ADELAIDE will go into next Saturday's preliminary final against Hawthorn without another key forward following last night's courageous comeback against Fremantle at AAMI Stadium.
The 10-point win was soured by a left hamstring injury to Sam Shaw, who has virtually no hope of playing this week - and if an Adelaide miracle happens and they upset the Hawks - the week after in the grand final.
Jared Petrenko is also in serious doubt after injuring a shoulder in the dying minutes of an epic contest.
On song: The Crows celebrate their victory last night. Photo: Getty Images
Adelaide coach Brenton Sanderson described it as one of his team's best wins this season, not simply because it was a final, but because the Crows turned the game around after a poor first half.
Taylor Walker went from villain to hero after responding to giving away a foolish 50-metre penalty in the second quarter that cost a goal, to kicking a goal after the half-time siren to put the Crows within 13 points, and then kicking another four in the second half.
Sanderson said he believed Adelaide was better balanced after half-time. ''We had the balance back so were able to move the ball a bit more how we planned during the week,'' he said. ''Also, we defended a lot better.''
Sanderson added that he felt for Fremantle. ''They certainly threw everything at us, and they had the back-to-back six-day break and all that travel,'' he said. ''It has to take its toll … I thought if we could just keep in the game and keep the momentum going, eventually they would tire. I do admire what Freo has done. As happy as we feel now and as relieved as we feel after that first quarter, it is important to get back to business; recover and review, and then we will go into preparing for the Hawks as best we can."
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon was markedly upbeat, refusing to make excuses. The travelling schedule was irrelevant, Matthew Pavlich was on the ground and therefore fit, and Alex Silvagni, all things considered, had done a manful job on Walker. The Dockers had paid for not playing out the match, he said. ''Adelaide persisted until it turned their way,'' he said.
Lyon said it had been a season of many gains, but no laurel on which to sit. Michael Johnson, close to Fremantle's best last night, said he could not wait for the pre-season to begin.
Lyon believes Hawthorn is best-placed to win the premiership, ''but you only need to have one thing go wrong''. He, of all people, knows.