Adelaide coach Don Pyke says his side’s 29-point loss to West Coast won’t be cause for panic despite meaning the Crows could miss out on a top-four AFL finish.
After piling on a series of thumping wins at their Adelaide Oval fortress, the Crows crumbled under the pressure of a Friday night game with plenty at stake.
With star Rory Sloane suspended, Adelaide’s midfielders were soundly beaten at the contest and struggled to supply their potent forward line, kicking four goals in the second half.
The loss means Adelaide could finish as low as fifth, and a home qualifying final will be achieved only if there are upsets in at least two other games.
Pyke described the loss as disappointing but denied that the absence of Sloane or the fallout from a racist attack on forward Eddie Betts had influenced his side’s performance.
“We’ll review the game in terms of ‘what have we learnt’ and ‘what do we need to keep getting better at’ but we won’t be jumping at shadows here in terms of looking for other ulterior reasons and so forth,” Pyke said.
“We believe we’re a good footy team and we intend to prove that come the finals time.”
The Crows paid the price for some uncharacteristically poor ball use which allowed Eagles defenders Jeremy McGovern and Tom Barrass to combine for 16 marks.
Pyke considered putting a tag on West Coast wingman Andrew Gaff, who followed up a 38-disposal game against Hawthorn with a career-best 41 touches, but ultimately chose to stick with his gameplan.
“There were some fundamentals of how we were playing which we weren’t executing well on, and rather than just try and reach in and pull a rabbit out of the hat, it was more ‘let’s return to the way we’ve been playing and back our guys in’,” Pyke said.
“Unfortunately tonight we didn’t get the result.”
The Crows will welcome back Sloane for their first final, while influential defender Brodie Smith is set to return after suffering a concussion in round 22.