IN THE battle for second place on the ladder, the Adelaide Crows got the chocolates at Norwood Oval with a three-point win over the North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos, 6.5 (41) to 5.8 (38).
The Kangaroos got out to a bounding start, suffocating the usually-attacking Crows early, halting almost any effort made to get the ball inside 50.
Ellie Gavalas kicked the first goal of the match - and her first of the season - and that kick-started the Roos’ attack, with goals to follow from Jasmine Garner and Tahlia Randall.
Eloise Jones was the only goal scorer for the Crows in the first quarter, and Ebony Marinoff, in her 75th game, had 11 disposals by quarter time.
In the second quarter, the Crows chipped away at the Kangaroos’ walls and pulled the margin back to just seven points by half time.
The Kangaroos dominated the inside 50s in the first half with nearly double what the Crows had.
The Crows came out with renewed energy in the third quarter and punted the ball inside 50 early, but could not capitalise and the Kangaroos took control.
CROWS v KANGAROOS Full match coverage and stats
Caitlin Gould put her hand up for another Goal of the Year nomination, shrugging tackles from Eliza Shannon and Erika O’Shea before snapping the goal from the pocket to give her side the lead.
But the Kangaroos wrenched the lead back three minutes later after their attacks turned defenders and turned over the ball in the forward 50, with Garner kicking truly for her second of the day.
Mia King was on track for one of her best matches to date, getting amongst the action and pushing the ball forward for the Roos, and Ash Riddell was as consistent and influential as usual.
The last quarter was frantic from start to finish, but it was the Crows who had a slightly steadier ship.
The home side trailed then Danielle Ponter finished with a goal after a 50m penalty.
Kate Shierlaw flew for a contested mark but as she came down she collided with teammate Lulu Pullar, and both players had to leave the field with the blood rule in crucial minutes.
The Kangaroos did all they could to turn the game to their favour but the ball just could not get through the big sticks and they continued to trail.
With 90 seconds to go, Taylah Levy handballed to speedster Niamh Kelly, who was able to run on and slot it through.
The crowd held its breath as the Kangaroos sent the ball forward, but desperate defending by the Crows and game-saving clearance by Marinoff saw the home side victorious by three points.
Did you see that?
Players on both sides were ferocious in their battle for the ball, including the usual suspects Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff. But with 12-and-a-half minutes left of the third quarter, the Crows’ dynamic duo was so fired up to get the ball that they actually tried to steal the ball from each other. With their blinkers on and eyes only for one thing, they both crumbed the ball and tried wrenching it from each other’s hands, until it spilled up in the air and Marinoff was able to get it again, sticking out her tongue in a chuckle in the process.
The ladder now
The Crows’ win meant they held onto second spot over the Kangaroos. They are now two games clear of the Kangaroos, and sit on equal points with Melbourne, who will face runner-up premiers Brisbane, who are currently fourth. Melbourne is ahead of Adelaide percentage-wise with 260.4 per cent compared to 196.3 per cent, but with the Crows facing 16th-placed West Coast, the top two switching places is not completely out of the question.
“There was no lack of effort or intent from either side, and we were happy with that component of how we went about it, but probably just the system and method of which we did that across the day wasn’t quite where we want it to be - but equally we did enough to keep ourselves in the contest and to take a chance when it came.” - Matthew Clarke, Adelaide coach
“I did say to them (the players) that the scoreboard shouldn’t be the only indicator of their belief that they can actually match it against the better teams. There’ll be some numbers that we’ll show them this week that suggest that we could’ve easily won that game, but unfortunately we’re here licking our wounds because we didn’t.” - Darren Crocker, North Melbourne coach
With one round left of the season before finals, North Melbourne heads to VU Whitten Oval to battle the Western Bulldogs at 1.05pm local time, while Adelaide travels to Perth to face West Coast Eagles on Saturday at 2.05pm local time.
ADELAIDE 1.2 3.2 4.4 6.5 (41)
NORTH MELBOURNE 3.2 4.3 5.4 5.8 (38)
Adelaide: Gould 2, Prowse, Ponter, Kelly, Jones
North Melbourne: Garner 2, Shierlaw, Randall, Gavalas
Adelaide: Marinoff, Hatchard, Kelly, Biddell, J. Allan,
North Melbourne: Garner, Riddell, King, Bruton, Randall
North Melbourne: Pullar (head)
Crowd: 3,632 at Norwood Oval