It was a great weekend to be an Adelaide Crows fan, coach Don Pyke says.
The AFL side showed they are a force to be reckoned with in 2017, beating premiership favourites Greater Western Sydney by 56-points on Sunday.
They were daring, they tackled hard and ran rings around the Giants at times to get their season off to a flying start in 33C heat at Adelaide Oval.
Pyke said the win capped off a brilliant couple of days for the club after the Crows’ women’s team conquered Brisbane to claim the AFLW premiership cup in the league’s inaugural season.
“I was proud of the team today,” Pyke told reporters after the men’s match.
“I thought we were physically and mentally strong to be able to get that result in what has been a great weekend for the footy club.
“It sort of capped it off after the women’s win yesterday, which was a great thing for our footy club.”
After a stumbling start, Adelaide were dominant for the rest of the AFL game to win 22.15 (147) to 14.7 (91), in front of almost 45,000 fans at the Adelaide Oval.
Defender Rory Laird was busy and creative for the home side, collecting a game-high 40 disposals, running through the midfield at times.
“He’s got a handy knack of finding the ball, which is great thing,” Pyke said.
“He was outstanding today. He was clearly, I thought, the best player.”
Matt Crouch (29 disposals), Rory Atkins (three goals) and Charlie Cameron (23 disposals, two goals) ran hard and were also among the best for the Crows.
Eddie Betts kicked four goals and key forward Josh Jenkins booted three goals, including a long-range bomb after the half-time siren, in the absence of Taylor Walker.
The Crows captain was close to playing but was ruled out hours before the game because of lingering tightness in his hamstring.
“We probably just thought the risk was too great,” Pyke said.
“He should be fine for next week, which is a positive.”
GWS controlled the play early on, displaying their trademark running game as they moved the ball through the corridor to lead at quarter time.
But the hard-running Crows gained momentum and put the visitors to the sword in a game-breaking seven-goal third term, slicing through the GWS defence with ease at times.
Giants coach Leon Cameron rued his side’s poor ball use and said his players weren’t hard enough at the ball.
“We just made some horrendous mistakes … and they pounced on them and hurt us on turnover,” he said.
“They (Adelaide) just used the ball far better than us and they were hungrier than us.”
It was a tough day for GWS recruit Tendai Mzungu who strained a hamstring in the first quarter, leaving the visitors a man down.
A deliberate rushed behind decision paid against Crows defender Daniel Talia drew jeers from the crowd after he knocked the ball through, from outside the goal square, under pressure.
But both coaches thought this was a fair decision.