Hardened Crows readying for AFL finals

Adelaide coach Don Pyke says his side will go into the AFL finals battle-hardened after a bruising 15-point win over rivals Port Adelaide.

The Crows withstood a late surge from Port to claim a 15.19 (109) to 14.10 (94) win at Adelaide Oval and climb to second on the ladder.

Both sides had predicted Saturday’s Showdown would be a fierce encounter despite the distance between the Crows and 11th-placed Power on the ladder.

The game lived up to the hype and in the end it was only Adelaide’s potent forward line that proved the difference, with late goals to Josh Jenkins, Mitch McGovern and Eddie Betts sealing the win.

It was a far cry from the Crows’ three previous outings – against Fremantle, Brisbane and Essendon – which they won by a combined 292 points.

With Adelaide facing a six-day break before a final-round clash with West Coast on Friday, Pyke said he was pleased to see his players physically tested.

“For us it was, in some respects, a really good game to have based on the previous three games which have been comfortable wins,” he said.

“Tonight’s game and next week’s game will give us a really good lead-in (to the finals).”

West Coast have been in hot form, dispatching of premiership contenders Hawthorn and Greater Western Sydney in successive weeks, but will go into the clash at Adelaide Oval without star ruckman Nic Naitanui after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament.

Pyke, who was an assistant coach with the Eagles before taking a senior role with Adelaide this year, said he was sad to see Naitanui injured.

“I know having worked with Nic the last couple of years he’s a terrific guy, and it’s always disappointing when you see the best players in the league get injured,” Pyke said.

“Clearly it’s going to be a big out for West Coast but he was out for a number of weeks in the middle of the season so I expect they’ll adjust around that with (Scott) Lycett or they’ll bring (Jonathan) Giles in.”

Crows defender Brodie Smith, who was concussed after copping an accidental foot to the head from Port’s Aaron Young, will be assessed during the week, Pyke said.

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