Craig shattered by Crows loss to Hawks - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Craig shattered by Crows loss to Hawks

By Daniel Brettig 15/06/2008 02:31:49 PM Comments (0)

Adelaide coach Neil Craig looked a shattered man following his side's four point AFL loss to Hawthorn.

So much so that during his four years as Crows boss it is difficult to recall him ever being quite so ashen-faced in the aftermath of defeat.

Craig's expression told much the same story as the game day statistics, which chronicle a match the Crows should have won.

They are unlikely to get a better opportunity to beat the Hawks for quite some time.

Adelaide had more disposals, more inside 50m entries, more clearances, more marks, more free kicks and much, much more time in possession of the lead.

They also had a team plan that succeeded in slowing the Hawks down while also limiting the attacking effectiveness of Lance Franklin, despite his somewhat misleading return of 1.6 - many of those shots taken from wide angles under pressure.

But the things the Crows lacked were the sorts of qualities that separate good sides from great ones and competitors from winners.

"There was real finals type pressure from both sides and once again we learn from it that you've just got to take your chances at crucial times in those really tight games and they were just a bit better than us on the night," Craig said.

"Our effort this week against Hawthorn compared to the one in Launceston in round four was like chalk and cheese.

"But when the crunch really came, there were just a couple of things we couldn't do and, until we tidy that up, they will continue to get us."

When it mattered most, Hawthorn's stars - Luke Hodge, Sam Mitchell, Jarryd Roughead and makeshift midfielder Franklin - stood up and won the game, while Adelaide's faded ever so slightly into the background.

Skipper Simon Goodwin will be in mental agony for much of this week replaying his wayward shot when running into an open goal early in the last, and Nathan Bock too will ponder the dropped mark that led to Hodge's match-clinching goal.

The other thing Adelaide had less of was bench rotations.

A pair of injuries, Brent Reilly's pre-match adductor strain and Nathan Bassett's first quarter neck problem, left Adelaide two runners short, and Craig acknowledged it was a tired team that failed to successfully man up when Hawthorn iced the clock in the closing minutes.

In a way it was similar to the problems Adelaide faced in 2005 and 2006 against West Coast, when the Eagles' extra little bit of brilliance and running power repeatedly left the Crows a goal or two short of victory.

Having won each of their past three meetings, perhaps the Hawks have replaced the Eagles as the top drawer team Adelaide cannot quite match.

Hawks coach Alistair Clarkson said the composure of his side's leaders had been pivotal.

"That's when you really need your leaders standing up for you - Mitchell, Hodge, (Campbell) Brown in particular in the latter part of the game, they were just outstanding," he said.

"To have that composure late in the game from your leaders is really important."

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