Melbourne livewire Kysaiah Pickett again faces scrutiny for high contact with an opponent after the Demons extended their winning streak to four matches with a 15-point victory over Adelaide.

Christian Petracca was outstanding and Bayley Fritsch kicked three goals in an important third-quarter burst to set up the Demons’ 10.18 (78) to 8.15 (63) triumph in the Gather Round opener at Adelaide Oval on Thursday night.

It left the winless Crows’ season teetering on the brink with four straight losses ahead of a testing interstate trip to take on Carlton next week.

Petracca finished with 29 disposals, eight clearances and a goal while midfield mates Tom Sparrow (20 touches, five clearances), Jack Viney (19, three) and Clayton Oliver (16, six) all had influence at different stages.

Captain Max Gawn (15 disposals, five clearances) led from the front in the ruck and young defender Judd McVee (20 touches) impressed again.

Back after just one week out with fractured ribs, key defender Steven May grimaced in pain after an early bump and did well to hold Crows spearhead Taylor Walker to one goal.

Melbourne have some cause for concern after Pickett left the ground in an attempt to smother Crow Jake Soligo’s handpass before tucking his arm in and collecting his opponent high.

The contact did not cause major damage to Soligo, who was one of Adelaide’s best players on the night.

Pickett, who kicked two goals from 11 disposals, was twice suspended for high bumps on opponents last year.

“Obviously he was trying to smother a handball and that will be looked at through the week, I’m sure, but we’ll just wait and see with that,” Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin said.

“He puts enormous pressure on, he tries to intercept the ball — that’s his game.

“He’s modified a lot of what he’s done previously and I don’t see that in his game much at all anymore. Tonight’s a little bit different.”

The win in front of 48,020 fans completed a successful trip to South Australia for Melbourne, who beat Port Adelaide at the same venue five days earlier.

Melbourne’s defence — with Jake Lever and Steven May — coped with the Crows attack to ensure a win for the Demons in Adelaide for the second week running. (Getty Images: AFL Photos/Dylan Burns)

“I’m really happy and proud of what they’ve been able to do,” Goodwin said.

“To come to Adelaide and play two really good teams and come away with two wins is a huge effort by our boys.

“To back it up from five days ago in the first game of Gather Round, big stage, to deliver again — I’m just so proud of our players.”

Adelaide’s Matt Crouch (29 disposals, five clearances), Mitch Hinge (24, four) and Soligo (27, seven) fought hard in a losing battle, and Darcy Fogarty kicked two goals.

The Crows and Demons played a tightly-contested and highly physical match.(Getty Images: AFL Photos/Michael Willson)

The Crows started brightly, dominating the clearance and territory battles in the first term, but their wastefulness in front of goal meant their lead was just five points at quarter-time.

They were made to pay when Demons trio Kade Chandler, Pickett and Jacob van Rooyen kicked consecutive goals in time-on of the second term to give the visitors a 17-point halftime buffer.

It swelled to 33 points when Fritsch booted all three of his majors in the third quarter.

Adelaide challenged in the final term and got within 13 points but had left themselves with too much work to do.

“There’s just incredible frustration amongst all of us,” Crows coach Matthew Nicks said.

“We get glimpses of who we know we can be and then we have periods of time where we look so far off with fundamentals and execution and decision-making.”

Look back at how the action unfolded in our live blog.

Key events

Live scores

That’s it from the blog tonight!

One down, eight to go for Gather Round. It’s a tough one to swallow for the Crows, who are rapidly recalibrating their season expectations. Demons fans, on the other hand, are on the road to something significant this year you feel.

We’ll leave the blog here for tonight, but I will be back tomorrow for two — that’s right, TWO — Friday games. The Lions and Kangaroos are first up, before Port Adelaide take on Essendon.

Hope to see you then!

Adelaide’s next month

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No doubt internally the Crows will be talking about that Swans team that came back from 0-6 to make finals, but it honestly seems like a ridiculous long shot at this point. The Crows are fundamentally broken, look slow and unskilled compared to the league’s best teams, and closer to a bottom four side than one in finals contention.

Their next four game:

  • Carlton at Docklands (Uh oh)
  • Essendon at Adelaide Oval (Seriously tricky)
  • North Melbourne in Tasmania (Must-win, but really not easy)
  • Showdown against Port Adelaide (Yikes)

Key Event

FT: Demons prevail by 15 points to leave Crows 0-4

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The Demons have come to Adelaide and knocked off both local teams, beating Port Adelaide and Adelaide on the same ground inside a week.

Melbourne probably weren’t quite at their best tonight, but they also intentionally played a style of game that shut down Adelaide’s best assets and gave them the greatest chance to win. They kept it tight, kept it contested and let their quality and class shine.

For Adelaide, I’m not sure where they go from here. Next up is Carlton away, which the Crows will most certainly not be favourites in. Finals look a mile off, and probably impossible at this point for a team that was supposed to be on the up. Matthew Nicks will face questions, and looking at the 22 that ran out today I’m not sure there are obvious answers.

Christian Petracca was great for Melbourne, as were the key pair of Jake Lever and Steven May. Jake Soligo was impressive for Adelaide, but it’s difficult to pick too many Crows beyond that.

Little mistakes costing Crows as the clock ebbs away

Mark Keane took a fantastic intercept mark at half-forward, but he quickly then put his kick out on the full. The Demons have shut down in this quarter, but they’re doing enough too keep the Crows at bay.

There was also a period of six minutes after his goal when Jordan Dawson couldn’t get off the bench and back onto the field. A costly spell with Adelaide’s captain and best player not in the action.

Two minutes to play, and Adelaide might have missed the moment now.

A goal has followed two mistakes for Rachele

The first came when he inexplicably spoiled the ball away from a leading Taylor Walker, the second when he blazed away from 60 metres out for a behind instead of setting up a teammate.

The Crows simply must make good decision from here on out, and those were a couple of bad ones from Josh Rachele.

5:30 to play.

Josh Rachele snaps through another! Crows have life!

Jake Lever wasn’t happy with the free kick, but wisely bit his tongue. There was just the tiniest hold on Rachele in the marking contest, but enough for the umpire to blow the whistle and open the door for the Crows.

Adelaide are having a dip. It’s still not pretty, but it’s got the margin back to just 15 points.

Jordan Dawson gets one back for Adelaide!

The captain steps up! He outbodied Trent Rivers just outside the goalsquare, and once the umpire ticked off the mark you could put the goal in the books.

Finally a goal in this final quarter. There’s 10:20 on the clock, and Melbourne’s lead is 22 points.

Still no goals in this last quarter

There’s only 13:30 left on the clock, and the Crows haven’t fired a shot in the last term. It’s not out of reach yet, but it’s only a few minutes or one Melbourne goal away from it.

Izak Rankine holds the key

Adelaide’s priority for the rest of this quarter needs to be getting Rankine the ball as often as possible. His first touch of the term saw him break a tackle and lace out Taylor Walker, who promptly missed his shot. His second action was a long-range shot that was a Steven May fingernail away from going through.

Priority number two needs to be actually taking some of their chances.

Key Event

3QT: Demons out to a 28-point lead over Crows

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Adelaide made a move in that quarter to try to open the game up, to take some risks and be more expansive in their attack. It worked to a certain extent, but also left the back door open for Melbourne to walk on through.

Bayley Fritsch was the Demons’ star in that quarter with three goals, but you could argue that the Adelaide midfield has gotten the better of Melbourne tonight. The trouble has been converting that into any sort of competitive score, and we’ve been talking about those problems all night.

Matthew Nicks needs to pull something out — something great enough to win this quarter by five goals — or else it’s an 0-4 start and disaster for Adelaide.

Darcy Fogarty hits straight back with a pure drop punt

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Goodness me, does he kick the footy well. From the corner of the arc and the boundary line, that ball has just erupted off Fogarty’s right boot.

Never looked like missing. Crows hanging in there.

Jacob van Rooyen has a second for Melbourne

Blake Howes set shot fell short and towards a massive pack of players, but van Rooyen was in the box seat. He held his position, stuck up a hand and directed the ball back down into his lap for a cracking contested mark.

The shot for goal was never in doubt. Melbourne lead by 31 with five minutes to play in the third.

Keays gets one back! Much better from Adelaide!

Best Crows passage of play for the night. The Demons looked like they raffling off their 10th goal of the night, but from the moment Windsor was run down lining up a shot the Crows went to work.

Quick handballs, an aggressive inboard kick from Dawson and eventually Walker out the back. He took the mark, gave off the handball and got this crowd into the game at last.

Make it three for Fritsch! Demons kick away

It’s the same old story for Adelaide. Another forward entry burned by a terrible turnover, and they’re hurt the other way.

Fritsch marked on centre wing and Parnell knocked the ball out of his hands, coughing up another 50m penalty and giving Fritsch the chance to kick his third of the term.

Bayley Fritsch! Outstanding goal for Melbourne!

I’m still trying to work out he took the contested mark about 60 from goal. But while that was being pondered, he landed on his feet, spun towards goal, surveyed a completely open 50 and bounced it through.

The Crows have clearly changed their attacking plans in this quarter and are having a real go, but the Demons just have class in front of goal that Adelaide can’t match right now.

Taylor Walker kicks a crucial Adelaide goal

Some good work off the ball blocked Steven May and allowed Taylor Walker a run and jump at the footy, after a period of slow and patient ball movement by Adelaide.

Tex kicks the goal and Adelaide pull it back to a 19-point game.

Bayley Fritsch extends Melbourne’s lead

And very early in the third quarter, it’s already getting tough for Adelaide.

Mitch Hinge wanted to try to move the ball with purpose through the middle of the ground, but the flip side to that is what happens when you turn it over. Clayton Oliver pinched it, quickly went long to Fritsch and let him do the rest.

Christian Petracca leading the way again

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Sixteen disposals, four clearances and a goal already for Petracca, who has provided the quality needed in a game like this.

Jake Soligo is leading the way with 16 touches for Adelaide, and I’ve been impressed with his game. He’s one of the few Crows midfielders with a turn of pace and a bit of creativity, and it stands out.

Key Event

HT: Demons burst out to a 17-point lead over Crows

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Adelaide would have been happy enough to take a slender deficit into the break, but those two late goals are killers. They both came from rare occasions in which Melbourne have managed to get some space off half-back, punishing the Crows both times.

The Crows are still struggling to score. There’s a school of thought that when playing Adelaide, all you need to do is make it ugly and they can’t beat you. That might be playing out again today.

Melbourne are the classier team and will be happy to grind this one out all night. Adelaide will need to find some creativity and spark going forward to capitalise on the decent work they’re doing elsewhere on the ground.