ADELAIDE coach Matthew Nicks has implored his side to get mentally tougher, after admitting his players looked "rattled" in the final stages of the game against Hawthorn in Launceston on Sunday.

The Crows led by 32 points in the third quarter, but could not withstand a fierce Hawthorn comeback, eventually going down by three points.

HAWKS v CROWS Full match coverage and stats

Nicks said post-game it was "a really disappointing last quarter", with the Crows missing several chances in the final term to steal victory.

"They took a hold of the game in that second half and we weren’t able to stem the bleeding [from about] 10 minutes into that last quarter," Nicks said.

"Unfortunately we looked a little bit rattled … We need to be mentally stronger in that period of time. 

"We allowed them to intercept the ball – I think they had eight intercept marks – we weren’t competing … we dropped away unfortunately and it cost us the game."

07:19 Mins
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Nicks: 'We looked a bit rattled' in the last quarter

Matthew Nicks said his team needed to be mentally stronger as the Hawks closed the gap

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A major positive for the Crows was the incredible performance of Riley Thilthorpe, who became the first player to kick five goals in their AFL debut since 2003. 

Nicks said it was an exciting display from last year’s No.2 draft pick.

"It’s a credit to him. He’s a hard worker, he’s professional. I thought he played a really important role for us at times during the game," he said.

"When the team was playing the way we want to play, he’s got the ability to stand up.

"It’s a really exciting thing for our footy club to have such a professional footballer starting out his career and performing the way he did today."

07:21 Mins
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Clarkson: 'There's nothing like a win to lift your spirits'

Alastair Clarkson was proud of his team's 'grit' for hanging in and grinding out a victory

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Nicks said the challenge for the youngster would be backing up his debut with consistent performances from week to week.

"It’s a [23] round season and already across the league there’s a fair bit of fatigue and a lot of injuries this year," he said.

"So that’s the challenge that we’re going to face. And Riley’s going to face that. We’ll have to look at how we manage him through the year."

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson praised the resilience of his side to come back despite conceding six unanswered goals in the second term to trail by 25 points at the main break.

He said there were some encouraging signs from his players, while acknowledging the team’s youth would mean there would continue to be fluctuations both within games and from week to week.

"There’s nothing like a win to just lift your spirits a little bit when you come into training during the week," Clarkson said.

"We were kicking against a slight breeze in the last quarter and it was 20 inside 50s to us [and] 10 to them.

"So we’re really pleased with the grit of the players to just hang in there and chip away and slowly get themselves back in the game.

"It took us a fair while to do it, but we finally got there in the end."

Clarkson said veteran Shaun Burgoyne would get his ankle assessed during the week, but was highly doubtful for the Hawks’ clash with St Kilda next Saturday.