The Saints looked the better side early in the game when they applied fierce pressure but once the Crows lifted their intensity about midway through the first quarter they gradually took control.
From that point on the Saints battled to create enough scoring chances with Adelaide’s experienced defenders Daniel Talia and Rory Laird controlling play to make the Saints’ key forwards ineffective.
Adelaide’s midfield kept it simple
After losing Bryce Gibbs to a virus before the game, the Crows midfield knew they had to work hard and they did.
The Crouch brothers and Rory Sloane were effective around the stoppages while Rory Atkins kept the effective Jack Billings relatively quiet until midway through the third quarter when the Saint lifted his workrate.
The Crows didn’t attempt to create the perfect forward entry, but they attacked through the middle of the ground and long kicking defenders such as Brodie Smith were happy enough to lob the ball on top of their forward’s heads at the top of the square.
Goalkicking accuracy helped the Crows
Adelaide first six goals came from set shots with the Crows having 6.0 on the scoreboard by the middle of the second quarter before Hugh Greenwood kicked their first behind when he snapped from the stoppage.
It contrasted from the Saints’ accuracy in front of goal with Jack Steven and Josh Bruce both missing gettable shots in the first half while Matthew Parker squandered a goalkicking opportunity when he tried to pass the ball to Jack Billings but Talia, who was standing on the mark, intercepted the kick.
It was telling as it kept the scores tight when St Kilda was dominating in the first quarter. Adelaide finished with 12.4 from set shots.
Injury to Jack Lonie hurt Saints
Just before quarter time, the Saints’ small forward Jack Lonie took a strong mark on the lead in front of Crows’ defender Rory Laird near the interchange bench at Marvel Stadium.
Unfortunately his right knee hyperextended as he landed awkwardly and he slumped to the ground in pain.
Medical staff helped Lonie down the players’ race and St Kilda was one down for the remainder of the game.
His injury added to the Saints’ problems as they had lost in form ruckman Rowan Marshall before the game due to illness with Billy Longer shouldering the ruck load.
Matthew Parker is a highlight reel
Parker’s energy and enthusiasm inspired his teammates as his three goals were the result of individual brilliance.
His first came in the first quarter when he threw the ball on to outside of his foot as space closed around him and the ball sailed through the goals post high.
He then took a screamer with less than a minute remaining in the first half and kicked a set shot.
It was enough to keep the Saints in touch and he was needed again midway through the third quarter when he finished off a great passage of play by rising high above his opponent on the goalline to take a mark on his chest before playing on, dodging an opponent and kicking a goal that had the crowd roaring.
ADELAIDE 3.0 8.1 10.6 15.7 (97) ST KILDA 3.6 5.6 8.7 10.8 (68)
GOALS Adelaide: Walker 4, Murphy 3, Betts 2, Himmelberg 2, Greenwood, Gallucci, Knight, Lynch.
St Kilda: Parker 3, Membrey 2, Long, Paton, Kent, Gresham, Steven.
BEST Adelaide: Walker, Smith, Matt Crouch, Laird, Brad Crouch, Keath.
St Kilda: Ross, Savage, Steven, Steele, Sinclair.
INJURIES Adelaide: Gibbs (ill) replaced in selected side by Gallucci. St Kilda: Lonie (knee).
CROWD 28,421 at Marvel Stadium.
Peter Ryan is a sports reporter with The Age covering AFL, horse racing and other sports.