Adelaide coach Don Pyke has described the Crows’ AFL season finishing prematurely as a “real kick in the guts”.
Minor premiers last year, not much has gone to plan for Adelaide this season as they sit two games and significant percentage out of the top-eight, meaning they will miss the finals for the first time since 2014.
The Crows were still a mathematical chance of charging back into September contention heading into Saturday night’s clash with GWS in Canberra.
But the top-four bound Giants did enough, despite being hit by three injuries during the game, to slam the door shut on any hopes Pyke’s men had.
They are the first beaten grand-finalist to not feature in finals the following year since Port Adelaide after their record defeat to Geelong in the 2007 decider.
“We came into the season with high expectations and hopes, so to be not participating in September is a real kick in the guts…for all of us,” Pyke told reporters after the game.
“The reality is you finish where you finish in this comp, for a variety of reasons, and we haven’t been good enough for long enough this season.
“We now get an opportunity to go away and go ‘let’s do something about it’ and we’ll do the work in the off-season.
“We’ve still got magnificent belief in this group.”
The one clear shining light for the Crows was the performance of Brodie Smith in only his second game back following almost 12 months out because of ACL surgery.
The dashing defender was Adelaide’s dominant player against the Giants with 29 possessions, impressing Pyke.
“It’s been great to have Brodie back in the team and that’s what we know he’s capable of bringing and we’ve missed that throughout the season,” Pyke said.
“He was really diligent with his rehab and his recovery and not only got himself right with his knee, but his fitness and his strength.”