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Big finish another step in Crow 'evolution'

Full post-match: Crows Watch Adelaide's press conference after round 16's match against Western Bulldogs
ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 07: Taylor Walker and Eddie Betts of the Crows celebrate a goal during the 2017 AFL round 16 match between the Adelaide Crows and the Western Bulldogs at the Adelaide Oval on July 07, 2017 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Media)
Taylor Walker and Eddie Betts celebrate a goal on Friday night
Tonight at half-time, there was a real resolve within the group
Don Pyke

EVEN when they were second on the ladder with 10 wins from 14 games, the asterisk over Adelaide was how they stood up under pressure.

The Crows were smashed against North Melbourne. They crumbled against Melbourne. Hawthorn closed down their run.

But on Friday night, in wet and slippery conditions, they stood up to the challenge of the Western Bulldogs.

Full match coverage and stats

After leading by just three points at half-time, the Crows booted 11 goals to one in the second half to charge home by 59 points.

Sure, the reigning premiers aren't in the sort of dynamic form that saw them go on a fairytale run to the flag last year.

However, it's still an important step for a Crows' side that is aiming for the club's first premiership since 1998.

"That's the evolution, that is how the group is developing and the lessons learned," Crows coach Don Pyke said.

"That was one of them through that period, to respond when challenged.

"Tonight at half-time, there was a real resolve within the group.

"Last time we played at home against Hawthorn, we didn't have a good second half and we own that.

"Tonight, we were able to turn that around." 

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Captain Taylor Walker and Josh Jenkins both arguably had their most influential games of the season.

Not only did the key forwards boot seven goals between them, but they dominated the aerial contests inside the Crows' forward 50.

"It was not so much the lack of height (of the Bulldogs' defenders), we know we've got some powerful and strong forwards," Pyke said.

"If we can get the ball in there quickly to some one on ones, they are capable of taking some catches.

 

"Walker and Jenkins were very good in that space and I thought the captain was front and centre.

"I thought his impact on the game for the whole night was substantial."

Walker sustained an eye injury late in the match and was assessed by the club's doctors.

WATCH: Don Pyke's full media conference

The Crows successfully nullified Bulldogs running defender Jason Johannisen.

Last year's Norm Smith Medallist had just 16 disposals, with Riley Knight given the tagging role.

"It was interesting the way it turned out, because Johannisen clearly wanted to get to (Eddie) Betts, so there was a bit of a merry-go-round there," Pyke said.

"Overall, I felt comfortable in the way that was being played out.

"It certainly wasn't a hard tag, it was something we thought we could put some time into but also get some benefit from Riley, who I thought played his role really well."

Five talking points: Adelaide v Western Bulldogs

The Crows are set to welcome back midfielder Hugh Greenwood for next Saturday night's clash with Melbourne at TIO Stadium in Darwin.

The 25-year-old was rested after playing six straight senior games in his second season of football since switching from basketball.

Greenwood's inclusion is set to come at the expense of veteran Scott Thompson, the 34-year-old having just 10 disposals in his first game of the season.