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Matt Crouch Post-Match: R6 Crows Midfielder Matt Crouch speaks to AFC media after a win against the Tigers.
I think everyone says it, but it’s a good pre-season

Midfielder Matt Crouch says good old-fashioned hard work is behind his strong start to the season.

Crouch, 22, has taken his game to another level in the opening six rounds.

After three consecutive weeks with 30-plus possessions, the prolific ball winner amassed a career-high 38 touches in Adelaide’s win over Richmond. He also won eight clearances – behind older brother Brad (nine) for the game – and kicked a goal.

More renowned for his work inside the contest, Crouch gained a personal-best 621 metres on Sunday night including an incredible 518 metres in the first half. His average metres gained per game in the first five rounds of 2017 was 331.

Only rebounding half-back Rory Laird, who led the League with 728 metres, gained more ground than Crouch in Adelaide’s 76-point win.

Crouch now ranks fourth in the AFL for total disposals (193) this season and 10th for clearances (40).

The 53-gamer said there was no real secret to his improvement.

“I think everyone says it, but it’s a good pre-season. Once you get a good base and a few pre-seasons, it helps you perform week in and week out,” Crouch said after the game.

“I came to the Club and didn’t really have many pre-seasons under my belt. That was a big focus for me, to get my fitness up to the level. It’s good that I can get that into games now.

“The whole midfield tonight was really good.

“We’ve got a lot of blokes going through there, which is great as well.”

Adelaide’s midfield was beaten in the first quarter, trailing in the contested possessions (38 – 52), clearances (12 – 14) and inside 50ms (8 – 18).

It was no surprise that translated on the scoreboard, with the Crows down by nine points at quarter time.

“I thought our contested ball around the stoppages went up (after quarter time),” Crouch said.

“That was a big focus going into the game.

"We didn’t start great, but I thought after quarter time that area was really good and we started to get our attack off that.”

It was another even performance from the Crows, who had 12 different goalkickers against Richmond.

Crouch, Laird and vice-captain Rory Sloane all had in excess of 30 possessions, while the tight-knit defence limited the previously unbeaten Tigers to their lowest score of the season, 10.4 (64).

Crouch said the spread of contributors was the key to Adelaide’s 6 – 0 start.

“We’ve got a lot of blokes just playing their role,” he said.

“It’s a boring statement, but it’s actually true at the moment.

“We speak about that during the week and I think tonight was another example of that.”

Another big contributor on Sunday night was ruckman Sam Jacobs.

Jacobs won the ruck battle against in-form Tiger Toby Nankervis, amassing 50 hit-outs, a career-best 26 possessions and eight inside 50ms, nine marks and a goal.

“His game tonight was unbelievable,” Crouch said.

“If ‘Sauce’ gets his hand on the footy, he gives us first look and makes it easy for us (midfielders).”

The only minor disappointment for the pro-Crows crowd of 51,069 was fan favourite Eddie Betts being stranded on 499 AFL goals.

In another reflection of Adelaide’s ability to share the load, Betts went goalless after quarter-time.

“He couldn’t quite get there tonight!” Crouch said.

“Hopefully, next week we can give Eddie one and he gets that 500. I reckon he’ll get there next week.”

Crouch praised the crowd – the highest-ever for a match between Adelaide and Richmond.

“It’s huge from our, fans again,” he said.

“It (Sunday twilight) is probably not the most popular timeslot, so it’s great for the fans to come out and support us. They were very loud.”

The Crows will now prepare for a trip to Tasmania to play North Melbourne, which recorded its first win of the season against Gold Coast on Saturday night.

Adelaide sits one game clear on the top of the AFL table, and Crouch said it was important his team maintained its consistency.

“I think we can still improve, which is the great thing,” he said.

“There are little areas we can get better at.

“We’ve just got to focus on the Kangaroos next week and see how we go there.”