29/05/2024

Tex Walker (six goals) and Rory Sloane (34 touches) dragged Adelaide over the line against the Suns. Picture: Afc.com.au

Taylor Walker and Rory Sloane starred for the Crows as they ran out 10 point winners over the Gold Coast Suns on Good Friday.

The Taylor Walker renaissance continued as the big forward kicked six goals in a heart-stopping 10 point win over the Gold Coast Suns on Friday night.

Walker helped stop a surging Gold Coast and kept the Crows in the hunt in the early stages with three first quarter goals, keeping the margin to just six points at the first break.

It had been a lean period for the former Crows captain, but now fans can flock back to Adelaide Oval eagerly awaiting an answer to the question: “How many goals did Taylor Walker kick?”

Coach Matthew Nicks is once again happy to be talking about Walker but claims that the key forward has not changed his game at all following a disappointing 2020.

“I’ve said I think for three weeks now, he’s no younger or fitter than what he was last year,” Nicks began.

“He’s in some very, very good form, we can’t hide from that. He’s in great form because of the way the team’s played around him.

“It’s a credit to him and I’m really enjoying the way he’s going about it, the way he’s playing his footy and he’s getting the reward he deserves.

“He had a number of contests he was in where you just sit back and clap your hands and say well that was just genuine individual brilliance.”

Tex currently leads the Coleman medal race with his 17 goals in three games, already two more than he managed across his 14 games last season.

The Crows are spoilt for choice in the tall forward department with Darcy Fogarty, Elliot Himmelburg and pick 1 of last year’s draft RIley Thilthorpe all playing for the Adelaide SANFL side earlier that day.

Thilthorpe was quiet, only managing the one goal, but Matthew Nicks believes there is a situation where he and Walker can share the tall forward duties at AFL level.

“We hope so, when you start to look at the longer term, Riley’s developing his game at the moment and playing a number of different roles for us at the SANFL level,” he said.

“He’s got endurance which means he can run and get around the ground so that’s a bonus for us.

“What you find with those key position players is that it takes a little longer for them to develop that core strength and the body strength to compete ahead of the ball.

“I’d love to see those guys play alongside each other at some point.”

Veteran captain Rory Sloane was instrumental in the win, racking up 34 disposals and leading the game in clearances.

Injury interrupted Sloane’s 2020 campaign but now, with some welcome rest during the off-season, he is looking like the Rory Sloane we came to know during the mid 2010’s that was so integral to the Crows success.

“I thought that was one of the best captains games I’ve seen, he was everywhere,” Nicks said of Sloane.

“He had 20 contested possessions, 11 clearances and you need your leaders to stand up.”

For the third week in a row, though, all eyes remained on Walker with Nicks hoping his good form can continue deep into 2021.

“There are players that play past 30 and he’s a key position player, he’s not a midfielder that’s bash and crash inside,” he said.

“It will come down to how the team’s playing, whether we need to manage Tex at a point.

“We’ll be asking him to do things where if we’re not playing well, they’re not his weapons and that will be competing in packs and having to crash packs constantly.

“I hope we keep our form where it is and I’m confident we will because we’re an enthusiastic group, we’re loving where we’re at at the moment and we like the way we’re playing our footy.

“Tex mentioned something in the rooms where it’s just the cream on top. The boys are doing the hard work, surging the ball and getting it forward as much as we can and Tex is finishing things off at the moment.

“He really wrapped his teammates up tonight and couldn’t be more pleased with how they’re going.”

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