ADELAIDE'S casualty ward is piling up, but the resilient Crows are back in the winner's circle after a 37-point victory against an inaccurate Western Bulldogs at a rain-soaked Adelaide Oval on Friday night.
Mercurial Crows forward Eddie Betts was brilliant in his 100th game for the club, defying the dreadful conditions to kick four goals in his best performance of the season.
CROWS IN A SLOG Full match coverage and stats
The crowd of 39,407 witnessed an old-fashioned wet weather encounter where skills were sloppy, players crashed packs and goals were at a premium.
Despite having nine of their best 22 – including skipper Taylor Walker, Rory Sloane and reigning best and fairest winner Matt Crouch – watching from the stands, the Crows rose to third on the ladder with their sixth win of the season, 9.9 (63) to 2.14 (26).
"That was an important one for us, more for the opportunity it created for the guys that were playing," Crows coach Don Pyke said.
"It wasn't about the guys that weren't playing.
"We understood coming here tonight that there were guys out of our team that would be in our best 22, but we couldn't worry about that.
"All we could control was what we brought tonight in terms of our effort and our attitude towards the contest, and that's why I was super proud of them.
"They brought that and they sustained that for four quarters.
"That just helps build their belief individually, but also as a collective."
The Bulldogs (4-5) were far from disgraced in their first loss after three straight wins against Carlton, Gold Coast and Brisbane, paying the price for failing to capitalise on their attacking opportunities.
Big-bodied Crows midfielder Cam Ellis-Yolmen was outstanding with his contested work, Hugh Greenwood and Bryce Gibbs battled hard and Rory Laird was his usual busy self across half-back.
In-form Bulldogs midfielder Jack Macrae would go close to racking up another three Brownlow Medal votes.
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After two straight games of 40-plus disposals, Macrae had another 36 touches despite having the close attention of former North Melbourne tagger Sam Gibson in his first game for the Crows after missing eight weeks with a hamstring injury.
Marcus Bontempelli was strong, while defender Bailey Williams impressed with his ability to win one-on-one contests.
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The two sides had vastly different game plans.
The Crows focused on moving the ball by foot, banging it forward at every opportunity.
In stark contrast, the Bulldogs switched the ball by hand and generated lots of uncontested possessions.
But the Crows reigned supreme at the contest to consign the Bulldogs to their ninth straight loss in a Friday night interstate game since 1988.
"The ratio of kick to handball by the Crows was a lot more on the kick side, and comparatively, we handballed a fair bit out of there," Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said.
"That's partly due to Crows' pressure, but we had a plan to get it on the boot a bit more, and that didn't unfold unfortunately, so we're a bit frustrated by that.
"How far we are from the better sides, it feels like there's a bit of a gap at the moment."
With the rain pelting down from the outset, Betts showed how it was done with a brilliant 50m goal from tight on the boundary.
WATCH: Eddie Betts kicks a cracking first goal
The Crows led 3.3 (21) to 1.7 (13) at the main break.
Another magical finish from Betts, this time from a set shot hard in the right-hand pocket, gave the Crows a bit of breathing room in the third term. And they finished the game off with another three goals in the last quarter.
WATCH: Betts produces some more pocket magic
Adelaide: For the first time this season, the Crows looked to have got through a game unscathed.
Western Bulldogs: The Bulldogs have a clean bill of health.
The Crows have a nine-day break before heading to Alice Springs to face Melbourne at TIO Traegar Park next Sunday, 2.50pm (ACST). The Bulldogs are back under the Friday night lights when they take on Collingwood at Etihad Stadium at 7.50pm (AEST).
ADELAIDE 3.1 3.3 6.6 9.9 (63)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.3 1.7 1.10 2.14 (26)
Adelaide: Betts 4, Fogarty, Lynch, Poholke, Murphy, Jenkins
Western Bulldogs: Webb, Suckling
Adelaide: Betts, Laird, Ellis-Yolmen, Seedsman, Lynch, Greenwood, Jacobs
Western Bulldogs: Macrae, Dahlhaus, Hunter, Bontempelli, Williams
Western Bulldogs: Nil
Umpires: Stevic, Williamson, Fleer
Official crowd: 39,407 at the Adelaide Oval