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Pyke concerned by Geelong's defensive excellence

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3rd April, 2019
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Despite Geelong’s attacking revamp, Adelaide coach Don Pyke expects one thing to remain the same in Thursday night’s AFL game.

Namely, Geelong’s stingy defence – the hardest to crack in the competition.

“They have done a similar sort of system for a few years,” Pyke says of Geelong’s defensive mechanisms.

“For us, we have obviously spoken about that and what we need to be able to do to counteract.

“I won’t go into detail but clearly we have got some plans.”

Last season, the Cats were – on the points conceded statistic – the best defence in the league.

Last week, in Geelong’s 80-point hammering of Melbourne, the Demons had 72 inside 50s but managed just six goals.

In round one against Geelong, Collingwood had 48 inside 50s for nine goals.

Pyke noted the Cats had also rejigged their attack, with recruits Luke Dahlhaus and Gary Rohan, and fit-again Esava Ratugolea blending with Tom Hawkins and Gary Ablett, along with cameos from Patrick Dangerfield.

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“We know that Dangerfield will spend time down forward, we know Ablett will go a bit deeper at times,” Pyke said.

“They have got some flexibility with their mid-types that can go and play forward; and they’re pretty dangerous forwards.

“And we know the quality of their midfield.

“They have got strengths all over the place.”

Pyke has been forced to summon Reilly O’Brien as a replacement for injured ruck stalwart Sam Jacobs.

Such has been Jacobs’ talent and durability, O’Brien has played just two AFL games – both in 2016 – since being recruited in the 2015 rookie draft.

“He has been waiting a long time for an opportunity,” Pyke said of O’Brien.

“The pleasing part with Reilly, he has improved year-on year … he has got stronger, he’s got fitter, he has just built his game.”

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