MAX KING has continued his rise to the top echelon of the AFL's big forwards, with his six-goal haul spearheading St Kilda to a stirring 21-point win over Adelaide.
King booted four of the Saints' six goals to three-quarter time in a low-scoring clash at Adelaide Oval, keeping his side in a game that the Crows should have put away had they kicked even remotely straight.
CROWS V SAINTS Full match details and stats
He then added two more in the final term as St Kilda piled on eight goals to the Crows' three to claim a vital win, 14.6 (90) to 9.15 (69).
The Crows were on top for much of the match but gave up their lead early in the final term until Jordan Dawson reclaimed it with a goal at the 21-minute mark, before the Saints booted the last four goals of the game.
The win leaves St Kilda in touch with the top four after 10 rounds, while King sits third in the Coleman Medal race with 29 goals from 10 games, four behind new leader Charlie Curnow.
"The beauty today was we kicked straight, Max [King kicked] six straight but the team in general. To kick 14.6 by the end was pleasing," Saints coach Brett Ratten said.
"Our last few weeks we’ve kicked poorly at goal and had to work really hard. We’ve kicked a lot of points and haven’t kicked it through the big ones, so today it kept us in the game and won us the game."
King was the star throughout and well-supported by speedster Bradley Hill in his 200th match.
The Saints' midfield, missing captain Jack Steele due to a shoulder injury, was made to battle deep into the final term before sealing the win, but Hill stepped up with 30 disposals and a team-high 568m gained.
Hill's run-and-carry and clean kicking stood out in a scrappy contest and helped King do the damage closer to goal.
Brad Crouch was also important in his second match against his former club, with a goal and 14 of his 31 disposals contested. Jack Sinclair was also prolific with 32 disposals.
Ben Keays continued his strong form for the Crows with 27 disposals and Jordan Dawson was important with 22 touches and two goals but the lack of a focal point cost them.
Brodie Smith was another of the Crows' best and finished with 28 disposals and 659m gained.
It was a spirited opening from the Crows with Riley Thilthorpe looking lively and kicking an early goal in his first match since round one after a stint in the reserves and later on the sidelines with a knee injury.
But the Crows weren't able to make the most of their 18-9 inside 50s and trailed 1.5 to 2.1 at the first change after King slotted his second goal just before quarter-time.
The hosts continued their dogged efforts through the second term but again failed to capitalise on the scoreboard, and a 4.8 to 3.3 half-time lead was quickly erased by a goal to Tim Membrey and two more to King.
The Crows' inaccuracy in front of goal ultimately left the door open for the Saints to make the late charge that now has them well-placed for finals with a 7-3 record.
“It was the difference in the game, in the end,” Crows coach Matthew Nicks said.
“We did everything we wanted to do tonight exactly the way we wanted to do it other than put the ball between the two sticks, and in the end it cost us the game of footy.
“So we come away extremely frustrated. It’s quite a painful experience for our group. We know exactly what it was that cost us tonight.”
St Kilda will continue their chase for a top-four spot against North Melbourne next Sunday while Adelaide face Geelong at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday.
The King finds his radar
Saints fans won't forget King's one goal from eight shots against GWS in round six quickly, but his sharpshooting efforts against Adelaide will have gone a long way towards erasing it from their memories. King was flawless on Saturday night, slotting six goals from his only six kicks on the night, taking six marks to round out his game. The saying goes that you only need one trick if it's a good one; King's one-wood was on full display against the Crows and he dragged his side along with him for three quarters.
McAdam can do it all
Minimum touches, maximum impact. Shane McAdam has arrived as an AFL-level small forward this season and it's the versatility he displayed against St Kilda that makes him so dangerous. Long known for his spectacular aerial ability, he showed tremendous courage by going back into the pack for a brave chest mark and resulting goal. And in the third term, he lit up Adelaide Oval with a deft soccered goal off the ground across his body. Eddie Betts couldn't hope for a better heir to his forward-pocket throne.
Saints' costly ill-discipline
It didn't matter in the end, but two unnecessary 50m penalties would left Brett Ratten deeply frustrated. First, Josh Battle's kick well after Jimmy Rowe earned a free kick for holding the ball turned an unlikely long-range shot into a certain goal. There was less scoreboard damage when Jimmy Webster let his frustrations boil over by shoving Lachie Murphy into the turf after giving away a high-contact free, but despite Murphy's errant shot, St Kilda didn't need to be handing territory and confidence to their opponents. The Saints will need to tidy up that part of their game to challenge other sides at the pointy end of the ladder.
ADELAIDE 1.5 4.8 6.13 9.15 (69)
ST KILDA 2.1 3.3 6.4 14.6 (90)
Adelaide: McAdam 2, Dawson 2, Thilthorpe, Soligo, Rowe, Rachele, Walker
St Kilda: King 6, Membrey 2, Hill, Crouch, Sharman, Wood, Ryder, Marshall
Adelaide: Smith, Keays, Dawson
St Kilda: King, Crouch, Hill, Sinclair
Adelaide: Rachele (hip), replaced by Lachlan Sholl in final quarter
St Kilda: Nil
Umpires: Rosebury, O'Gorman, Harris
Crowd: 28,783 at Adelaide Oval