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Crows' season hanging by a thread after Friday night shocker

Highlights: Adelaide v Essendon The Crows and Bombers clash in round 18

WITH everything to play for and its season edging closer to a tipping point, Adelaide blew it.

The Crows were cruising to victory against a depleted Essendon side when key forward Josh Jenkins booted his fourth goal to extend his side's lead to 30 points at the 24-minute mark of the second quarter.

DONS OVERRUN CROWS Full match coverage and stats

It should have been a comfortable result from there, one that would have solidified the Crows' spot in the top eight while at the same time dealing a severe blow to one of their finals rivals.

But it all went pear-shaped in the second half as the Bombers turned on the afterburners to leave the Crows in an almighty scrap if they want to feature in September.

 

Sitting eighth with a 9-8 win-loss record, the Crows will be favoured to win the next two against bottom-four sides St Kilda and Carlton before they have to run the gauntlet – reigning premiers West Coast in Perth, followed by runners-up Collingwood in round 22.

It could all boil down to a tricky round 23 clash with the hot and cold Western Bulldogs in chilly Ballarat.

That's no certainty.

The Crows have been a tough side to read all season.

They've looked impressive at times, coming back from a terrible 1-3 start in the opening month with a renewed defensive game style.

But at others, they've been blown out of the water and have faded badly in second halves.

 

Their last quarter against Geelong in round 15. The diabolical second half in Showdown 47 a week after.

Last weekend's 95-point thumping of Gold Coast was a false dawn, essentially a training run against witches hats.

Yes, the Bombers were in red-hot form and had won five of their past six games before Friday night's trip to Adelaide Oval, but they were hardly at full strength.

 

Key defender Michael Hurley and dangerous forward Orazio Fantasia both missed the trip through injury.

The Bombers also didn't have a recognised ruckman. Forward Shaun McKernan tried his hardest to compete with Reilly O'Brien, but was always going to struggle to compete with a specialist ruckman.

In contrast, apart from defender Tom Doedee, who tore his ACL in round one, and big-bodied midfielder Cam Ellis-Yolmen, the Crows had their best 22 on the park.

The pace of the Bombers was the difference in the second half.

They ran the Crows ragged with their rebound out of defence, quick handballs and made the most of their chances going forward.

 

The Crows conceded 10 goals to three in the second half – a fortnight after conceding nine goals to one in the second half of the 57-point loss to the Power.

Brodie Smith was outstanding with 31 touches and three goals, the Crouch brothers hunted all night and Josh Jenkins had a dominant first half.

 

But there wasn't much to write home apart from that.

This might be who the Crows are – a solid side that can't match it with the premier sides in the competition.