Sturt’s Ash Johnson soaked up plenty of pressure to kick the match-winning goal in his side’s pulsating one-point win against Adelaide at Unley Oval.
Trailing by six points entering time-on of the final quarter, Johnson missed a chance to tie up the scores when he booted a behind from his 40m set shot in the 24th minute.
But the mercurial Double Blues forward didn’t have to wait much longer for another opportunity, when he marked a nice pass from Mark Evans deep in the south-western pocket.
Opting not to kick a checkside, Johnson calmly slotted his major from a tough angle in conventional fashion, from 20m out nearing the 27th minute of the fourth term.
It would be the most vital of Johnson’s difference-making four goals for the afternoon as the hosts would cling on during the frantic final stages with the ball camped inside Adelaide’s forward 50m arc.
Ken Farmer Medallist Evans also had an impact on the scoreboard with three goals while Abe Davis made a welcome return from a hamstring strain to chalk up 33 disposals, 11 marks and a goal for Sturt.
Captain James Battersby was important around the stoppages with 27 disposals and seven clearances while Guy Page continues to enjoy an injury-free run this year, finishing with 26 touches and seven marks.
Adelaide’s Josh Worrell led the way on his team’s stats sheet with 22 disposals and six marks while experienced Daniel Jackson had 21 disposals and two goals.
First-round draft pick Chayce Jones found more of the ball to tally 20 disposals, as did Western Australian draftee Ronin O’Connor, who showed encouraging signs while also registering 10 tackles and eight clearances for the Crows.
Port Adelaide produced its most impressive performance of the season with a stunning 60-point win against Woodville-West Torrens at Alberton Oval.
Despite losing last round’s star – Sam Powell-Pepper – to AFL selection, the Magpies were irresistible during a rampant second quarter in which they slammed on 7.4 to the Eagles’ 1.0.
This gave the hosts an ominous-looking 47-point break during half-time as they cruised to their second victory of the season during the final two terms in front of the black-and-white faithful.
Port coach Matt Lokan would have been delighted with his side’s transition and ball use as his men did as they pleased before the main change as promising forward Ben Edwards nailed his four goals in the match-defining period.
Veteran midfielder Tom Rockliff was outstanding for Port, collecting 34 disposals and eight clearances before being forced from the field with what appeared to be a knee injury in the final term.
The former Lions captain was unable to return to the game before leaving the field after the final siren with the aid of crutches.
Magpies captain Cam Sutcliffe was a major instigator when the game was hot early on, kicking a ripping goal – featured in the clip below – from the boundary to get the scoreboard ticking over.
The former Docker finished with three majors to go with his 25 disposals and six tackles while Kane Farrell also displayed positive signs in collecting 31 possessions and six marks.
It was a dirty day for the favoured Eagles, who were without star utility Jack Hayes as a late withdrawal.
Ball magnet James Tsitas racked up a game-high 39 touches and a clever goal assist in the clip below while former Crow Riley Knight continued his good form with 33 disposals, seven marks, seven clearances and a goal.