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Bulldogs, Crows take narrow AFL wins

The Western Bulldogs hung on to score a thrilling six-point win over St Kilda at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night, while Adelaide staged a gritty comeback to defeat Brisbane.

A lacklustre first half gave way to an entertaining second in Melbourne, with the Bulldogs opening up a 21-point lead midway through the final term then holding off a desperate assault by the Saints to secure the 9.8 (62) to 7.14 (56) win.

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In pristine conditions under the roof, each side managed just three goals in a dour first half. It was in stark contrast to the last time they met in round six when the Dogs leapt out to a 55-point lead before the Saints stormed home in a scintillating encounter.

Both coaches appeared intent on generating numbers around the ball, which made for difficult viewing at times for the 26,511 fans at the ground.

Veteran St Kilda skipper Nick Riewoldt provided a rare highlight when he left much younger opponent Jordan Roughead in his wake in a brilliant display of gut running to set up a Darren Minchington goal that helped St Kilda to a three-point lead at halftime.

A complete change came over the contest in the third quarter, with the game opening up as both sides showed more attacking intent.

Josh Bruce kicked his second goal of the night inside the first 30 seconds but the Bulldogs quickly replied through Tom Boyd and seized the momentum.

With Bob Murphy leading the way, the Dogs piled on four goals to establish a 17-point lead but the Saints did well to weather the storm and make it a 10-point game, with a goal to Riewoldt, at the last change.

Goals to Bulldogs youngsters Toby McLean and Lukas Webb looked to have secured the premiership points for Luke Beveridge’s side but, as they have before this season, the Saints came surging back.

Riewoldt was the catalyst with his second goal and Bruce made it a nine-point deficit with his third after a towering contested mark in the goal square.

St Kilda looked irresistible as time ticked down but they peppered the goals with the last three points of the game in a costly display in front of goal, with the tenacious Dogs repelling one last attack before claiming a hard-fought win.

Elsewhere, another injury to Rory Sloane and a misfiring Taylor Walker could not stop Adelaide from grabbing a come-from-behind 13-point win over Brisbane.

Midfielder Sloane was subbed in the third term with a suspected broken jaw while captain Walker (2.5) still appeared hampered by a bruised hip in ominous signs for the Crows.

However, nothing it seems could deny Adelaide (7-5 record).

They dug deep to reel in a 24-point fourth term deficit to earn a much needed 11.16 (82) to 10.9 (69) win and stay in sight of a top eight finish.

An erratic Walker at one stage couldn’t take a trick, prompting one Crows fan to unfurl a banner boasting a target behind the goal-posts.

But all was forgiven when Walker finally rediscovered his radar and kicked a booming 50m goal in the 21st minute of the final term – the first time Adelaide enjoyed the lead.

In the end Adelaide kicked six straight majors and kept a gutsy Lions goalless in the final term to notch a crunch win.

Adelaide’s second victory in three games was a much needed shot in the arm ahead of a tough block of games that may define their top eight chances – Geelong (home), West Coast (away) and Port (away).

The Crows will still be sweating on their talisman Walker who appeared hampered by injury all game and did not register the first of two goals until six minutes into the third term.

And Sloane is another major concern after being subbed in the 13th minute of the third term clutching his jaw.

He had only just come back from a broken jaw for Adelaide.

It was another disappointing fadeout for Brisbane who had hoped to snap a four game losing run and notch their third win of the year and first since May 17.

The Lions have lost seven of their past eight at home, their worst run in five years.

– with AAP

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