ESSENDON has jumped into fifth spot on the ladder with a three-point win over a fast-finishing Adelaide outfit on Sunday afternoon.
The Bombers had long periods of dominance on the stats sheet, but Lachlan Murphy's third major of the day brought the Crows to within a goal with five minutes left to play.
>>WATCH THE THRILLING FINISH IN THE PLAYER ABOVE
Adelaide was rampant late but kicked 1.6 in the last quarter and fell short at the final hurdle.
Zach Merrett was the difference for the Bombers with 33 disposals in the 9.8 (62) to 8.11 (59) victory.
DONS HANG ON Full match coverage and stats
Andrew McGrath (25 disposals and 10 tackles), Kyle Langford (19 disposals and 2 goals) and Darcy Parish (22 disposals and a goal) provided strong support around the middle as the Bombers won the clearances by eight.
Conor McKenna provided an outstanding highlight as he burst through the middle and added in a Gaelic 'solo' before perfectly weighting an assist to Langford.
The Bombers applied intense pressure all afternoon with 73 tackles, 17 of them coming inside the forward 50 thanks to its mosquito fleet.
Taylor Walker stood up tall for the Crows, pulling in four contested marks and leading from the front in a side that lost Tom Doedee and Brad Crouch to hamstring injuries during the match.
Adelaide will be eyeing its first win under Matthew Nicks with games against North Melbourne and Melbourne next on the schedule.
Essendon now sits with five wins and two losses, but the fixture is about to get very tough with Brisbane and the Giants set to come over in consecutive Friday night games.
Double report leaves Crouch and Townsend bloodied
Tempers flared on the stroke of half-time, with Adelaide midfielder Matt Crouch and Essendon forward Jacob Townsend both reported in a bizarre incident. The two had a fistful of each other's jumpers and clashed heads, leaving both players with blood rolling down their faces. Both were reported straight away with confusion over who caused the headbutt, but the two laughed it off later in the game.
Woosha gets the midfield mix right
After getting thrashed in the contested possession count by Bulldogs last week, Essendon coach John Worsfold went for a more physical approach around the ball right from the start. Essendon finished the first half with 12 more clearances with Kyle Langford and Mitch Hibberd leading the way from the opening bounce. Zach Merrett and Andrew McGrath were released a little more and combined for 582 metres gained in the first half alone, after recording just 558 metres gained between them in total against the Bulldogs.
Future All Australians stand out at either end
Stand-in Crows skipper Tom Doedee and Essendon's rapid improver Jordan Ridley have played a combined 44 games, but they're set to fight for the same spot as the third tall defender in All Australian discussions for years to come. The two bravely soared for intercept marks across half-back, but Ridley got the points on the day after Doedee was pulled out in the third quarter with a tight hamstring.
ADELAIDE 2.1 4.3 7.5 8.11 (59)
ESSENDON 2.1 5.4 8.5 9.8 (62)
Adelaide: Murphy 3, Walker 2, Stengle, Smith, Seedsman
Essendon: McDonald-Tipungwuti 2, Langford 2, Cahill 2, Laverde, Townsend, Parish
Adelaide: Seedsman, Murphy, Walker, M.Crouch, Smith, O'Brien
Essendon: Merrett, McGrath, Langford, Snelling, Parish, Ridley
Adelaide: B.Crouch (hamstring), Doedee (hamstring)
Essendon: Laverde (ankle)