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Where: Etihad Stadium
When: 06.20 (BST)
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The Adelaide Crows will be desperate to avoid a fourth-straight loss to start the AFL season, when they clash with equally desperate St Kilda Saints at Etihad Stadium.
A major worry for the Crows is falling away late in matches this season. In the first three rounds of this year, they have allowed Geelong to boot the final six goals of the game, Port Adelaide to kick 12 of the last 15 and the Swans to kick 12 of the last 13 majors.
Despite the damning statistics, Matt Crouch denies the side’s poor finishes had anything to do with fitness levels.
Although new to the club, he believes his teammates are resilient enough to respond.
“The thing about the boys here is that we’re a pretty resilient group, I think we’ll fight back through this,” Crouch said.
“We’re still pretty confident, it’s only round three and there’s a long way to go in the year.
“We’ve had a big pre-season, I reckon our fitness is pretty good, it’s easy to say we’re running out of legs but I think we’ve got to be mentally better.
“A lot of [the players] have been through tough times like this and they’ve seen stuff like this and they’ve got out of it, so I think that gives me confidence, it gives the group confidence that we can push through this hard time.”
Crouch, younger brother of injured midfielder Brad, performed admirably in his first taste of AFL football. He started as the substitute before coming on during the second term, gathering 18 disposals and laying four tackles for the match.
After averaging 38 touches a game during last year’s NAB AFL Under-18 Championships, Crouch described his first experience at the elite level as a “step up”.
But the teenager claimed he felt comfortable on Adelaide Oval.
“It was only my first game so I can’t say I was at home yet, it was definitely a step up but I wasn’t out of my depth,” he said.
“It was good to get the chance and hopefully next time I can get the win.”
St Kilda also have several concerns about where their season is heading, with the Saints only recording one win, narrowly downing the newest side in the competition GWS in round two.
Making the matter even tough for the Saints is a foot injury to Sam Gilbert, which saw him leave the ground last weekend on crutches and in a moon boot.
Scans on Gilbert’s foot revealed no new structural damage to the previous injury experienced in the pre-season. He has suffered severe bruising and soreness to his foot but will not require additional surgery.
Gilbert will need a period of rest and rehabilitation from this aggravation of his foot injury and at this stage, is anticipated to miss 4-6 weeks.
“While we were disappointed to have Sam aggravate his foot injury on the weekend, we are pleased that no new structural damage has been caused and look forward to his return soon,” said St Kilda Head of Football Chris Pelchen.