Isaac Heeney celebrates a goal during the round 23 match between Adelaide and Sydney on August 19, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

SYDNEY has survived a late charge to pip Adelaide by one point and strengthen its grip on a finals spot.

But the Crows' playoff hopes ended with the heartbreaking 11.8 (74) to 10.13 (73) result on a rain-soaked Adelaide Oval on Saturday night.

The Swans were 44 points up late in the second quarter but Adelaide stormed in the final term, booting 4.8 to 0.1 only to fall just short.

CROWS v SWANS Full match coverage and stats

Crow Ben Keays thought he'd given his side the lead with 60 seconds to go but his shot was judged to have grazed the goalpost.


Sydney takes seventh spot by two premiership points into their last home-and-away game - an SCG clash against top-four fancy Melbourne.

But 13th-placed Adelaide's chances of sneaking into the finals disappear.

Swans winger Errol Gulden continued his fine season with 30 disposals, Chad Warner (25 touches) was a standout and Oliver Florent (21) and Tom Papley (one goal) had patches of influence.


Heeney's scoring polish in attack was supported by Hayden McLean (two goals), while Nick Blakey (21 disposals, seven marks) was prominent in Sydney's stingy defence. 

Adelaide entered the round as the competition's highest-scoring team but failed to flourish in attack until the last-term press.


Taylor Walker and Josh Rachele kicked two goals each and Crows on-ballers Rory Laird (31 possessions), Matt Crouch (26) and Jake Soligo (28) revelled in the wet.

The Swans found four goalkickers in their strong 4.3 to 1.3 opening term, and when Heeney slotted two goals in 90 seconds - a roved snap followed by a set shot - Sydney's lead blew out to a dangerous 30 points.


Adelaide's Harry Schoenberg replied before the Swans stamped their authority with three consecutive goals creating a 44-point advantage.

Crows forwards Walker and Shane McAdam scored late to reduce Sydney's lead to 32 points at half-time, 9.5 to 4.3.


Adelaide couldn't make inroads in a slog of a third quarter although Izak Rankine produced a highlight as both teams scored two goals.

Rankine collected possession on the boundary and, from the tightest of angles, threaded an instinctive checkside goal.


The Crows turned 32 points down and were given a pulse with three consecutive goals inside four minutes to start the final term.

After a series of behinds, Keays celebrated what he believed was the go-ahead goal with a minute remaining only to be denied.


Controversial call steals Keays to victory
In a moment that cost a campaign Ben Keays' last-minute curler from the boundary line was judged to have hit the post, robbing the Crows of an improbable, almost impossible, comeback. The goal umpire was confident in his call, not bothering to go to a video review, however subsequent replays show there may have been space between ball and woodwork, and that the sound of contact could have been a player slapping the post padding. It's sure to be discussed and analysed intently through the week ahead, nowhere more so than in Adelaide public bars.


Swans are flying ... again
Saturday night's result was the Swans' sixth win in a row and if they can overcome Melbourne next week their form will replicate 2022's, where they saluted in the final seven rounds of the home and away season on the way to the Grand Final. The record of teams after suffering a thumping in the season decider is not good, with the last 12 teams to lose by 40 points or more failing to win a final the following season, but this Sydney outfit isn't limping into September and, if they make it, there's a youthful brashness that will put all other finalists on edge. 

Isaac Heeney celebrates on the siren of the round 23 match between Adelaide and Sydney on August 19, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Will this Crow go?
It's hard to understand why Matt Crouch only played one senior game before round 19 this year despite dominating weekly at state level. Over the last five weeks he's not just racked up possessions, as is his wont, but he's brought substantial pressure with a preparedness to tackle whatever's in front of him. Still uncontracted for next season and with Matthew Nicks non-committal when asked about the 28-year-old's future this week, there will surely be a few interstate phone calls being made to his management in the next month or so.


ADELAIDE     1.3     4.3     6.5     10.13 (73)
       4.3     9.5    11.7    11.8 (74) 

Adelaide: Walker 2, Rachele 2, Schoenberg, Rankine, McAdam, Crouch, Milera, Murphy
Sydney: Isaac Heeney 3, McLean 2, Wicks, Papley, McDonald, Hayward, Francis, Campbell

Adelaide: Crouch, Laird, Soligo, Rankine, O'Brien
Sydney: Heeney, Warner, Gulden, Blakey, McLean, Hickey

Adelaide: Sloane (eye)
Sydney: TBC

Adelaide: Luke Pedlar (replaced Rory Sloane in the third quarter)
Sydney: Ryan Clarke (replaced Tom Papley in the fourth quarter)

Crowd: 44,817 at Adelaide Oval