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Curtly feeling more comfortable

Curtly Hampton Post Match: R3 Curtly Hampton speaks to AFC Media after his first ever Showdown
‘Pykey’ has been great, telling me to stay calm, keep working hard at training and eventually it will turn
Curtly Hampton

Curtly Hampton has credited Adelaide’s leaders for helping him to keep calm and maintain a positive mindset as he re-adjusts to playing at AFL level.

Hampton, 24, played his third and best game for the Club in Showdown XLII on Saturday night.

The dynamic midfielder collected 18 disposals – his most in an AFL game since 2014 – in Adelaide’s impressive win over Port Adelaide.

He also generated an equal-team high six inside 50ms and was involved in six scores.

But it was Hampton’s willingness to work hard defensively that underpinned his performance.

The former Greater Western Sydney utility had more pressure acts (27) than any other Crow, and applied nine tackles – the equal most of any player on the ground.

Hampton, who was unable to break into the senior team last year after an injury-interrupted first season at West Lakes, said he was starting to feel at home at the level again.

“It was a long time coming, playing AFL footy again. It was over a year between games,” Hampton said.

“I played in the JLT Series, but Rounds One, Two and Three (in the Premiership Season) are a lot different to JLT.

“Maybe, I’m being a bit hard on myself … but I probably struggled a bit in the first two rounds and I didn’t play as well as I wanted to.

“(Coach Don Pyke) ‘Pykey’ has been great, telling me to stay calm, keep working hard at training and eventually it will turn.

“I felt like tonight was a good game for me. Being in there with ‘Sloaney’ (Rory Sloane) and that makes me feel a lot more comfortable and when ‘Sauce’ (Sam Jacobs) is on top too.

“I’m just in there trying to play my role, but I definitely felt my best tonight.”

The Club’s leaders also played an important role in the outcome of the game on Saturday night.

Captain Taylor Walker overcame a frustrating first half to kick four goals, including the sealer in the last quarter.

Vice-captain Rory Sloane was awarded the Showdown Medal for his performance, which included 31 possessions, nine tackles, eight clearances and a goal.

“All our leaders stepped up tonight. They made everyone feel calm before the game,” Hampton said.

“Tex was unbelievable in that second half. You know when he gets a mark outside 50m that it’s most likely going to go in for a goal. That just lifts all the boys.

“The captain and Sloaney were outstanding tonight.”

Hampton and Sloane were two important cogs in a midfield that helped swing the all-important contested ball count in Adelaide’s favour.

Led by Sloane and Richard Douglas, who won 43 contested possessions between them, the Crows finished with 31 more contested possessions than the Power (176 – 145).

“We knew that Port are a really good contested possession side. That’s the reason why they’ve been winning so far this season,” Hampton said after the game.

‘(Midfield coach Scott Camporeale) ‘Campo’ really put it on us mids to go out there and win the contested possessions, the first possessions and the clearances.

“I think we did that tonight. ‘Sloaney’ led the way like he always does, but Richard Douglas is always good and Matty Crouch sets the standard too.”

Port Adelaide kicked the first three goals of the game to skip to an early lead in front of a vocal crowd of 53,698.

The Crows steadied with two Eddie Betts goals late in the first term, and swingman Andy Otten put his team ahead with his second goal approaching half time.

The Power closed to within six points early in the final quarter but Adelaide kicked away again to record a stirring 17-point victory.

For a lifelong Crows fan like Hampton, it was a memorable experience.

“It was an unbelievable atmosphere. It was my first Showdown, obviously, and in front of a crowd of 53,000 … it was the loudest crowd I’ve ever been in front of,” he said.

“I’ve watched all the Showdowns in the past, so I know what it’s all about.

“Full credit to the boys. We trained really well during the week and ‘Pykey’ had a clear message for us. We executed our game plan pretty well in the end and got the win.”