A near full-strength Adelaide has held off a late surge from Gold Coast to win by 25 points in their final NAB Challenge clash on Friday.
Missing only dropped pair Brad Crouch and Rory Atkins from their best 22, the Crows prevailed 3.12.10 (109) to 0.11.18 (84) on a dewey night at Metricon Stadium that failed to reach any great heights.
Adelaide duo Scott Thompson (30 disposals) and Matt Crouch (28) dominated the midfield and were best afield but there were plenty of positives for the Suns, who staged a mini-comeback in the final term and closed to within 12 points before their resistance was finally snapped late on.
Still, coach Rodney Eade will be largely satisfied with the performance in the circumstances as Gold Coast looks towards a winnable season opener at home to Essendon on March 26, and the Crows to an away clash against North Melbourne on the same day.
Aaron Hall continued his superb pre-season with 30 touches and two goals, while Adam Saad appears to have successfully carried the momentum from his blistering rookie year in the AFL into this season, silencing All-Australian goalsneak Eddie Betts.
But while the Suns had 12 more contested possessions and three more clearances, they saw far less of the ball overall with just 346 disposals compared to Adelaide’s 429.
They were also inaccurate in front of goal early and often too slow at moving the ball across the field.
They will welcome the additions of skipper Gary Ablett and Dion Prestia round one, although there is no return date set for their other injured midfield stars Jaeger O’Meara and David Swallow.
The Crows took a two-point lead into half-time but broke away upon their return, scoring three of the first four goals of the third term – the latter two nine-pointers to Jarryd Lyons and Taylor Walker – to pad out their lead.
Defender Daniel Talia did an excellent job on sluggish Suns vice-captain Tom Lynch, and boom youngster Wayne Milera – drafted with one of the picks Adelaide received as part of the Patrick Dangerfield trade to Geelong – strengthened his case for a round one AFL debut with two flashy goals.