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Pyke praises steely 'resolve'

Lee Gaskin, AFL Media  July 8, 2017 12:30 AM

Don Pyke Post-Match: R16 Hear from Senior Coach Don Pyke following a big win over the Western Bulldogs at Adelaide Oval
Tonight at half-time, there was a real resolve within the group

Even when they were second on the ladder with 10 wins from 14 games, the asterix over Adelaide was how they stood up under pressure.

The Crows were smashed against North Melbourne. They crumbled against Melbourne. Hawthorn closed down their run.

But on Friday night, in wet and slippery conditions, they stood up to the challenge of the Western Bulldogs.

After leading by just three points at half-time, the Crows booted 11 goals to one in the second half to charge home by 59 points.

Sure, the reigning premiers aren't in the sort of dynamic form that saw them go on a fairytale run to the flag last year.

However, it's still an important step for a Crows' side that is aiming for the club's first premiership since 1998.

"That's the evolution, that is how the group is developing and the lessons learned," Crows coach Don Pyke said.

"That was one of them through that period, to respond when challenged.

"Tonight at half-time, there was a real resolve within the group.

"Last time we played at home against Hawthorn, we didn't have a good second half and we own that.

"Tonight, we were able to turn that around."

Captain Taylor Walker and Josh Jenkins both arguably had their most influential games of the season.

Not only did the key forwards boot seven goals between them, but they dominated the aerial contests inside the Crows' forward 50.

"It was not so much the lack of height (of the Bulldogs' defenders), we know we've got some powerful and strong forwards," Pyke said.

"If we can get the ball in there quickly to some one on ones, they are capable of taking some catches.

"Walker and Jenkins were very good in that space and I thought the captain was front and centre.

"I thought his impact on the game for the whole night was substantial."

Walker sustained an eye injury late in the match and was assessed by the club's doctors.

The Crows successfully nullified Bulldogs running defender Jason Johannisen.

Last year's Norm Smith Medallist had just 16 disposals, with Riley Knight given the tagging role.

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

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

"It certainly wasn't a hard tag, it was something we thought we could put some time into but also get some benefit from Riley, who I thought played his role really well."

The Crows are set to welcome back midfielder Hugh Greenwood for next Saturday night's clash with Melbourne at TIO Stadium in Darwin.

The 25-year-old was rested after playing six straight senior games in his second season of football since switching from basketball.