Josh Rachele, Rory Laird and Izak Rankine look dejected after Adelaide's loss to Essendon at Marvel Stadium in round 17, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

ADELAIDE coach Matthew Nicks concedes criticism of his side's away form is valid but believes it will turn quickly after slipping outside of the top eight following Sunday's three-goal loss to Essendon at Marvel Stadium.

The Crows were consigned to their sixth loss from seven away games in the 2023 AFL season after being blown away by Essendon's 12-goal first half where the visitors trailed by 37 points at half-time.

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Nicks was pleased that his side rallied in the second half after giving his players a spray at quarter-time, claiming they failed to execute their gameplan, offering Essendon the early ascendancy.

The Adelaide coach wasn't hiding away from their poor away form either, particularly with the race for finals spots heating up, with their lack of road victories impacting their chances, and with tough trips to face Melbourne and Brisbane still to come.

The Crows' only away win this year came in round six against 16th-placed Hawthorn in Launceston, although they came close to toppling ladder-leader Collingwood at the MCG a fortnight ago, losing by two points. Sunday's loss to Essendon means they are 1-6 away from Adelaide Oval this year.

"I can't deny that there's an issue there when we play away," Nicks said.

"We played Collingwood at the MCG and we brought an outstanding performance but there is a trend there that we've already looked into and we'll continue to try and improve.

"These things turn quickly. I'm confident that will click. Away form will click. We thought our last effort was a really strong one against Collingwood. This week unfortunately just drops us back. The commentary is valid."


Nicks added that they were proactively looking into ways to address their alarming away form.

"There's a number of different things we've looked at," he said. "We've turned it upside down trying to find out what it is.

"I've worked with enough teams and we've got experienced people around the footy club that have seen it before. It can click really fast. It comes with youth. When you're performing at home in front of a big crowd it's an environment that you're used to and you train on that deck, the support is there, you get used to that.

"Whereas when you're playing away, we've got guys who've not played at Marvel, last week we had a couple who hadn't played at the MCG. Those are some of the challenges but we're not here to make excuses.

"Today wasn't about the fact we hadn't played a lot of footy at Marvel, it was clear we came with a certain plan and didn't execute it."


While Adelaide slipped to ninth, Essendon rose to fifth, although Bombers coach Brad Scott still declined to feed into finals hype.

"I don't think I need to speak about it because it's pretty obvious for everyone, players included," Scott said about finals.

"When I talk about excitement into the future, I just think about our room for improvement. I think we're playing some pretty competitive footy but it's far from perfect. I get excited about putting the pieces together and getting better.

"We want our supporters to get excited but the players have just got to focus on the task at hand. The third quarter got away from us there, I think that's a good lesson, not to look too far into the future."


Scott said Jordan Ridley would undergo scans on the knee injury that forced him to be subbed out of the game in the third quarter despite trying to play on, while he revealed Mason Redman spent time off in the third quarter for assessment on a hamstring tendonitis issue but should be fine.

The Dons coach said ruckman Sam Draper would need to return to full training after a hip injury this week to be available for next Saturday night's clash with eighth-placed Geelong which he felt was unlikely, which could be an issue if fellow tall Andrew Phillips is suspended for a late head-high bump on Reilly O'Brien.


Scott added that he was thrilled with the selection pressure within the squad, with the form of Ben Hobbs (20 disposals and a goal) and Jye Caldwell (20 disposals and eight tackles) keeping sub Dylan Shiel out of the 22.

Fellow midfielder Will Setterfield is closing in on a return from a foot injury, adding to those dilemmas, which had Scott referencing Australian all-rounder Mitch Marsh following his Ashes century.

"We want our boys to take some inspiration from Mitch Marsh," he said. "It's a squad mentality. You don’t know when you're going to be needed.

"Mitch Marsh has been an understudy to Cameron Green for a long time. He gets his opportunity and that's taking your opportunity. Hobbsy did that, Jye Menzie has done that. We're going to have some good challenges. That's what good teams have."