ADELAIDE has survived a scare from St Kilda to set up a likely qualifying final against Melbourne with a hard-earned 16-point victory at RSEA Park on Saturday afternoon.
The Crows were at risk of dropping to fourth place and facing a trip to play league-leader Brisbane next week when trailing in the third term, but took control late to secure the 4.5 (29) to 2.1 (13) triumph at Moorabbin Oval on Saturday.
SAINTS v CROWS Full match coverage and stats
An upset was on the cards until Danielle Ponter sparked the Crows after the main break, firstly slotting a set shot from just inside the 50m arc when kicking against the wind.
The crafty forward followed up two minutes later when the Saints attempted to switch play deep in the Crows' attacking pocket, intercepting the ball in the air and running into an open goal.
The Saints stayed within touching distance until Ashleigh Woodland was taken high next to the behind post and snapped a stunning banana to make the margin nine points halfway through the final term.
Woodland bettered that in the dying stages when throwing the ball on the boot while being tackled and watching the snap sail through to ensure the result for the Crows.
Star onballer Ebony Marinoff helped keep the Crows in the contest in the first half with 15 disposals, then had even more of an impact as the game slowly turned, finishing with 29 touches and nine clearances.
Anne Hatchard (21) and Niamh Kelly (14) were also influential in the Crows' comeback, while Chelsea Biddell (14 touches, six rebounds) added drive from defence.
This was arguably the Saints’ best display of the season as they not only matched, but often outplayed, their highly-fancied opponents.
The Saints (3-7) controlled the territory in the opening term when kicking with a stiff breeze, then cleverly put players behind the ball to take a 22-8 lead in inside 50s into half time.
But the hosts could only turn their advantage in play into a five-point lead at the main change, with key forward Kate Shierlaw the only goalscorer in the match at that time.
Georgia Patrikios (17 disposals, one goal) added class to the Saints' determined efforts, with the outstanding Molly McDonald (20) and Hannah Priest (15) also finding plenty of the ball, but the Crows ultimately had more contributors.
"The first half was pretty poor to be honest, but credit to St Kilda they brought energy, pressure, they were using the ball well. But the ability to respond and get an outcome was really good. Obviously it was significant in the context of the season." - Adelaide coach Matthew Clarke
"I was pretty proud of the way that the girls played it out even though it was a couple of goals margin at the end. The Crows are a very good team and they showed that late." - St Kilda coach Nick Dal Santo
While St Kilda saved its best performance for last, it's now season-over for the Saints who finish with three wins. Adelaide will most likely finish in third place and will play second-placed Melbourne in the first week of finals. The Crows could slip to fourth if Richmond has a lofty win over North Melbourne on Sunday, and in that case they would face Brisbane in week one of finals.
ST KILDA 1.1 1.1 2.1 2.1 (13)
ADELAIDE 0.1 0.2 2.3 4.5 (29)
St Kilda: Shierlaw, Patrikios
Adelaide: Woodland 2, Ponter 2
St Kilda: Patrikios, White, McDonald, Priest
Adelaide: Marinoff, Hatchard, Thompson, Ballard
St Kilda: Nil