ADELAIDE has overcome the absence of inspirational skipper Chelsea Randall to derail red-hot Geelong and put one foot inside the top four.
The high stakes battle between fourth and fifth on the ladder more than lived up to expectations, the Crows hanging on to claim a thrilling two-point victory at Unley Oval on Friday.
The 4.6 (30) to 4.4 (28) result keeps the reigning premiers – who lost Randall to an ankle injury in last week’s loss to Brisbane - in fourth (7-2, 28 premiership points) with one game to go in the regular season.
The Cats (6-3), riding a four-game winning streak into the contest, can hold their heads high up against one of the true premiership contenders.
Nothing separated the two sides all game.
The Crows led by one point at quarter-time, three points at the main break and by a solitary point at the final change.
It was a game that featured intense pressure, lots of tackling and was a fierce battle throughout.
The Crows dominated the territory battle – evidenced by a 35-20 inside 50 advantage – but the Cats defenders held up well under a flurry of attacking raids.
Midfield guns Anne Hatchard (24 disposals) and Ebony Marinoff (23) did the heavy lifting for the Crows in the midfield, and received great support from Rachelle Martin (13), defender Stevie-Lee Thompson (15) and ruck Caitlin Gould (12 disposals, 20 hitouts).
Danielle Ponter booted two goals, and could’ve had a third to seal the game, but lost the ball on her fourth bounce.
Georgie Prespakis and Amy McDonald had 23 disposals each while Chantal Emerson (19 disposals) provided plenty of drive out of defence.
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Ponter produced one of the goals of the season with a spectacular four-bounce special that started on her own side of the centre circle. Ponter intercepted a Cats centering kick before she took off with open space in front of her, having just enough pace to hold off the chasing defender. She couldn’t repeat the effort in the fourth quarter, with her fourth bounce going astray and Annabel Johnson cleaning up.
Cats forward Chloe Scheer capped her emotional return to Adelaide with a key long-range goal in the third quarter. In her first game against her former club, the 2019 premiership-winning Crow took a strong mark before going back and launching a 40m bomb to an open goal-square. Scheer tore her ACL in the 2019 Grand Final, but has been pivotal in the Cats’ resurgence this season.
The Crows head across to Melbourne to face St Kilda at RSEA Park next Saturday, 3.10pm (AEDT). Meanwhile, the Cats will be strongly favoured to take winning momentum into the finals when they host lowly Sydney at GMHBA Stadium next Saturday, 5.10pm (AEDT).
ADELAIDE 1.1 2.5 4.5 4.6 (30)
GEELONG 1.0 2.2 4.4 4.4 (28)
Adelaide: Ponter 2, Kelly, Whiteley
Geelong: Darby, Crocket-Grills, Scott, Scheer
Adelaide: Marinoff, Ponter, Hatchard, Thompson, Gould, Martin
Geelong: A McDonald, Prespakis, Emerson, M McDonald, Morrison, Webster
Crowd: TBC at Unley Oval