IT'S THE win Adelaide had to have.

Coach Matthew Nicks finally tasted victory after 13 straight defeats and said the 35-point win over Hawthorn would help sell his message to the players that the Crows were on the right track. 

HAWKS v CROWS Full match coverage and stats

Adelaide's aggressive list cull at the end of last season signalled a new, longer-term vision for the club after two woeful years in the wake of its disappointing Grand Final loss in 2017. 

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Highlights: Hawthorn v Adelaide

The Hawks and Crows clash in round 15

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That's brought with it significant on-field pain and plenty of stress off it for Nicks and co. but the coach is confident the tide is turning. 

"I hope what it does is just reaffirm with our players what it's going to take and gives them some confidence," he said. 

"I know what we need to do to win games of footy. I feel like I've been in the game long enough to understand the game well. 

"Our players have been working so hard on a particular system and game plan and we've been able to implement it now for two weeks. 

"We didn't get a result (against Geelong), so it's hard as a coach to convince your players that that's what's going to get it done longer term, so today was just confirming that for our players." 

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Nicks: 'Smiling faces and pride'

Matthew Nicks says the club is over the moon after winning their first game of the season and got reassurance they're 'heading in the right direction'

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Nicks knew what he was getting into when he accepted the role, but said he had questioned himself and the direction he was going as the losses piled up. 

ROUNDS 15-18 Check out the full fixture

The Crows have played a competition-high nine debutants this season, as well as introducing Ben Keays, Ben Crocker and Billy Frampton from other clubs. 

"It's human to question yourself … but I've stuck strong and we've stuck strong as a football department … in what we believe in," Nicks said. 

"We've had close to 10, 11, 12 players who haven't played for the club before who've played this year, so it's going to take time for us to connect that and longer than a normal season, because of where we're at in society (COVID-19). 

"When those doubts creep in here and there, we've all stuck strong and looked at it medium-to-longer term."

00:56 Mins
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Crafty Crow goalsneaks putting on a show

Lively pair Tyson Stengle and Shane McAdam are inspiring their side after two impressive goal involvements

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The Crows had strong contributions from the Crouch brothers, Matt and Brad, Reilly O'Brien, Rory Laird and Brodie Smith, but also fresher faces such as Tyson Stengle, Keays and Shane McAdam. 

There is likely to be more of those fresh faces in the Hawks' future, with losing coach Alastair Clarkson admitting this difficult season had "fast-tracked" the direction they were likely to head.

Hawthorn played seven players aged 22 or younger against Adelaide, and eight of the side had fewer than 50 games' experience. 

Clarkson said he was "quite realistic" about where his team was at and compared its current plight to that of fellow former powerhouse Sydney. 

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Crowd gasps after Crow's hit shatters Glass

Conor Glass is forced to leave the field after being collected by Chayce Jones in a heavy collision

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"Part of it is the cycle of footy, unfortunately," he said. 

"Both us and Sydney have been clubs that haven't wanted to get ourselves into this position on the ladder and, perhaps, if it wouldn't be (but) for the circumstances we're in. 

"We started the season 3-1 and we feel like we're a better side … but what this year has done is, perhaps, fast-tracked our views into where our next piece of silverware is going to come from. 

"We need to give some young guys an opportunity and we're starting to do that, but we just don't have the belief that you throw 10 or 12 young kids to the wolves straight away."

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Clarko: 'We looked flat and lethargic'

Alastair Clarkson ponders over his side's short break, suggesting it could be used as an 'excuse' for why they lacked sharpness

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Clarkson bemoaned how "dead-legged" his players were from the start, and queried whether that was because of the four-day discrepancy in the two clubs' break, in Adelaide's favour. 

THE LADDER Where is your team sitting?

"We're sick of making excuses, but at the same time we know there's a really significant excuse for why we're 1-9 on the road this year," he said. 

Clarkson foreshadowed another "four or five" changes to his squad for Sunday's clash with St Kilda at Metricon Stadium.