A CLUTCH goal from Taylor Walker in the dying stages has delivered Adelaide an incredible one-point victory over the previously unbeaten Melbourne at Adelaide Oval on Saturday.
In a topsy-turvy contest, the Demons looked home after Clayton Oliver put his side 16 points up late in the fourth quarter.
CROWS v DEMONS Full match coverage and stats
But the Crows came surging back, and Walker provided the knockout blow by calmly slotting a set shot in the final minute of the game to give the Crows the lead.
Melbourne rushed the ball back inside their forward 50, but Adelaide was able to hold on for a stunning 15.6 (96) to 14.11 (95) victory.
But there was controversy after a deliberate out-of-bounds free kick was not paid in the dying seconds, despite the Crows appearing to handball the ball directly to the boundary line.
Ben Keays starred for the Crows with two goals and 34 disposals, while Paul Seedsman was also impressive with 34 touches and a goal.
Oliver was outstanding for the Demons, racking up 38 possessions (including 27 contested), three goals, 13 clearances and nine tackles.
After a fairly even start to the first quarter, Melbourne got on top with three goals in swift succession, including an impressive long-range running bomb from Trent Rivers.
The Demons were helped by their dominance in the middle, winning five of the first six centre clearances.
But just when Melbourne threatened to pull away, exciting small forward James Rowe sparked the Crows with two quick goals to reduce the deficit to five points at quarter-time.
Adelaide made a strong start to the second quarter, with its chaotic but effective ball movement making Melbourne defenders nervous.
After Bayley Fritsch kicked the first goal of the term, the Crows started getting reward on the scoreboard and Darcy Fogarty put them in front after converting from a free kick.
The rest of the quarter was an arm wrestle, with neither side able to get on top for long periods.
Keays capped off a dominant 21-disposal first half with a goal at the 23-minute mark to put Adelaide five points up, but James Harmes kicked a late goal from outside 50 to level the scores at the main break.
Keays continued his sparkling form in the third term, kicking the opening goal of the quarter. Paul Seedsman quickly followed with another, and suddenly Melbourne looked all at sea.
With the crowd firmly behind them, Adelaide’s confidence was sky high, reflected in their slick ball movement.
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Melbourne needed a hero and Christian Petracca stepped up, kicking a vital long-range goal to help stem the bleeding.
From there the contest evened up again, Melbourne entering the final quarter three points up following a late goal from Clayton Oliver – who was monumental with 12 third-quarter possessions.
It was a pressure-filled final term with ferocious tackling aplenty, but with the contest on the line in the final stages, it was Adelaide that stood up with the last three goals of the game.
Non-call on deliberate out of bounds raises eyebrows
In a dramatic end to one of the games of the year, Melbourne was denied a chance to steal victory in the final seconds following a contentious non-call on a potential deliberate out of bounds decision. The Demons had driven the ball deep inside 50 when Crows' defender Nick Murray picked up the ball near the top of the goalsquare and appeared to handball it towards the forward pocket boundary line. Despite no other players being near the ball when it dribbled over the boundary, the umpire did not deem it was deliberate. It was a controversial non-call, but one that Adelaide fans are unlikely to complain about.
Pickett sparks the Demons
Melbourne were in deep trouble in the third term, with Adelaide on top in the contest and the Demons desperately needing a spark. Enter Kysaiah Pickett. The youngster had been fairly quiet thus far but came to life with an electric passage of play near goal. Pickett grabbed the ball in the forward pocket and quickly dropped it, but was able to craftily soccer it back to himself and power past Luke Brown to stroll into an easy open goal. The goal put the Demons back in front, and once again highlighted Pickett's rare game-breaking ability.
Crows dealt double reporting blow
It's not often that umpires report players within games these days, but for Adelaide it happened twice. First, Taylor Walker was reported for rough conduct on Clayton Oliver in the second quarter, after the veteran took Oliver to ground in a tackle. Then in the third term, Darcy Fogarty was reported for striking, following an elbow to the back of Jake Lever off the ball. Both players will be facing nervous waits from the Match Review Officer, although neither incident appeared overly severe.
ADELAIDE 4.2 8.4 11.5 15.6 (96)
MELBOURNE 5.1 8.4 11.8 14.11 (95)
Adelaide: Walker 3, Rowe 2, Thilthorpe 2, Keays 2, Fogarty 2, Mackay, Seedsman, Berry, McAdam
Melbourne: Oliver 3, Langdon 2, Gawn, McDonald, Rivers, Fritsch, Weideman, Harmes, Petracca, Pickett, Spargo
Adelaide: Keays, Seedsman, Laird, Walker, Mackay
Melbourne: Oliver, Petracca, Langdon, Gawn, Lever
Melbourne: Salem (soreness) replaced in selected side by Jetta
Adelaide: Ronin O’Connor (unused)
Melbourne: Tom Sparrow (unused)
Adelaide: Walker (reported for dangerous tackle on Oliver), Fogarty (reported for striking Lever)
Crowd: TBC at Adelaide Oval