Crows coach pinpoints AFL weakness

Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks is pinpointing one glaring weakness in his winless AFL season.

The Crows host Essendon on Sunday at Adelaide Oval ranked last in many facets – on the ladder, points scored, disposals, to name a new.

But arguably their most damaging deficiency is centre clearances.

The Crows win, on average, just 6.1 centre clerances a game – almost half that of the league-best West Coast.

The lowly statistic is a recurring problem for Nicks in Adelaide’s worst-ever start to a season and a club-record losing streak of 10 defeats, across two seasons.

“It’s an area that is really hurting us,” Nicks said of centre clearances.

“We are way off in that stat and it’s a really important one because everything starts from there.

“So we have been looking hard at that, both from a system point of view but also mindset.”

Nicks conceded his lead ruckman Reilly O’Brien won’t win the tap at centre bounces against the competition’s premier rucks.

“There is a reality to the fact that, with all respect to Reilly, we’re probably not going to get first hands on that ball,” he said.

“Your mindset has to be in a slightly different position to run and work.”

So Nicks planned tweaks to Adelaide’s midfield structures against the 10th-placed Bombers, who rank fifth-best for centre clearances.

And he also recognised a need to stifle Essendon’s speed.

“Their halfback line – (Orazio) Fantasia, (Adam) Saad – they’re super-talented, leg speed, ball use, they are quite attacking,” he said.

“Through midfield they have got some real runners there.

“It looks like they have really been taking the game on and attacking with a bit of forward handball, it looks a bit like Richmond at times.

“It’s a big challenge for us because we haven’t really got it done in the midfield so far this year.

“We have been exposed in there from some oppositions who have taken the game from us and sent us into our back half which has made it a challenge.”





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