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A hard day's Knight

Katrina Gill  July 8, 2017 1:19 PM

Riley Knight Post-Match: R16 Riley Knight speaks to AFC media after a tough win against the Western Bulldogs at the Adelaide Oval.
I pretty much followed him wherever he went and tried to test him out the other way

Adelaide forward Riley Knight showed another side to his game on Friday night with a defensive role on Western Bulldogs playmaker Jason Johannisen.

Recognising the success other clubs have experienced in shutting down Johannisen, the Crows coaches assigned Knight the job on the reigning Norm Smith Medallist.

As coach Don Pyke acknowledged post-game, it wasn’t a “hard tag” with the 22-year-old encouraged to hit the scoreboard while also applying pressure.

The hard-running Crow delivered on the brief, gathering 15 possessions at 93 per cent efficiency and taking seven marks.

He kicked a goal and assisted in two others, including a clever tap to Eddie Betts in the third quarter, and showed physicality with nine forward zone pressure acts – the equal-most of any player on the ground.

His opponent Johannisen finished with 16 disposals and four rebound 50ms.

“If he (Johannisen) was playing down back, I pretty much followed him wherever he went and tried to test him out the other way,” Knight said.

“I got on the end of a nice goal, which was good, and that was really the main role for me tonight.”

Pyke praised Knight for playing his part in an even performance from Adelaide.

“It was interesting the way it turned out because clearly Johannisen wanted to get to (Eddie) Betts, so there was a bit of a merry-go-round there for a little bit,” Pyke said.

“Overall, I felt comfortable in the way that was being played out.”

After a tight first half in wet conditions, the Crows piled on 11 goals to the wasteful visitors’ one after the main break to record a 59-point win.

Adelaide’s attack was underpinned by strong contest work and defence. Despite being in front for most of the game, the Crows won the tackle count 84 – 75.

Knight said his team had taken confidence from a hard-fought win over Carlton at the MCG last week.

“We’ve been challenged by ‘Pykey’ over the last few weeks, that when we do get challenged in games we just have to find a way to win,” he said.

“We knew it was going to be an arm wrestle tonight because of the conditions. It was just trying to test out how long they were going to be in the arm wrestle for.

“We knew that if we just kept at it, and kept at it we might be able to break the game open. In the second half, we really did that. 

"We got some ball movement going and opened it up from there.”

Adelaide’s aerial work against the undersized Dogs was also a feature on Friday night.

Led by key forwards Taylor Walker and Josh Jenkins, and the two ‘Jakes’ – Lever and Kelly – in defence, the Crows took 20 contested marks to the Bulldogs’ four.

Jenkins (four) and Walker (three) combined for seven goals, with the Crows captain becoming just the second player behind Betts to kick 100 goals at the redeveloped Adelaide Oval.

“It gives great confidence to the smaller guys … we know that if we kick it long to them (Walker and Jenkins), they’re a great chance to mark it and if not they’ll bring it to ground and we can still score,” Knight said.

“Their second and third efforts in the last month or so have been really good. They’re starting to lead from the front, which is what we want from our big guys.”

Known for his exuberant goal celebrations, Knight got caught up in the moment after converting a neat shot in the second half on Friday night.

The 21-gamer, who kicked the sealer last week, repeated fist pumping resulted in an “accidental chainsaw” motion.

“Look, that’s the first goal I’ve kicked outside the goal square so I had to give it a little bit!” he laughed.

“I didn’t even realise I did it, but then I saw the vision and, yeah, it was a chainsaw!

“We’ll put that one (celebration) away.”

Two of Adelaide’s last three home games have now been affected by rain.

Knight lauded the 42,000 members and supporters who turned out at Adelaide oval on Friday night.

“It was great to see heaps of people here braving the conditions,” he said.

“A huge ‘thank you’ to all the fans that came out and supported us.

“There’s nothing like playing here in front of 40 – 50,000 every week.”

Adelaide will now prepare to take on Melbourne in the Northern Territory on Saturday night.

Like most of his teammates, Knight has never played in Darwin and is looking forward to the experience.

“Hopefully, I’ll get another opportunity next week to hold my spot. It's another great challenge next week,” he said.

“The Dees knocked us off here a couple of weeks ago, so hopefully we can go up there and get the job done.”