If you’re an Adelaide Crows fan, you would be taking some comfort in knowing that the players you are barracking for are being hit just as hard by the side’s current string of losses.
The high expectations brought about by three wins from the first four rounds of the season are shared by your players.
And, according to coach Matthew Nicks, the Crows are desperate to return to the winners’ list.
While some teams are being criticised by fans for being too upbeat after losses – not caring – Nicks said his side was left dejected in the Optus Stadium change rooms on Sunday after a 30-point loss to West Coast.
It was the Crows’ fifth loss on the trot, but they were in the game right up to their eyeballs.
They clearly lacked the experience and the polish to make the most of their chances.
The past three losses have been against teams either in the top eight (Eagles and Port Adelaide), or knocking on its door (Greater Western Sydney), but the players are taking the results personally.
Nicks said the lessons are being learned.
“We’re getting lessons now, it’s been a month of lessons,” he said.
“That’s going to make our group better. We’re a very young group; we debuted another one today (Ronin O’Connor).
“But we sit here with a reasonably dejected change rooms, where young players are learning the hard way.
“It was a disappointing game in the end, but a real positive game in terms of when we had the game in the fight, at times, we looked super competitive.”
Nicks took over as Adelaide’s coach in 2020. (Photo by Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
The Crows led by seven points midway through the second term before Jack Darling went on a romp and kicked five quick goals to end the quarter.
What hurt every Crows player more was they had shots on goals, before Darling emerged a match winner, that would have taken them even further ahead.
Scoreboard pressure is key in AFL football and the Crows failed to land it.
They won more contested possessions than the Eagles and had the ball in their forward line more than West Coast did.
Even though the Eagles led by 29 points at the main break, the Crows fought back and had a chance late to get the margin back to within three goals.
Missing a snapped shot from 10m out didn’t help morale.
That five-goal loss comes after defeats to Port (29 points), the Giants (35), Hawthorn (28) and Fremantle (2).
They still have to face top side Melbourne next week, Richmond (Round 11), Collingwood (Round 12) and St Kilda (Round 13) before their bye.
The Crows should welcome back Taylor Walker and Ned McHenry to bolster their forward line against the Demons.
Walker was rested for the trip west and McHenry will need to pass concession tests during the week before being cleared to play.
“At the moment we have a really tough run of opponents. and every time you drop away for five or 10 minutes you are going to get punished,” Nicks said.
“And that happened today (against the Eagles).
“The expectations are high. They get to where they are at because of who they have been as junior footballers. We don’t come here to finish second, we come to win and today we had chances to do that.
“The group is invested in what we’re doing.
“They want to get themselves back to the winners’ board.”
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