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Pyke pleased with positive change

Katrina Gill  July 22, 2017 6:36 PM

Don Pyke Post-Match: R18 Don Pyke speaks to the media following the Crows victory over the Cats on Friday night at Adelaide Oval.
If you continue to do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got

Coach Don Pyke says Adelaide recognised the need for change after a disappointing loss to Geelong in Round 11.

The 22-point defeat at Simonds Stadium was the Club’s fifth straight (third under Pyke) against the Cats.

On Friday night, the Crows reversed the result from earlier in the season, putting in a physical and relentless performance to record an important 21-point win.

“If you continue to do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got,” Pyke said.

“We recognised the need to do something slightly different in various phases of the game tonight.

“That’s what we engaged the playing group on. They bought in and executed it really well.”

In previous encounters between the teams, Geelong won the midfield battle and was able stifle the damaging Crows ball movement, minimising the impact of their potent attack.

Pyke and his coaching group moved to address the midfield issue by sending Riley Knight to Cats captain Joel Selwood, who amassed 35 possessions, nine clearances and a goal to lead his team to victory earlier this season.

Selwood still collected 26 disposals on Friday night, but his impact on the game wasn’t as significant.

The move of Knight into the midfield also flipped regular onballer Richard Douglas into the forward line, where he chimed in with a career-best four goals.

The Crows won the contested possession (154 – 145) and dominated clearances 47 – 27, allowing them to attack from the forward half and not giving the Cats as much time to set up defensively.

Adelaide’s performance was under-pinned by fierce pressure at the contest.

This was reflected on the stats sheet where Geelong’s top three ball winners, Selwood, Patrick Dangerfield and Mitch Duncan, all recorded more handballs than kicks as they were forced to release quickly.

“Last week against Melbourne we set a really high standard (with our pressure),” Pyke said.

“We understand that’s what is required against the best teams, to do that consistently because that’s what enables you to stay in the contest.

“I thought both teams’ pressure tonight was fantastic. You could see that from the inside 50m numbers – I don’t think either side had over 50 inside 50ms.

“It was a hot ball and there was pressure on around the place. To our guys’ credit, they were able to withstand that and when we got our opportunities (we were able to) take them.”

The Crows, whose physicality and aggression has been questioned externally, also appeared to play with a hard edge. Pyke said that approach had been driven by the players.

“I think it’s just part of the evolution of the group,” he said.

“We learned some things out of some games earlier (in the season) where we were probably challenged in that area. Clearly, it’s the space the players want to play in.

“At times, we were closer to the line, but that’s what the game requires.”

After being concussed last weekend, Rory Sloane was back to his very best against Geelong.

Sloane, who was well held by Scott Selwood last time the teams met, gathered 28 disposals, seven clearances, seven tackles and kicked three goals to be best-afield.

“It was fantastic from Sloaney. He’s one of our leaders and he led from the front,” Pyke said.

“He came out of last week’s concussion really well, surprisingly well to be honest.

“He trained fully during the week and never really gave any sign that he wasn’t going to be right.

“He passed all the tests and to play that way tonight shows great leadership.”

The impressive win gives the top-of-the-table Crows a six-point buffer over the second-placed Cats.

Greater Western Sydney has a chance to claim second spot with a win over Richmond on Sunday.

Pyke said he was “super proud” of his team’s ability to stand up in a crucial game for the Club.

“We spoke about it earlier in the week, (about) the opportunity to play first versus second, on a Friday night at home and get 50,000-plus members turn up to watch,” he said.

“I would hope our fans and supporters who watched at home or came to the game would be proud of their team tonight and how they played.

“What we’ve been able to do tonight is show that we’ve improved since last time we played Geelong. Does it mean we haven’t got any more room for improvement?

“No, but it was certainly a really positive result for our group.”