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Crows bonded by bad times

Lee Gaskin, AFL Media  September 23, 2017 1:34 AM

AFL 2017 First Preliminary Final - Adelaide v Geelong

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 22: Rory Sloane of the Crows (left) hugs Eddie Betts of the Crows during the 2017 AFL First Preliminary Final match between the Adelaide Crows and the Geelong Cats at Adelaide Oval on September 22, 2017 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)

The feeling halfway through that last quarter was indescribable

Adelaide star Rory Sloane says the club's tumultuous recent history has strengthened the bond between the Crows players.

The Crows are in the Grand Final for the first time since 1998 after a comprehensive 61-point preliminary final defeat of Geelong at Adelaide Oval on Friday night.

"The feeling halfway through that last quarter was indescribable," Sloane said.

"I've played nine years of footy and some guys have played longer and there are guys on our list who have missed out over the years as well, who I certainly feel for.

"These opportunities don't come around very often, so we'll certainly make the most of it."

The Crows have kept the core of their list together, with the majority having been at the club during the death of former coach Phil Walsh in 2015.

"We've obviously been through some tough times over a few years, but every team has got a story as well," Sloane said.

"We're not the only one that has got a story like that.

"We've had some hard times, but we've come out far better for it.

"We're certainly a much tighter group."

Sloane gave credit to senior coach Don Pyke – who took over at the start of the 2016 season – for helping to get the best out of the players.

The Crows burst out of the gates with six goals to one in a blistering first quarter, dispelling any fears they would be rusty after two games in a month.

"We had to bring the pressure and I thought our pressure has been outstanding the last couple of weeks," Sloane said.

"I was proud of how we brought the energy and heat."

Sloane was responsible for one of the game's pivotal moments: a huge hit on former teammate Patrick Dangerfield near the end of the second quarter that left the Brownlow medallist motionless on the ground for several seconds.

"That hurt," Sloane said of the bone-shaking collision.

"I did my best to stand up, but he's got such a strong body.

"He's such an unbelievable player and I'm such great mates with him. I respect him so much and I love the way he goes about it and I feel for him now.

"We both went in and that's the way we both play our footy and that's what I love about his footy, too."

Sloane said the Crows' players would be keen viewers of the other preliminary final between Richmond and Greater Western Sydney on Saturday to determine their Grand Final opponent.