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Pyke sees positives in 'finals-style game'

Pyke: 'It's not always about Sloane' Adelaide coach Don Pyke says he's impressed with the even contribution from his players in their win over Carlton
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 01:  Josh Jenkins of the Crows celebrates after kicking a goal during the 2017 AFL round 15 match between the Carlton Blues and the Adelaide Crows at Etihad Stadium on July 01, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/AFL Media)
Josh Jenkins stood up when he was needed for the Crows

ADELAIDE'S ability to grit out a victory on Saturday in a "finals-style game" pleased coach Don Pyke, despite him conceding the Crows were far from perfect. 

Pyke's side won for the first time this year without scoring in triple digits, and had to fight back after losing the lead to Carlton in the final quarter to complete the 12-point success at the MCG.

Full match coverage and stats 

Adelaide provisionally return to the top of the AFL ladder, ahead of Greater Western Sydney's clash with Geelong on Saturday night. 

Pyke was adamant he learned more about his players in Saturday's circumstances than in their series of lopsided triumphs in the early rounds.

Five talking points: Carlton v Adelaide

"That's the beauty of those games. That's sort of a finals-style game, whereby it is contest-to-contest and scoring is hard," he said.

"We'll certainly be able to learn from that game, in terms of the style and some of the things we did well. I thought we made some improvements in some of our areas, even from last week's game – and we'll keep working on that." 

The Crows' Crouch brothers, Matt and Brad, won 59 possessions between them, including 22 in the seesawing fourth term. Matt Crouch's superb finish nearing time-on, after a slick handball from a grounded Hugh Greenwood, gave the visitors the impetus to hold off the Blues. 

Power forward Josh Jenkins, who Pyke dropped to the SANFL in round nine, also stood up late with a long-range goal – his third – to extend Adelaide's buffer.

Jenkins added 12 tackles, double as many as he has ever had in one match in his six-season career. 

"He's building. There were some really good signs from Josh today," Pyke said. 

"Obviously, he hit the scoreboard for us, (but) he tackled really well. I think he had 10 or 12 tackles and those are the things we're wanting him to add to his game on a consistent basis. 

"It's like a lot of our players … they're building careers and it doesn't happen overnight." 

The Crows remain an enigma in a competition hailed for its evenness, with their best football possibly as good as any club.

But Pyke has heard the external commentary that rivals have figured out how to play against them, an opinion heightened by Adelaide's 4-4 record in the past eight rounds. 

The suggestion is the Crows are gettable if teams keep them to double-digit scoring and curb No.1 midfielder Rory Sloane. Sam Kerridge restricted Sloane to fewer than 20 touches for the fourth time in the last two months.

WATCH: Don Pyke's full post-match media conference

"It's one of those things. We started the season so well (and) when we were 6-0, we were playing some really strong footy and we were scoring heavily," Pyke said.

"It was to be expected (that teams would put more time into us). People don't let you have it all your own way the whole time. 

"Our consistency through the last month has been up and down and we've been challenged in certain games and certain sides have played a different way against us, so we've had to learn. And that's us as coaches, as well as players, and we've had to educate. 

"Are we through that (period)? I don't know, because we have Friday night (to come) and we have the Bulldogs and we have another big challenge."