Max King was the difference as St Kilda kicked the final four goals to overrun a brave Adelaide and claim a 21-point AFL victory at Adelaide Oval.
Saints spearhead King booted six goals straight while the Crows failed to make the most of their opportunities in front of goal as the Saints won 14.6 (90) to 9.15 (69) on Saturday night.
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.
The Saints then booted four majors in a row to claim a courageous victory on the road with King the star, well-supported by Bradley Hill in his 200th match.
“The beauty today was we kicked straight, Max [King] 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.”
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 was dominant throughout, 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 added polish with 22 touches and two goals but the lack of more poise inside 50 cost the hosts.
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 halftime lead was quickly erased by a goal to Tim Membrey and two more to King soon after the resumption.
“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.”
The Crows’ inaccuracy in front of goal ultimately left the door open for the Saints to make a late charge with eight goals to three in the final term which leaves them them well-placed for finals with a 7-3 record.
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.