Adelaide coach Don Pyke has lamented his team’s finishing skills, but also says there were plenty of positives to take out of Sunday’s two-point loss to Fremantle in Mount Barker, WA.
The Crows generated 11 more scoring shots than the Dockers, but struggled to convert their opportunities into goals in swirly conditions at Sounness Park.
Wingman Rory Atkins had a chance to snatch victory for Adelaide, but his running shot at goal in the closing moments missed to the left. The Crows finished the day with a wayward return of 8.19 (67) compared to Freo’s 1.9.6 (69).
Last weekend, Adelaide kicked 2.20.10 (148) on its way to a 100-point win over an undermanned West Coast. Pyke was confident his side just had an off day in front of the sticks.
“I don’t think it (inaccurate goalkicking) is a pattern,” Pyke said.
“It’s really hard to win games of footy when you don’t get scoreboard pressure on. I thought in the second quarter we had opportunities and enough flow of the game to be able to score more than we did.
“That keeps a good side like Fremantle in the game.”
The Crows used a combination of fast and also patient ball movement to penetrate the revered Dockers defence at different stages of the NAB Challenge match.
Adelaide, itself, also defended strongly at times, with the likes of Rory Laird and Jake Lever displaying great courage in the back half, and stand-in skipper Rory Sloane setting the tone for tackling.
“There were a lot of positives from our viewpoint,” Pyke said.
“Some of our ball movement, (which) we’ve been working on, we saw (today) and some of our team defence and principles, which again we’ve been focusing on, we saw some of those as well.
“Even the way we finished the game. It would’ve been easy when we got two two-and-a-half goals behind (to give up) but our guys really fought it out and continued to push for the win. Probably, apart from another point we might’ve snatched the lead at the end.
“It was a good contest. It was a good, close, hard-fought game of footy, which we wanted. It’s an ideal prep for the lead into the season.”
Atkins, Laird, Lever and Matt Crouch were among the young Crows to impress.
Pyke said he’d seen glimpses from a number of emerging players on Sunday.
“It was good to see Mitch McGovern get another run. He’s a local boy … and I know he was excited about coming and playing in front of his crowd,” he said.
“Reilly O’Brien got a taste of it in the ruck today which was pleasing. We saw more bits and pieces from some of our first-year guys, Dean Gore and Wayne Milera. And Troy Menzel came in today and did a few handy things.
“There are a number of guys competing for spots. Some of those guys did a good job again today.”
The Crows reported no injuries in the narrow defeat.
All Australian defender Brodie Smith fell ill early in the match and took no part after half time.
Pyke flagged the return of first-choice players Taylor Walker, Scott Thompson, Daniel Talia, Sam Jacobs and Eddie Betts, who all sat out Sunday’s clash, for the Club’s final pre-season hit-out against Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium on Friday, March 11.
Promising midfielder Brad Crouch and also half-back Curtly Hampton, who played in Adelaide’s SANFL trial game on Saturday morning, are expected to be available for selection.
The Crows fielded 26 players in each of their first two NAB Challenge games, but will be limited to a team of 24 in the final round. Pyke said it would be tight for spots against the Suns.
“We’ll, more or less, prepare for that game (against Gold Coast) as a bit of a dress rehearsal,” he said.
“We’ve got 12 days off this game to prepare for that and that should give us a chance to settle the side. With two weeks from there until Round One, we’ll probably pick a stronger side for that game.”