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Is the new Gary Ablett the key to Cats' flag chase?

Highlights: Adelaide v Geelong The Crows and Cats clash in round three
(Ablett's) experience did show through, just with his composure with the ball
Chris Scott

LESS is more for Gary Ablett.

Arguably the greatest player of the modern era, even at 34 years of age and coming off a five-day break, the little master is capable of stamping his influence all over a game.

The days of Ablett dominating through the midfield are done.

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His body has a lot of miles on it through his illustrious 324-game career, so Geelong are smartly using him in the forward half of the ground, especially when the Cats are able to call on an array of fresh legs through the midfield.

Ablett stood up when it mattered, kicking a crucial goal and having a hand in a couple of others in the Cats' 24-point win against Adelaide at Adelaide Oval on Thursday night.

The Cats were well in control in the first half before the inaccurate Crows fine-tuned their entries into the forward 50, lowered their eyes, hit short targets and narrowed the gap to just three points at three-quarter time.

Matt Crouch cancelled out Gary Rohan's goal at the start of the last term before Ablett took centre stage, converting from 50m out to put the Cats back on top by nine points.

 

It was the kind of poise and composure you'd expect from a player of Ablett's class and experience.

That was the ball game – exciting third-gamer Gryan Miers booting his third goal and ex-Sydney forward Rohan chiming in for his second major of the night to complete the successful snatch-and-grab raid in enemy territory.

Ablett was dangerous from the start of the contest, even when he wasn't hitting the scoreboard himself.

From eight disposals in the first half, two of those led directly to goals.

His vision allowed him to find Miers in a pocket, the dreadlocked youngster doing the rest with a brilliant set-shot.

Cats coach Chris Scott said the implementation of set starting positions from the centre bounce worked to the advantage of the elite players in the league, such as Ablett.

"I think he's a handful in that part of the ground," Scott said.

"Our observation is with the new rules (set starting positions), there's a few more one-on-one battles in the forward half.

"Players that can win contests ahead of the ball are more valuable than they used to be.

"His experience did show through, just with his composure with the ball.

"He's still got some penetration (with his kick).

"I think there's been some criticism recently that I don't agree with, that he kicks the ball a bit short, but if he gets the ball anywhere close to 50, he's got more than enough penetration to knock it over."

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The Crows remarkably gave Ablett plenty of space at centre bounces, with Wayne Milera zoning off and giving him up to 10m of room.

Ablett's composure beautifully complements the energy of Miers, the pressure of Rohan, the smarts of former Western Bulldog Luke Dahlhaus and the key focal target that is Tom Hawkins.

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