Adelaide Crows outclass Sydney Swans in AFL thriller

Adelaide captain Taylor Walker has kicked the Crows to a 10-point AFL win over Sydney.
Adelaide captain Taylor Walker has kicked the Crows to a 10-point AFL win over Sydney.

An undermanned Adelaide have held off a late Sydney charge to seize an enthralling 10-point AFL win.

A much-improved Crows outfit shook off the absence of their injured masses and lifted under immense pressure at the SCG to squeeze and suffocate the Swans throughout a commanding first half on Friday night.

Though they appeared to prematurely release their grip when the hosts suddenly lifted for an utterly dominant third quarter, Lance Franklin's early fourth-quarter miss allowed under-fire skipper Taylor Walker to lead his side to a 12.13 (85) to 10.15 (75) victory.

Walker's four-goal performance went a long way to silencing the critics circling this week, while Josh Jenkins and Rory Atkins contributed three each.

In all, Adelaide's sharp display drew a line under their sluggish start to the campaign and last week's shock home loss to Collingwood.

"Last week was really disappointing and the guys felt that, and they're a really proud group so I was always confident we'd get a response," Crows coach Don Pyke said.

"We had a couple of setbacks during the week so for them to come out and play the way they did and get that result was just outstanding."

The Swans were unable to hold their nerve in the same manner as last weekend's escape against the depleted Western Bulldogs.

Sydney coach John Longmire rued the slow start.

"We just didn't win our contests, they were better at it than us," Longmire said.

"You need to win the ball where it matters - it's very difficult to get proactive when you're not winning the footy."

Sydney tried to pick their moments but wasted a number of critical chances in the final quarter, while key players Luke Parker, Josh Kennedy and Dan Hannebery found themselves starved of the ball.

The reliance on Franklin didn't help and the star forward was swarmed at nearly every touch.

His only goal did add to his extensive highlights reel. Franklin pounced on a second-term turnover from prolific ball-winner Rory Laird (game-high 30 disposals) and launched a kick from about 70m that took a bounce and continued through the main posts.

Moments later Walker responded in kind, unloading from long range.

By halftime his team should have engineered a buffer far more handy than 16 points, as another sloppy mistake allowed Kieren Jack to goal with 16 seconds on the clock.

It spurred the Swans to life in the third term and snaps by Harry Cunningham and Gary Rohan, in his first match since the tragic passing of his baby daughter last week, closed the gap to four points.

But while the Swans closed the quarter with 20 inside 50s to Adelaide's six they managed only two goals as Adelaide held firm to keep a nine-point lead.

They extended in the final quarter before Franklin missed a set shot and Isaac Heeney spurned another couple of shots at goal.

Rohan and George Hewett ensured Sydney weren't finished but they needed late goals and when a score review went against them the boilover was sealed.

Australian Associated Press