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Crows pass Tigers test but are they the real deal?

Highlights: Adelaide v Richmond The Crows and Tigers clash in round 13

THIS was a game where Adelaide had little to gain, and everything to lose.

The threadbare nature of the Richmond side, with a galaxy of stars on the sideline and a multitude of kids on the ground, meant the Crows were expected to cruise to victory.

Anything less than a 50-point thumping was going to be a failure.

CROWS DOWN TOUGH TIGERS Full match details and stats

Lose, and talkback radio would be red-hot for the next fortnight as supporters grab the pitchforks and declare a return to last year's wasted season.

It took the Crows until the last 10 minutes of the final quarter to blow the brave Tigers out of the water, running out winners by 33 points – 15.11 (101) to 9.14 (68).

Despite being down to one player on the bench – with Lachlan Murphy, Daniel Talia and Jake Kelly finished for the night – the Crows over-ran the Tigers as the margin didn't reflect the closeness of the contest.

 

The Crows are now in the top four for the first time this season after winning seven of their past nine games.

However, they are still a fair way off being considered as a genuine premiership contender.

Rated as one of the competition favourites during the pre-season, the Crows were ordinary early as they lost three of their first four to be near the bottom of the ladder.

They've turned things around with a focus on defensive football and winning the contest.

 

The Crows have now beaten three top-eight teams this year – Port Adelaide in round eight, Greater Western Sydney last week and Richmond.

But they've hardly been convincing and were a Sam Weideman shank away from losing to the under-performing Melbourne in Darwin in round 11.

The Tigers were missing several big guns, including captain Trent Cotchin, veteran Shane Edwards, Alex Rance and Jack Riewoldt, and fielding 11 players with less than 50 senior games under their belt.

In contrast, the Crows had all but two players – defender Tom Doedee and forward Tom Lynch – available for selection.

They had the luxury of overlooking experienced duo Sam Jacobs and Bryce Gibbs as the squeeze for spots heats up.

 

The positive for the Crows is they've been able to get their maligned key forwards Josh Jenkins and Taylor Walker back into form.

Jenkins booted four goals from seven scoring shots. He crashed packs hard, presented a contest and was a constant threat.

However, his night was soured when he was taken off the ground on a medi-cab after a suspected knee injury.

Walker kicked 3.3 and has again made his critics eat their words.

 

In the midfield, Brad Crouch has rebounded from missing all of last year with a groin injury, picking up a career-high 43 disposals on Thursday night.

Midfielder Cam Ellis-Yolmen, defender Alex Keath and ruckman Reilly O'Brien have also become regulars in the side.

The real test for the Crows comes in two weeks when they head to Geelong to attempt to beat the Cats at GHMBA Stadium for the first time since 2003.