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Clutch Crouch brothers

Katrina Gill  July 2, 2017 12:40 PM

Brad Crouch Post-Match: R15 Brad Crouch speaks to AFC Media following our two goal win against Carlton in Melbourne.
The Crouches, I thought, stood up and got their hand on the ball

Coach Don Pyke has praised the Crouch brothers for taking control in the last quarter against Carlton.

The persistent Blues clawed their way back from 24 points down in the first term to take the lead with a goal to Dale Thomas at the 12-minute mark of the final quarter.

Faced with similar situations in losses to Hawthorn and Melbourne, Adelaide couldn’t arrest the momentum. 

But away from home in front of a vocal MCG crowd, the Crows responded.

With the external focus on vice-captain Rory Sloane, Brad (11) and Matt (11) Crouch combined for 22 possessions in the final quarter to get the ball going Adelaide’s way.

Matt won five last-quarter clearances and kicked a crucial goal from a sharp Hugh Greenwood handpass, while Brad generate two inside 50ms and narrowly missed kicking a goal of his own.

“The Crouches, I thought, stood up and got their hand on the ball,” Pyke said.

“It was more just the evenness of the contribution that really kept me happy.

“I thought when the game was on the line, and guys had their opportunity to either influence the contest, win a critical ball or lay a tackle they were able to rise to that.

“Were we perfect? No, we weren’t. We’ve still got some work to do … but we were able to find a way.”

While leaders Sloane, Taylor Walker and Daniel Talia had important moments and forwards Josh Jenkins and Riley Knight kicked match-defining goals, Brad Crouch said it was “everyone’s responsibility” to get the game back on Adelaide’s terms in the 12-point win.

“The leaders and the next group of leaders (underneath them) are the ones who drive it, but I definitely found that late in the game we had a pretty even contribution,” he said.

“It was the whole team in the last quarter that organised defence, slowed them (the Blues) down and got it inside our 50m for a couple of shots on goal.”

Matt Crouch’s breakout season has been well documented.

The 22-year-old is averaging 31.9 disposals per game and also ranks among the game’s elite in contested possessions, clearances and hard-ball gets.

After an injury-interrupted start, Brad is also quietly building towards his best form.

Since Round 10, the former Rising Star runner-up is averaging 28 disposals, and is top-five in the AFL for tackles (8.4) and clearances (7.2).

On Saturday, Brad amassed an equal-game high 30 possessions, six clearances and five inside 50ms, gained 537 metres (behind only Brodie Smith for the game) and laid 10 tackles among a team-leading 29 pressure acts.

Making his 51st AFL appearance, Crouch said he was still developing balance in his game.

“I think I’ve played 10 games in a row now, so I’m starting to feel really strong,” he said.

“I’ve just got to keep working on my outside game … using my legs a little bit more and kicking the ball as much as I can. I want to just keep working on that and not rely too heavily on the inside stuff.”

The Crows headed to the G prepared for a fight against one of the stingiest defences in the AFL.

Adelaide’s score of 13.11 (89) on Saturday was the second-highest since Round Six against the in-form Blues, who beat ladder leader Greater Western Sydney only a few weeks ago.

In the last nine games, only North Melbourne (113) has kicked 100 points or more against the stifling Carlton side.

“We knew it wasn’t going to be the end-to-end ball movement that we’ve done at times,” Crouch said.

“We just tried to find different ways of scoring and I think we did.

“We had to come out and respond after (the loss to Hawthorn) last week, which was really disappointing for us. We knew it was going to be a bit of an arm wrestle, so it’s just good to get the four points.”

The Crows remain in second spot on the AFL ladder heading into Friday night’s clash with reigning premiers, the Western Bulldogs, at Adelaide Oval.