By STEVE BARRETT
Adelaide snapped a five-game losing streak and leapt from last to seventh on the SANFL Statewide Super League ladder with a hard-fought 10-point victory over fast-finishing Sturt at Unley Oval.
The Crows had looked in complete control when they led by 45 points midway through the third term and were still up by 34 points early in the fourth before being forced to stave off a late Double Blues rally.
Midfielder Jackson Hately accumulated 23 of his match-high 31 possessions after half-time to go with seven clearances and a goal for the visitors, who leapfrogged past the Double Blues, Central District and West Adelaide with the result.
Ruckman Kieran Strachan (18 disposals, 37 hitouts) was the match’s most influential player, while Billy Frampton (16 touches, three majors, 11 hitouts) proved too much for Luke Edmonds in attack and a more than adequate back-up for Strachan at the stoppages.
Sturt on-baller James Battersby (25 possessions) worked typically hard all afternoon, Casey Voss (22 disposals, 11 marks) piloted the Blues’ back six admirably and Mani Liddy (20 touches, seven clearances) showed again he belongs at this level.
Josh Hone (three goals) got on the board four minutes in for the hosts, who had the better of things early before the Crows fought back and trimmed Sturt’s advantage to two points at quarter-time.
SANFL debutant and 2019 draftee Lachlan Gollant demonstrated his contested marking prowess, goaling early and giving Adelaide the lead for good in what became a lopsided second stanza.
Nick Murray soared above giant duo Strachan and Hamish Allan in front of the grandstand to snare a mark-of-the-year contender as the Crows went from strength to strength, aided by some shoddy Sturt turnovers.
Frampton’s bomb from 50m put Adelaide firmly in the box seat, the Double Blues held goalless for the quarter and down by 21 points at half-time.
Big Billy marked powerfully in front of Edmonds and goaled again to start the third term which continued the same way.
When Mitchell Marini converted his second courtesy of a free kick, Hately blazed from long range and Strachan connected truly after holding onto a neat mark, Sturt looked shot.
Down by 45 points and without a goal since the 17-minute mark of the opening period, Hone broke the drought at the 17-minute mark following a 25m penalty against Luke Pedlar, who had his shirt ripped in the ensuing scuffle as the Blues finally showed some fight.
Hone made it back-to-back six-pointers after zigzagging past James Borlase and by three-quarter-time Adelaide’s cushion was reduced to 27 points.
Crows speedster Tariek Newchurch was rewarded for his jet-heeled burst through the middle with a six-pointer to extend Adelaide’s lead again early in the final stanza
The remainder of the fourth quarter was on Sturt’s terms, the Double Blues motoring to the finish line with the last four majors without reply, but ultimately left with too much to do and not enough time.
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