Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks says his team “embarrassed ourselves” on Friday night in what he described as the most disappointing performance of his short time in charge of the Crows.
Essendon held Adelaide to its lowest-ever score of just 2.9.21, which was also the worst score recorded in the 22-year history of Marvel Stadium, as the Crows crashed to a 63-point drubbing.
“It goes against the body of work we’ve put together for the year, it’s one out of the box that I can’t explain … the effort wasn’t at the level it needs to be able to play AFL footy,” a perplexed Nicks said post-match.
“It’s a hard one to swallow, I feel for our members and our supporters … this one is a huge step backwards.
“Credit to Essendon, they owned us, we didn’t bring much of a fight unfortunately.”
Nicks said his players struggled to explain the sheer ineptitude of their performance immediately after the game.
“We tried as much as we could, players and coaches, of what we could try to do to stop the bleeding,” Nicks said.
“I can’t explain why our contest wasn’t at the level, I can’t explain our skills and our lack of intensity … by the end of it we looked like we were out of gas.”
Nicks envisaged quite a few changes to Adelaide’s line-up for their next match against West Coast and he was hopeful forward duo Taylor Walker (neck) and Elliott Himmelberg (illness) would be inclusions.
One of the players that will probably have to be replaced is defender Tom Doedee, who had to be subbed out in the first quarter due to a suspected concussion after a sickening collision with Essendon’s Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, running back with the flight of the ball.
The clash left Doedee with blurred vision and chest soreness and Nicks agreed that the 24-year-old was probably too courageous for his own good on that occasion.
“I think it’s something we’ve got to keep working on because I’m not sure that ball is ever there to go for,” Nicks said.
“At the time I was praying that he pulled out.”
Essendon coach Ben Rutten praised his team’s defensive effort in restricting the Crows to such a low score.
“I thought tonight in particular without (Dyson) Heppell, who’s been a leader of the footy club back there and a good communicator, I thought … all the defenders picked up the slack there and we were looking pretty solid behind the ball most of the night,” Rutten said.
The result put the Bombers two points outside the top eight heading into the weekend, but Rutten insisted he hadn’t thought too much about the prospect of his emerging team challenging for an unlikely finals berth.
“It was another step forward in our journey and where we want to get to,” he said.
“Now it’s about consolidating that and continue to develop and evolve and embed the way we want to play and turn up and show up from an attitude point of view, defensive point of view, attacking point of view.
“(Before the season started) I wasn’t sure on where we were going to get to (at the end of the year) and that was exciting – I knew we had a lot of improvement in us and we still do.”
First-year Bomber Archie Perkins had a breakout game against the Crows and Rutten has enjoyed watching him improve over the course of the season.
“The biggest thing we’ve liked about his season is his ability to pressure and tackle and his real thirst for the contest,” Rutten said.
Essendon might lose Kyle Langford next week against North Melbourne, after he was subbed out due to hamstring tightness, but Heppell is looking likely to return from a thumb operation.