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Crows coach Don Pyke praises efforts of co-captain Taylor Walker

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 27: Don Pyke, Senior Coach of the Crows addresses his players during the 2019 AFL round 06 match between the St Kilda Saints and the Adelaide Crows at Marvel Stadium on April 27, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 27: Don Pyke, Senior Coach of the Crows addresses his players during the 2019 AFL round 06 match between the St Kilda Saints and the Adelaide Crows at Marvel Stadium on April 27, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos)

It should come as no surprise that Adelaide's resurgence over the past fortnight has coincided with the return to form of co-captain Taylor Walker, coach Don Pyke says.

Walker was in great touch against St Kilda at Marvel Stadium on Saturday evening as he booted four goals in a dominant performance that helped the Crows pick up their third win of the season.

Walker now has seven goals from his past two appearances and Pyke issued a warning to the rest of the competition by declaring the 29-year-old was back to his powerful best.

 "Three weeks ago, I saw signs against North Melbourne that he was probably getting there and last week and again this week he has taken the next step," Pyke said after the 29-point victory.

"(He has) that real powerful presence in our forward line and the way he is moving now it makes him difficult to defend.

"He has done the work and it is great to see him back playing that way."

 

Pyke said a strong pre-season was the main reason behind Walker's recent resurgence and the hamstring injuries the key forward struggled with last year now appear a thing of the past.

"You have to remember that last year he had an injury-interrupted year both through the pre-season and in the season," Pyke said.

"He had a great pre-season (this year) and it was probably him just trusting, building and continuing to work on those things that make him a real powerful player."

Walker wasn't the only Crow to impress against the Saints, with Alex Keath (career-best 21 disposals and 14 marks) and Elliot Himmelberg (two goals) winning special praise from Pyke following standout performances at either end of the ground.

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But it was the work of their onballers at the coalface that stood out for Pyke, with the Crows' 40-28 edge in clearances the most pleasing aspect for the fourth-year coach.

"Contested numbers were really turned around and I think we were plus-20 in the end, so that was a standout for me,” Pyke said.

"The ability to absorb it and then actually be able to bring it back and actually ask them a question, our guys were really outstanding in that space." 

Despite the welcome return to form, Pyke knows there is still plenty of work required if the Crows are to make up for last year's season and qualify for the finals in 2019.

"The players' headspace they are in right now is very different to how it was two weeks ago," Pyke said.

"But it just gets us back to level, so we have got to keep winning games of footy and that's our challenge and our opportunity going forward."