Chris Scott brands Tom Stewart the AFL’s best defender as Tyson Stengle gets revenge on Adelaide for dumping him by steering Geelong to big win over Crows
- Stewart finished with 40 disposals to earn high praise from Cats coach
- Tyson Stengle kicked three goals against club that axed him in 2020
- Geelong kicked seven of last eight goals after strong Crows challenge
Geelong coach Chris Scott has lauded Tom Stewart as the AFL’s best defender after he played a starring role in the Cats’ 42-point win over Adelaide.
Jeremy Cameron kicked four goals for the Cats and Tyson Stengle booted three against the club that axed him more than a year ago over a string of off-field incidents.
But it was Stewart who shone brightest as Geelong rode a strong challenge during the third term and kicked seven of the last eight goals to prevail 15.7 (97) to 7.13 (55) on Saturday at GMHBA Stadium.
Stewart finished with 40 disposals and was crucial in repelling opposition raids as Adelaide dominated the clearance battle (32-16) in the first half.
‘It’s difficult for people who aren’t at the ground to see the way the shape is looking and Tom Stewart was just sensational today,’ Scott said.
‘Just sensational today’: Tom Stewart won high praise from his coach and could do no wrong against Adelaide, repelling raid after raid and recording 40 possessions
Stewart is cheered off the ground after his crucial effort in the Cats’ 42-point win
‘If we didn’t have him behind the ball and they were winning the stoppages then it would’ve been really difficult for us.
‘But that was something that, in order to have that (stoppage) ascendancy, they were prepared to let us have.’
Stewart has been key in Geelong’s 7-4 start this season after missing last year’s finals campaign with a foot injury.
‘I’m biased but I think he’s the best defender in the game,’ Scott said.
‘I live in a filter-bubble, I understand that, but he’s improving off a very high base.
‘He’s very important for us and he was crucial last year.
‘To lose him going into the finals was a big loss and I think we’re seeing exactly what a loss that was right at the moment.’
Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks made a few tweaks as he tried to stem Stewart’s influence but didn’t appear overly concerned by the defender’s performance in his post-match assessment.
Nicks pointed out a portion of Stewart’s disposals came from kick-ins.
Added motivation: Tyson Stengle kicked three majors against the club that dumped him over off-field issues in 2020
‘They create shape on the ground very well as a mature group and they were able to do that, and he’s the guy who they like to free up,’ Nicks said.
‘He’s pretty hard to stop in that space but he’s had 40 (disposals) a number of times and they’ve lost games of footy.
‘We’d like to have limited his ball use and we know that’s a factor in the game but we do that by kicking goals and not giving another 13 opportunities.’
Cam Guthrie (34 disposals), Brandan Parfitt (30) and Joel Selwood (24) were busy in the midfield for Geelong and Tom Atkins laid 17 tackles, while young tall Tom De Koning stood up in defence.
Adelaide’s Mitchell Hinge comes in for some close – and high – attention from Joel Selwood (left). The Crows challenged strongly in the third quarter but fell apart after that
Adelaide ruckman Reilly O’Brien was recalled after a short stint in the reserves and fought hard in a losing cause, racking up 28 disposals, 24 contested possessions, 46 hit-outs, nine clearances and seven tackles.
Young forward Darcy Fogarty booted three goals for the Crows, while Rory Laird (38 disposals) and Ben Keays (28) had plenty of the ball.
The visitors had to substitute defender Jordon Butts out of the match because of concussion and Lachlan Murphy suffered a broken nose.