ADELAIDE has clung on to record its third win of the season, defeating the Western Bulldogs by just one point on Saturday.
It was an error-strewn game in occasionally gusty conditions in Ballarat, and goalkicking was an issue for both sides in the 8.15 (63) to 9.8 (62) result.
BULLDOGS v CROWS Full match coverage and stats
After bringing up his 500th major earlier, Taylor Walker sealed the win with a composed set shot from a tight angle with two minutes remaining, following an uncharacteristic horror kick-in from Caleb Daniel.
Marcus Bontempelli cut the margin to just one point with seven seconds remaining, but it was a bridge too far for last year's losing Grand Finalists.
Adelaide had taken a three-point lead into the final break, with just 10 goals kicked between the two sides in the first three quarters, but the game was played with a frantic intensity in the last.
The Crows started the game full of running, outnumbering the Dogs at contests around the ground and jumping out to a two-goal lead.
But the Bulldogs worked their way into the game nicely, with Bailey Scott, Jack Macrae and Josh Dunkley finding plenty of the footy and delivering pinpoint passes inside 50, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan converting the side's first at the 19-minute mark.
The finishing touch was just missing at times for the Bulldogs – one lovely string of handballs ended in a Lachie McNeil shot sprayed sideways, and ill-directed kicks inside 50 were eaten up by Tom Doedee, Jordon Butts and Billy Frampton (a highly impressive 26 disposals and 10 intercepts).
Shane McAdam battled through a tough game, receiving treatment on his left knee, right calf and suffering from cramp, but kicked two goals to be a major constant threat in attack, while Reilly O'Brien (49 hitouts, 18 disposals) dominated in the air.
Rory Laird could come under MRO scrutiny for a late, high bump on Dunkley in the first quarter as the Dog was juggling the ball. A free kick was paid, and Dunkley played out the game.
Young Crow Lachie Gollant injured his nose in a marking contest at the start of the second quarter, but returned to the field by the end of the term.
The Crows now sit 3-3 on the season, while the Dogs are 2-4.
Saved by the bounce?
The Dogs and Crows were neck and neck for the entire game, and the final minutes were no exception. Bontempelli's goal with just seven seconds remaining cut the margin to a solitary behind, and a quick clearance out of the middle was desperately needed. Two of the seven seconds were eaten up when the umpire (rightfully) opted to recall the stray centre bounce, and the Crows locked up the footy from there.
Bulldogs' backline exposed again
It's become somewhat of a consistent theme for the Western Bulldogs, struggling to contain power forwards. While no single Crows forward got completely off the chain, the Dogs conceded 16 marks inside 50, and took just eight of their own, despite the presence of Aaron Naughton, Ugle-Hagan, Josh Schache and Bontempelli.
The remarkable rise of Billy Frampton
It's often a last-ditch resort with tall forwards – throw them in defence and see what happens. After a few shaky games and moments, Frampton was immense against the Dogs, recording a career-high 26 disposals at 89 per cent efficiency, 10 intercepts, nine marks and 502 metres gained.
WESTERN BULLDOGS 3.5 3.7 5.8 9.8 (62)
ADELAIDE 2.4 3.7 5.11 8.15 (63)
Western Bulldogs: Naughton 2, Treloar 2, Schache 2, Ugle-Hagan, Dunkley, Bontempelli
Adelaide: Walker 3, McAdam 2, Sholl, Gollant, McHenry
Western Bulldogs: Liberatore, Dale, Macrae, Smith, Treloar
Adelaide: Laird, Frampton, Keays, O'Brien, Crouch
Western Bulldogs: Nil
Adelaide: Gollant (nose), McAdam (knee, calf)
Western Bulldogs: Rhylee West (unused)
Adelaide: Will Hamill (unused)