Frustrated Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks has dismissed the notion that the AFL investigation into his players’ breach of Covid protocols and the league’s subsequent heavy fine had any bearing on Saturday’s shock loss to Collingwood.
The understrength Pies blitzed Adelaide early then came from behind late to score a 12.6 (78) to 10.13 (73) win at Adelaide Oval.
The Crows were fined $50,000 by the AFL just hours before the match got underway after some players and officials were found to have not complied with face mask protocols on a commercial flight back from Sydney last Sunday.
Nicks was emphatic when asked if the controversy had been a distraction for his players.
“None whatsoever,” the coach replied.
“We didn’t get it right to start the game and we’re extremely frustrated that we weren’t able to get the result.”
Nicks also slapped away claims the incident was another blot on the copybook of a club that has been accused of having a poor culture in the past.
“We are big on our character and the people we have in the footy club, but we made a mistake,” he said.
“We got it wrong in this instance.
“So we put our hands up for that, but it doesn’t come back to people having poor character or our culture being poor.
“It’s an error that we’ve made and we have to be better than that.
“We apologise to the people on the flight and we’ll continue to try to do our best … unfortunately this is one we got wrong.”
Nicks was left to lament poor decision-making and diabolical skill errors early and a lack of structure late that saw his side slump to their seventh loss in eight matches.
“In a way it’s one we gave away in the end with all respect to Collingwood,” he said.
“It was a great win for them but we gave them the ball back over and over.
“To get it wrong at the end of the game and completely lose our structure when the game was on the line was so frustrating.
“We sat around post-game and had quite a lengthy review, but we’re extremely disappointed again unfortunately.
“There are some positives there and some growth we’re seeing but it’s not acceptable to come out like we did to start the game.”
The Crows put up a strong fight but couldn’t get the four points on Saturday. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
Six of one
Nathan Buckley has hailed the impact of six-goal hero Jamie Elliott after the star forward fired Collingwood to a stunning five-point win over Adelaide in his first game back from a long injury lay-off.
After a week of boardroom ructions and criticism of their dour play in the round 11 loss to Geelong, the Magpies pulled off a daring interstate raid and returned to Victoria with their third win of the season after spending roughly 12 hours on the ground in Adelaide.
The Pies had won just one game since Elliott went down with a broken leg in round two, but the unfancied visitors shocked the Crows on their home deck, with Elliott pivotal in an opening-term blitz that helped set up Saturday’s 12.6 (78) to 10.13 (73) win.
Buckley had bemoaned a lack of connection between his midfield and forwards as the losses mounted, but Elliott’s presence went a long way to solving that issue, the star slotting four of his side’s five first-quarter goals before kicking the winner to finish with a career-best haul.
“We’ve missed his talent and smarts in front of the ball and to be able to have that sort of impact coming back is a credit to him,” Buckley said.
“It’s a credit to our fitness staff that they were able to get him in that shape, but the individual himself needs to take ownership of his situation.
“Clearly he was able to put the work in and put himself in a position where he could have an impact like that and to kick the winning goal is clearly an impressive performance.
“There’s no doubt that a smart player in front of the ball definitely helps (our forward connection).
“It makes us all look a bit better when you’ve got that type of capacity on the receiving end of kicks.”
Buckley’s men had to comply with a raft of stringent Covid protocols to even be allowed to fly into South Australia on Saturday morning.
After returning negative test results upon arrival, the Pies then had to cool their heels for hours at the ground but showed no signs of lethargy as they raced to a 23-point lead at the first break.
Buckley’s defence-first game plan was roundly criticised following the loss to the Cats, but while the Magpies were more fluent with their ball movement against the Crows, the coach denied he had tweaked his strategy.
“The message was no different to the last three or four weeks,” he said.
“Our best offence comes off really good defence and the messages were all the same.
“We still feel like we can be a side that balances up really well on both sides of the ball.
“It’s no surprise that the best defensive teams win finals and win flags and half the reason is because it gives them a platform to attack from.
“I think when you win people are a lot more positive about how you played.”
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