Demons hold on to leave Crows on life support
ADELAIDE'S long, slow march to an inevitable conclusion this season is now surely complete after Saturday night's 13-point loss to Melbourne all but ended its finals chances.
Unlike the Alice Springs disaster in Round 10, the Crows' endeavour wasn't questioned and they fought back from 31 points down to get to within seven late in the game, but the damage was done in a devastating third quarter that saw the Dees keep their own finals hopes alive.
Melbourne trailed by nine points at quarter-time and seven at half-time but just hung in there and made its move in the third term with 7.5 to 1.2.
The Crows rallied in the last and got to within eight points with one minute to go but when Eddie Betts hit the post from the top of the square that was it.
The Crows are now two games and percentage outside the top eight with four games including next weekend's Showdown to go.
Clayton Oliver was well held by Riley Knight in the first half but he lifted and along with Christian Petracca dominated at stoppages and Jordan Lewis celebrated his 300th game with two big 50m goals.
After having to defend his post-game smile all week, Bernie Vince had every reason to be pleased as his side held on in the wet.
The Crows were virtually a man down for the game when Paul Seedsman kicked a brilliant goal from the boundary before leaving the ground in the first quarter with a hamstring injury.
The positives were the performance of Hugh Greenwood who has now kicked six goals in the past two weeks, set another up and provided constant energy and pressure around stoppages.
Alex Keath played another very good game in an undermanned defence, keeping Jesse Hogan to just 10 touches and a goal.
Keath led Hogan to the ball, spoiled when caught behind and was composed with the footy and stopped a certain goal to Jeff Garlett in the third quarter.
Wayne Milera was brilliant in congestion and there was a passage of play late in the second term where he danced around five opponents and somehow found a way out of trouble.
But for all his brilliance two miss-kicks cost Adelaide two goals in the third quarter when the onslaught was unfolding.
Sam Jacobs was competitive against arguably the league's best ruckman in Max Gawn and if he didn't win the ball he at least made Gawn earn it.
James Harmes did a good job on Rory Sloane keeping him to nine first-half disposals but Sloane never stopped applying pressure - like his goal-saving tackle on Alex Neal-Bullen - and had a big final term in the heavy rain as did Bryce Gibbs and Matt Crouch who never stopped trying.
Adelaide was hungry and sharp early, doubling Melbourne in contested possession and kicking the first three goals.
The Demons were struggling to cope with Adelaide's pressure as the home side built a wall behind the footy to keep it inside 50m but a goal to Bayley Fritsch after the quarter-time siren kept them in touch.
Petracca gave the Demons some much-needed spark, and when Jake Melksham out-marked three opponents and kicked a goal it was game-on.
After taking control of the game in the third term Melbourne was haunted by memories of last week's fadeout but this time did enough.
MELBOURNE 3.1 5.7 12.11 13.12 (90)
ADELAIDE 4.4 6.8 7.10 10.17 (77)
BEST - Melbourne: Petracca, Oliver, Harmes, Melksham, Frost, T.
McDonald. Adelaide: Greenwood, Keath, Milera, Gibbs, M. Crouch,
GOALS - Melbourne: T. McDonald 3, Lewis, Melksham, Fritsch 2,
Kennedy-Harris, Garlett, Hogan, Neal-Bullen. Adelaide: Greenwood 2,
Seedsman, Betts, Gibbs, Murphy, Atkins, Gallucci, Betts, Walker.
INJURIES - Adelaide: Seedsman (hamstring).
UMPIRES - M. Stevic, S. Meredith, D. Harris.
CROWD - 45,880 at Adelaide Oval.