JOEL Selwood finished Geelong's 41-point victory over Fremantle on Saturday night with 13 possessions and three stitches below his right eye.
But after even after being annoyed to the point of fury by Ryan Crowley, the Cats skipper refused to publicly condemn the man developing a reputation as the game's most infamous tagger.
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"He's pretty tough," Selwood said after the match. "I really respect him as a tagger. He goes about it the right way, I think.
"They're a good side. A good defensive side. So that definitely helps them."
Selwood's tally of 13 possessions was his lowest since round one, 2011, when he finished with only seven after being knocked out by St Kilda's Farren Ray.
However, he refused to blame his quiet night on the incident that caused the cut to his face.
"Not sure (how it happened)," Selwood said. "First quarter. Not sure if it was an elbow or a knee, just one of those things."
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Selwood's teammates were also reluctant to criticise Crowley following Geelong's victory despite many pushing, shoving and verbally targeting him during the contest.
"He does his job," Cats midfielder James Kelly said. "He probably pushes the boundaries a little bit.
"But that's obviously the role that he plays in that side. Ross (Lyon) is happy with him and he's happy with it, so you just sort of move on, I guess."
As for the incident that left Selwood with the cut under his eye, Kelly said he didn't see it, then added: "Apparently they had an iso cam on him, so I'm sure someone saw it."
Not surprisingly, Lyon defended Crowley, who finished with two more possessions than his opponent.
"Selwood is a great player and they are dominating and (Crowley's) got fierce concentration – plays it really well," the Freo coach said.
Lyon added that Crowley "was put under a lot of scrutiny" during the week after being fined for pinching North Melbourne veteran Brent Harvey.
"(I) thought he displayed his true character today," Lyon added. "It was self-evident the way he goes about it, and he was our only four-quarter performer on a great player, against great adversity.
"Sometimes you can talk about your character or you can display it, and I thought he displayed it tonight."