ADELAIDE has held off a desperate Fremantle to win a scrappy match at Subiaco Oval by 24 points on Sunday.
The Crows were challenged after leading by 25 points late in the third quarter, with the home side snatching a six-point lead six minutes into the fourth. But the visitors eventually broke away in a thrilling last term to win 15.14 (104) to 11.14 (80).
Young Crow Taylor Walker stood up in the final term to boot two of his three goals while Scott Thompson (22 possessions) worked tirelessly to maintain his side's ascendency for most of the day.
Old heads Andrew McLeod and Simon Goodwin asserted themselves when the contest demanded it, while Jason Porplyzia booted four goals.
The bad news for the visitors arrived a minute before the main break when versatile defender Scott Stevens was taken from the ground on a stretcher.
Fremantle's Luke McPharlin charged back into the Crow as he attempted to mark and caught him head-high with a knee.
The good news for the Crows, however, was their young players, who showed they could complement the side's mature stars.
Fremantle's emerging players Stephen Hill, Nic Suban and debutant Greg Broughton, on the other hand, had less support, with the superb Paul Hasleby (28 possessions and a goal) the home side's best.
Both sides went in as named, but it was Fremantle that seemed the more settled early, kicking with a stiff breeze.
Ryan Crowley booted Fremantle’s first before Matthew Pavlich converted his set shot two minutes later.
The home side had more run and was dominating the inside 50s, but should have been up by more after Hasleby and Josh Head missed easy chances.
Adelaide's first came after Brad Symes swept on a scrappy defensive clearance from Daniel Gilmore, but the Crows were also missing chances in the swirly breeze.
Late in the term, Hill spotted up fellow youngster Clayton Hinkley, who sent the home side into the first break 14 points clear.
Adelaide turned things around dramatically in the second quarter and went on an unanswered five-goal run.
The visitors were working harder and stifling Fremantle's rebound from defence, but also missed chances kicking with the wind.
Porplyzia, Richard Douglas and Kurt Tippett all kicked early goals to give the Crows their first lead for the match before a 15-minute goalless period.
Neither side could gain the upper hand in an extended scrap, but some brilliance from young Crow Walker broke the shackles.
The emerging Crow burst onto a spilt pack mark and baulked his way around several Fremantle players, eventually steadying and converting.
Nick Gill then kicked Adelaide's fifth for the term after Stevens was carted off, sending the Crows into half time 18 points up but one man down.
Hill gave Fremantle a desperately-needed goal to open the third term, but Adelaide defied the breeze to kick the next two through Porplyzia and Tyson Edwards, with the Adelaide veteran lifting in the third.
David Mundy kicked a long running goal to keep Fremantle in touch, but Adelaide’s Nathan van Berlo showed the class that had been lacking for the home side when he kicked a superb goal from 45m out, on the boundary and into the breeze.
Haselby and Byron Schammer kicked majors to close the quarter and get the home side within two goals at the final change before a thrilling start to the fourth.
Matthew Pavlich, Chris Tarrant and finally Ryan Crowley gave Fremantle a six-point lead that had seemed all but impossible for the last quarter-and-a-half.
McLeod then sensed he was needed, and kicked a 55m goal that rolled along the ground for half its journey to level the scores and lift the visitors.
Missed shots cost Fremantle when they had momentum, while Adelaide was clinical through Walker, Porplyzia and Patrick Dangerfield in closing out the impressive win.
Adelaide 1.3 6.7 9.12 15.14 (104)
Fremantle 3.5 3.7 7.12 11.14 (80)
: Porplyzia 4, Walker 3, Dangerfield, Douglas, Edwards, Gill, McLeod, Symes, Tippett, van Berlo
: Pavlich 3, Crowley 2, Hasleby, Hill, Hinkley, Mundy, Schammer, Tarrant
: Thompson, Porplyzia, Walker, Doughty, Reilly, Rutten, Goodwin
: Hasleby, Ibbotson, Pavlich, Hill, Johnson, Palmer
: Stevens (concussion)
: Hill (finger), Broughton (ankle)
: Margetts, Wenn, Keating
: 30,035 at Subiaco Oval
The views in this story are those of the author and not necessarily those of the clubs or the AFL.