Yet another starring effort from Erin Phillips has put Adelaide in a sensational position with one game to play, her side holding off a challenge by Fremantle to win by four points in hot and humid conditions at TIO Stadium.
The league’s reigning best and fairest, who is still playing with a quadricep injury, kicked three goals out of the goal square and handed off another.
Angela Foley was also a key contributor for the Crows, holding out the surging Dockers particularly in the second and third quarters, while Chelsea Randall and Sarah Allan stood up in the big moments defensively.
Fremantle had the momentum for the majority of the match and even had a one-goal lead in the third term, but again the inability to convert possession into scores over four quarters came back to haunt them.
The win puts Adelaide temporarily in second spot with three matches to come in round six, and it means they will be well and truly in the thick of it come round seven.
Though the Crows would gain the early ascendancy, they were on the back foot for most of the first term.
The first goal of the match came from a predictable source as Erin Phillips, playing one-out close to goal, was able to keep her feet against Alex Williams and turn to walk into an open goal.
From then on, the Crows were forced to defend heavily, and though they were able to hold Freo out for the most part, a silly mistake would get the Dockers on the board.
Jenna McCormick gave away a free kick for a high front-on bump as well as a 50 metre penalty, bringing Lara Filocamo into range and allowing her the chance to slot home from a tight angle.
More desperate defending followed as Stephanie Cain and Kara Donnellan pressed, but the attacking approach left plenty of space in transition for Adelaide to exploit.
Sarah Perkins gathered and bombed long to another one-on-one featuring Phillips and Williams, and again it was the Crows’ co-captain who was able to remain cool and gather to kick her second.
Dana Hooker would erase McCormick’s error by giving away an unnecessary 50 metre penalty, tossing the ball away from Marijana Rajcic and bringing her into range, converting from distance to give her side a 10-point lead at the first break.
Phillips rolled her dominance over to the second term, taking a strong overhead mark and returning the favour to Perkins, dishing it off to her teammate for her first goal of the season.
Just like the first term, Fremantle would press but continued to waste good opportunities.
It would take another free kick for Freo to get the breakthrough, with Ashlee Atkins the beneficiary of a free for going below the knees and calmly kicking the important goal.
The Dockers got away with a couple of chances that should’ve been Phillips goals, first when Ebony Antonio fumbled in the goal square and second when the umpire didn’t pay what looked to be another controlled overhead mark from Phillips.
Freo had controlled plenty of the play and possession, but couldn’t make any meaningful dent in Adelaide’s lead.
But the Dockers would immediately cut into Adelaide’s lead after half-time, needing only 14 seconds for Hayley Miller to clear and Antonio, who had been swung forward, to keep her feet at the fall of the ball and snap truly.
Shortly after, Freo hit the front from another mental lapse by Adelaide, as Ebony Marinoff ran straight across the mark after handballing back to Dana Hooker, bringing her comfortably in range and claiming a four-point lead for her side.
Had it not been for the increased efforts of Angela Foley in the defensive half, the Crows could’ve been even further in the hole.
But after some dogged work in the back 50, the Crows took advantage of a half chance as Jess Sedunary led a pack of players to get her boot on the ball first and regain the lead for her team before the final change.
Phillips again had a marking decision go against her, this time correctly, but the Dockers players switched off and allowed the superstar to snap a goal which pushed the margin out to nine points with 10 minutes to play.
It would be a frantic finish after Donnellan played on under pressure, but was able to pinpoint Hooker running into goal with five minutes left.
But Adelaide maintained control in the remaining minutes, and a few spectacular defensive efforts from Sarah Allan and Chelsea Randall ensured the Crows’ season would remain alive.
Though the Dockers only had a slight chance of making the Grand Final prior to the match, any mathematical chance is now gone.
But for the Crows, a Grand Final berth is more realistic than ever, a testament to the team’s determination after dropping the first two matches of the season.
Adelaide: 3.0, 4.0, 5.1, 6.4 (40)
Fremantle: 1.2, 2.4, 4.6, 5.6 (36)
Adelaide: Erin Phillips 3, Marijana Rajcic, Sarah Perkins, Jessica Sedunary
Fremantle: Dana Hooker 2, Lara Filocamo, Ashlee Atkins, Ebony Antonio
Adelaide: Angela Foley (14), Courtney Cramey (12), Sarah Allan (11), Chelsea Randall (11)
Fremantle: Dana Hooker (20), Kara Donnellan (16), Hayley Miller (16), Lisa Webb (16)
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