Adelaide’s outstanding forward pairing of Eddie Betts and Taylor Walker combined for eight goals as the Crows edged out the brave but inaccurate Western Bulldogs by seven points on Saturday night in a thrilling AFL elimination final at the MCG.
The Crows have rallied magnificently since the tragic mid-season death of coach Phil Walsh and the emotional journey will continue for at least one more week.
The 16.13 (109) to 14.18 (102) victory pitches Adelaide into a semi-final against Hawthorn back at the MCG next Saturday night.
The Bulldogs were gallant in defeat but will rue their inaccuracy in front of the big sticks – especially in the third term, when they missed several simple shots.
There was never more than 15 points separating the two teams after quarter-time.
But when it mattered most, in the dying minutes of the final term, it was the Crows who had the edge.
Captain Walker set up the sealer for Charlie Cameron, marking on the wing and setting off on a long run before spearing a brilliant pass to the goalsneak.
The first quarter was played at breakneck speed.
The Bulldogs scorched out of the blocks and had three goals on the board in the blink of an eye.
But Adelaide refused to be rattled, kicking six of the next seven goals to claim a nine-point lead at the first break.
Three of those goals came from livewire Betts, who also found time to set up another major score for Rory Sloane.
The pace remained hot in the second term, although the scoring eased off somewhat, with each team kicking three goals.
The pick of them was a flying snap from Bulldogs excitement machine Jake Stringer.
At the other end, Crows youngster Riley Knight pointed to the sky after goaling in tribute to Walsh.
Marcus Bontempelli, Mitch Wallis and Jarrad Grant were among the Bulldogs to miss straightforward shots for goal in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs still managed to wrest back the lead midway through the final quarter with Tory Dickson’s fifth goal and another clever snap from Stringer, only for Walker and Cameron to reply at the other end.
The crowd of 60,782 justified the decision to schedule the match at the MCG rather than at the Bulldogs’ home ground of Etihad Stadium, where the capacity is 54,000.