Bulldogs thumping the 'uppercut' Crows needed: Nicks
Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks believes his charges copped the "uppercut" they needed from a rampant Western Bulldogs outfit in a lacklustre 45-point defeat in Ballarat.
The Crows were coming off an impressive win over St Kilda heading into Saturday's clash, but copped a reality-check 11.19 (85) to 5.10 (40) defeat at Mars Stadium.
While they missed leaders Taylor Walker and Tom Doedee, plus young tall Riley Thilthorpe, Nicks lamented a lack of intensity, compared to the in-form Bulldogs.
"Really, you bring it back to the contest is where the game was won and lost and we were found wanting in that area," Nicks told reporters.
"Credit to the Bulldogs, they were outstanding in that space. But for the performances we've been putting out there, this was a big step backwards for us.
"We didn't get the game on our terms at all. In fact, we played exactly the way the Bulldogs want to play. We were probably lucky we avoided, just with their inaccuracy, maybe a bigger loss.
"We fought it out in the last quarter and it looked a little bit more like the footy we've been playing but this one stung a bit.
"We discussed it post-game and that was maybe the uppercut that we needed."
Nicks said there hadn't been any signs his charges would be off the pace while the Bulldogs were at their best.
"We weren't quite at the level today. Putting a finger on exactly why, I can't at this point," he said.
"Our players understand that, they've embraced that - it wasn't good enough.
"Maybe part of the journey we're on, the lesson we needed."
The Crows now sit 5-5 and eighth on the ladder.
"We're not going to panic at this stage," he said.
"We talked about post-match the form we're in and riding the wave and today was a setback.
"We'll get back on the board. We're confident we can play good footy. We didn't bring it today, which is disappointing."
Walker will return against Brisbane while Nicks was "reasonably confident" Thilthorpe (knee) would be better.
Mitch Hinge will miss the clash with his former team after a first-quarter concussion.
The Crows will sweat on the match review officer's assessment of Izak Rankine's front-on contact on Taylor Duryea, which earned a match-day report.
"I obviously watched it live. I won't comment because it's hard live," Nicks said.
"But I will say I thought both were going for the footy.
"But it's a hard one, until I see the footage back and slowed down - which is why it's so hard for the players."