangerfield of the Cats (left) is tackled by Sam Jacobs of the Crows.
Patrick Dangerfield of the Cats (left) is tackled by Sam Jacobs of the Crows. DAVID MARIUZ

It seemed clear from the opening bounce that this was a different Adelaide side. The team that had been criticised for not being physical enough was going to show it could play on the edge and use it to win.

"His (Sloane's) aggression tonight not only at the footy but the man with the footy and the players that have been niggling him has been the difference between now and the last four or weeks," Wayne Carey said on Channel 7.

His co-commentator Cameron Ling added: "He has set the tone for his entire team."

In the end, Sloane finished with 28 disposals and three goals, showing he had an enormous presence both physically and mentally for the Crows.

"It's one of the best games I've seen him play," declared Jason Dunstall post-game on Fox Footy.

It's hard to argue with him.

News Corp Australia

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