Crows on AFL mission improbable: Pyke

The Crows must beat the Bulldogs and hope other results go their way to make the AFL finals.
The Crows must beat the Bulldogs and hope other results go their way to make the AFL finals.

For Adelaide coach Don Pyke, it's mission improbable - but not impossible.

To have any hope of making the AFL finals, 10th-placed Adelaide must defeat the eighth-placed Western Bulldogs on Sunday in Ballarat.

And the Crows, a win shy of the Dogs on the ladder, must triumph by around five goals to surpass the Bulldogs on percentage.

Even then, there's the chance 11th-placed Port will beat Fremantle in Sunday's last game of the round by a sufficient margin to jump them both and pinch eighth spot.

And all those scenarios rely on ninth-placed Hawthorn losing to West Coast on Saturday.

"That's the reality," Pyke said.

"We go to Ballarat and get a win, and win by a certain margin or as much as we can - we give ourselves a chance.

"Obviously we become a bit beholden to other results. We can't now control it.

"That is something that we have handed away for not being able to get the results."

The Crows, with just two victories from their past eight games, are underdogs against the Dogs, who have seven wins from their past 10 matches.

But Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge is ignoring the stark contrast in form lines between the clubs.

"We just prepare for their best," Beveridge said.

"They are a mature side. I imagine with their physical maturity they'll probably have a little bit of advantage there so we will need to be nimble."

Both coaches reckoned the result would be decided by the midfield duels, with Pyke plotting to curtail dynamic Bulldogs trio Marcus Bontempelli, Jack Macrae and Josh Dunkley.

"They're averaging nearly 100 touches a game between the three of them, they have been certainly very strong in their resurgence," Pyke said.

"We will have some plans in place ... but the reality is that midfield battle always is pivotal."

Adelaide's onball brigade is headlined by co-captain Rory Sloane and brothers Matt and Brad Crouch, who were born in Ballarat.

The Crouch brothers are the only Crows familiar with Sunday's venue, where the Dogs have played four times, but Pyke discounted suggestions that was an advantage for the Bulldogs.

"It's four (goal) posts at each end and it's the same size as Marvel Stadium," he said.

"The games I have seen there have generally had some impact from wind so we just have to see how that looks on the day and adjust."

Australian Associated Press