ADELAIDE has produced a big final quarter to pick itself off the canvas and register its third win of the season with a 41-point triumph over a much-improved North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Crows looked dead and buried when they trailed by four points at three-quarter time, but booted eight goals to one during a dominant final term to clinch the 16.13 (109) to 10.8 (68) victory that catapults them into the top eight.
That victory looked less than likely after North Melbourne held the visitors goalless during an impressive third term and had all the running heading into the final quarter, spurred on by a small but boisterous home crowd.
ROOS v CROWS Full match coverage and stats
But this Adelaide team is a much better version than the one that claimed the wooden spoon and won just three times last season, as Matthew Nicks' side held its nerve and showed strong fighting capabilities to overrun a gallant opponent.
With Taylor Walker (three goals) relatively well held by Ben McKay after a fast start, it was left to the likes of Darcy Fogarty (three goals), Shane McAdam (three goals) and Lachlan Sholl (31 disposals) to do the damage up forward in the closing stages.
But perhaps they were overshadowed by Rory Laird, with the Adelaide midfielder picking up 31 disposals of his own in a best-on-ground performance in the absence of skipper Rory Sloane, and despite the close checking of North Melbourne's Kayne Turner.
While the Kangaroos will be disappointed with their final-quarter fadeout at home in front of their home fans, they will be buoyed by the fact they had the game on their own terms in the third quarter and had the match there to be won heading into the last, despite losing two key players early in the contest.
Reigning best-and-fairest winner Luke McDonald (pectoral muscle) and crucial forward Cameron Zurhaar (concussion) were injured in the first quarter of the clash, leaving North down a key rotation in what was a tightly fought match.
Former Sun Aaron Hall led the way for the Roos with 33 disposals across half-back, key forward Nick Larkey booted three goals in a much-improved performance, while Jy Simpkin (29 touches) and Jack Ziebell (25) also won plenty of the ball.
Big Texan still on Coleman watch
The revitalisation of Taylor Walker has been one of the biggest success stories of the season thus far and the Adelaide veteran had yet another good game on Sunday when he helped himself to a three-goal haul in an entertaining battle with Ben McKay. Walker would have sent a minor stir through Fred Fanning's grave when he kicked the first two goals of the match inside four minutes, but McKay fought back from that point to share the honours with the former Adelaide skipper. It means Walker now has 20 goals through the first four rounds of the season and, if the veteran forward can keep this form going, there is no reason why he can't claim his first Coleman Medal in 2021.
Noble starting fresh with young Roos
Much has already been made of the move of skipper Jack Ziebell to defence this season and David Noble continues to throw the magnets around as he tries to find the right balance for his young side. Aaron Hall has been one of North's best in the last fortnight in a new role off half-back, while veteran ruckman Todd Goldstein seemed to appreciate a bit of help with former Bulldog Tom Campbell included for his first game of the season on Sunday. Noble also used Kayne Turner on Rory Laird in the unfamiliar role of a tagger for parts on Sunday and you feel it won't be the last time this season that the North Melbourne coach moves his players around, with decisions needing to be made on a bevy of players at the end of the year.
What the Fog?
We've been waiting a while to see Darcy Fogarty fulfill the potential that saw him taken with pick 12 in the 2017 National Draft and he teased us once again on Sunday with some glimpses of what he is capable of. Fogarty started in the middle of the ground matched up to North general Ben Cunnington, but only really got going when he was pushed into the forward line. Fogarty has always been a beautiful kick of the football, so it was no surprise to see his first two kicks on Sunday were set-shot goals that most key forwards would be proud of. Fogarty finished the match with five disposals, five marks and three goals, so now the challenge is for the 21-year-old to back up that effort with another good performance next week.
NORTH MELBOURNE 2.2 6.3 9.7 10.8 (68)
ADELAIDE 5.2 8.6 8.9 16.13 (109)
North Melbourne: Larkey 3, Stephenson 2, Thomas 2, Goldstein 2, Phillips
Adelaide: Walker 3, Fogarty 3, McAdam 3, Schoenberg 2, Murphy, O'Brien, Seedsman, Rowe, Sholl
North Melbourne: Hall, Simpkin, Stephenson, Powell, Ziebell, Thomas
Adelaide: Laird, Doedee, Sholl, O'Brien, Seedsman, Smith
North Melbourne: Zurhaar (concussion), McDonald (pectoral muscle).
North Melbourne: Young (replaced McDonald)
Adelaide: Mackay (unused)
Crowd: TBC at Marvel Stadium