REIGNING premier Adelaide has staged a dramatic late fightback to overcome a gallant St Kilda at Hisense Stadium on Sunday.
The Crows trailed for almost the entire game before clutch goals to debutant Caitlin Gould and second-gamer Madison Newman late in the final quarter turned the tide and delivered a 13-point victory.
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Eloise Jones kicked a goal as the siren sounded as the Crows got home 6.4 (40) to 4.3 (27), bouncing back after last weekend's opening round loss to Brisbane.
The Saints were extremely close to breaking through for the expansion club's inaugural NAB AFLW victory with a much-improved performance on last weekend's first-up loss to the Western Bulldogs.
Both teams struggled to convert their opportunities early before it was the Saints who struck first blood, speedster Kate McCarthy capitalising on a Crows turnover and unleashing a burst of pace to kick the only goal in a tight first quarter.
Played opened up after the break as the game developed into an entertaining end-to-end contest with four goals shared evenly among the sides in a gripping second term, with the Saints leading by seven points at half-time.
With the game in the balance late in the final quarter, Gould took a pack mark in the goalsquare to tie the scores before fellow newcomer Newman nailed a set shot on the run to the roars of the 6433-strong crowd.
Key Crows Ebony Marinoff and Anne Hatchard dominated the midfield, veteran Courtney Gum was influential when moved around the ball, Sarah Allan was a rock in defence and ruck Jess Foley took vital intercept marks.
Tarni White, Georgia Patrikios and Tilly Lucas-Rodd were outstanding for the Saints.
The only injury concern for the Saints was defender Clara Fitzpatrick, who was stretchered off with concussion in the last quarter after courageously going back with the flight of the ball.
It was two of the Crows young guns who stood up tall when the game was on the line. Debutant Caitlin Gould clunked a big mark in goalsquare before kicking the goal to tie the game in the last quarter. Second-gamer Madison Newman then put the Crows ahead with a beautiful shot on the run.
Former GWS star Courtney Gum was going to play as a forward for the Crows after coming out of retirement this season. But her move to the midfield in the second half turned the tide. Gum was strong at the contest and enabled the Crows to over-run the Saints late in the game.
One to watch
Saints winger Georgia Patrikios is going to be a star of the competition for years to come. The fifth overall pick in last year's NAB AFLW Draft, Patrikios was dynamic through the midfield for the Saints, finding plenty of the ball and using it well. The Crows were unable to contain her run and carry.
Work in progress
The Saints were much improved on their first-up loss to the Western Bulldogs. Stationing an extra player in defence, the Saints made it hard for the Crows to generate clean attacking opportunities. Coach Peta Searle has a lot to work with heading into the rest of the season.
"The whole second half I was pretty happy with how we were playing, and sometimes as a coach, that's the most challenging point. In the end, we got away with one." - Crows coach Matthew Clarke.
"Disappointed, but proud. Last week, I was disappointed and flat, because I knew we were a better side than what we produced. I said to the girls we've got to raise the bar from last week, and they certainly did that." – Saints coach Peta Searle.
The Crows have a second straight Sunday twilight fixture, this time against Geelong at GMHBA Stadium at 5.10pm AEDT. Meanwhile, the Saints have a quick five-day turnaround before they host unbeaten Melbourne at RSEA Park on Friday night at 7.10pm AEDT.
FULL FIXTURE Every round, every game
ADELAIDE 0.0 2.1 3.2 6.4 (40)
ST KILDA 1.1 3.2 4.2 4.3 (27)
Adelaide: Considine, Biddell, Thompson, Gould, Newman, Jones
St Kilda: Greiser 2, McCarthy, Sedunary
Adelaide: Marinoff, Hatchard, Gum, Allan, J Foley, Rajcic
St Kilda: White, Patrikios, Lucas-Rodd, Exon, Vesely, Munn
St Kilda: Fitzpatrick (concussion)
St Kilda: Nil
Crowd: 6433 at Hisense Stadium