Ugly and inconsistent, this was not the art of winning that Adelaide coach Brenton Sanderson has been teaching his AFL side over the past two and a half years.
But the Crows nonetheless escaped from Sunday’s fixture against Western Bulldogs with a nine-point victory, and incredibly sore ribs in the case of superstar Patrick Dangerfield.
Sanderson suggested the 13.14 (92) to 12.11 (83) victory at Etihad Stadium would not be among the more memorable triumphs of his club.
But in joining five sides on 3-3 after six rounds it could be among the more meaningful of 2014.
“These wins on the road are really important,” Sanderson said.
“We didn’t have many winners today. I spoke to the players and (said) sometimes you just have to win ugly.
“I won’t spend too much time reviewing this game, because it’s not a good one to watch.”
This was footy at its most peculiar.
The ’Dogs shot out to a 28-point lead in the second quarter, having kicked the first four goals of the game.
Adelaide poured on eight consecutive goals in response, then somehow lost the momentum.
The hosts hit the front in the final term, only for Crows Matthew Wright and Josh Jenkins to kick the easiest of clutch goals.
Dangerfield was felled by a Daniel Giansiracusa bump shortly before three-quarter time, and typified his side’s grunt.
This was not the sort of Dangerfield dominance we have come to expect - spectacular runs through the middle and incredible goals.
But with seven tackles, seven clearances and a game-high 22 contested possessions, his impact was telling.
“His first half was amazing. He got us back in the game I felt,“ Sanderson said of Dangerfield.
“He’ll jump in the ice bath tonight and probably soak in it for a couple of hours.”
Sanderson said Giansiracusa’s hit reflected the sort of attention Dangerfield had come to expect.
“Unfortunately he’s going to have to live with that for the rest of his career,” he said.
“It’s not the opposition always hitting him. He puts his body in positions that most of us wouldn’t.”
Lin Jong did his best to blanket Dangerfield, and the 20-year-old earned the praise of coach Brendan McCartney.
“(If told pre-game) Patrick wouldn’t kick any goals ... and not smash or split the game open, we’d probably take it,” McCartney said.
McCartney forecast changes to his side, lamenting their two poor terms that turned the game.
“The second quarter it was our inability to compete around the ball,” he said.
“The third quarter we got a bit of stage fright moving it.”