PORT Adelaide continued its recent Showdown domination, but not without a huge fright, grinding out a four-point win over Adelaide on Saturday night.
The 7.13 (55) to 7.9 (51) victory was Port's fourth in succession against the Crows and keeps them entrenched in the top four.
CROWS v POWER Full match coverage and stats
They trailed by 19 points at half-time and 10 at the final change but kicked three goals to one in the last quarter to win.
Adelaide played the final term with one less player on its bench after Brodie Smith and Will Hamill were concussed either side of three-quarter time, but it did not relent.
Aliir Aliir was magnificent for the victors, finishing with 21 disposals, a whopping 16 of them intercepts, to go with five contested marks to take home the Showdown Medal.
Fittingly, it was he who took the last of his intercept marks on centre wing with just 30 seconds remaining as the Crows pushed forward one final time.
Travis Boak (27 disposals) wore down the close attention of Ben Keays, while Ollie Wines (27), Ryan Burton (26) and Zak Butters (19 and two goals) were also influential.
Adelaide was magnificent after a turbulent week at the club.
It took control in the second quarter, kicking three unanswered goals, including two to Ned McHenry.
The second came from a brilliant piece of play from Darcy Fogarty – who had kicked his own goal earlier in the quarter – where he beat two Port opponents to win a contested ball and thumped it forward on the left boot to an unmarked McHenry streaming towards an open goal.
Rory Laird (31 disposals) continued his fine season, while youngster Harry Schoenberg continued to impress with more midfield time, finishing with a career-high 30 touches and six clearances.
The dancing feet of Rozee
With the game on the line midway through the fourth quarter it was Connor Rozee who stood up with a little piece of magic. The ball was inside Port's forward 50 when Rozee toed it clear of a couple of Adelaide defenders towards the boundary line. From there he won the race to the ball, cleanly picked it up, handballed to Robbie Gray, who in turn quickly flicked it on to Sam Powell-Pepper who calmly steadied and kicked the go-ahead goal with a right foot snap. Charlie Dixon kicked a goal minutes later and Port had the breathing space it needed.
You shall not pass Aliir
Almost as if he'd watched Giant Sam Taylor's Herculean defensive performance on Friday night against Geelong and decided he was going to one-up it, Aliir Aliir controlled the match from early on. He gathered nine disposals in the first quarter, seven of them intercepts, to completely nullify Adelaide's ball movement. After the first break though, the Crows adjusted, kicking the ball away from him and hitting short lead-up targets. It didn't last for long though as the former Swan continued to dominate in the second half, finishing with 21 touches, 16 of them intercepts.
Matthew Nicks' tagging tactics
From the outset Adelaide came with the mindset to hunt its opposition, and that included two important run-with roles assigned by Crows coach Matthew Nicks. Ben Keays wore Port skipper Travis Boak tightly, while veteran David Mackay was sent to half-back Darcy Byrne-Jones. Keays kept Boak to 12 first-half touches, many of them handballs, but the Port veteran worked tirelessly to finish with 27 for the night and become an influence. Byrne-Jones was also quiet early but got going in the third term to finish with 18 for the night. Mackay had the better of that match-up though with his 17 touches and one miraculous goal.
ADELAIDE 1.3 4.6 6.8 7.9 (51)
PORT ADELAIDE 1.2 1.5 4.10 7.13 (55)
Adelaide: McHenry 2, Fogarty, Himmelberg, Keays, Mackay, Lynch
Port Adelaide: Butters 2, Dixon, Fantasia, Georgiades, Powell-Pepper, Wines
Adelaide: Laird, Schoenberg, Butts, Seedsman, Jones, Keays
Port Adelaide: Aliir, Drew, Bonner, Rozee, Boak, Burton, Butters
Adelaide: Smith (concussion), Hamill (concussion)
Port Adelaide: Nil
Adelaide: Ben Davis (replaced Brodie Smith)
Port Adelaide: Todd Marshall (unused)
Crowd: TBC at Adelaide Oval