THE Sydney Swans, led by big-game performer Adam Goodes, stood up to all of their doubters and dumped Adelaide by 29 points in a tough second qualifying final at AAMI Stadium yesterday.
Coming off two losses, and going into this game with an appalling record here and against the Crows, Sydney left no doubt it is still very much in this premiership race by advancing to a home preliminary final.
It leaves Adelaide with the mountainous task against Geelong or Fremantle here on Friday night, and if somehow it recovers, it faces Hawthorn away. The finals dream has virtually been extinguished.
Goodes, whose ability in the latter part of this season had perhaps been most scrutinised, typified the ''I'll show you'' attitude and was an inspirational leader.
Adelaide capitulated under the enormous pressure, and remarkably had 22 more inside-50 entries and one more score, yet was never really in the hunt. And don't dare suggest it was unlucky.
The Crows cracked under the relentless pressure from Sydney, missing many easy shots.
At half-time it was Sydney 7.2 to 2.7, a reflection of how disciplined the Swans were in defence.
The Crows were hustled into mistakes, and Sydney advanced through a suspect defence with pace and brilliant execution of every skill in the book.
To kick 11.5 from only 37 inside-50 entries was outstanding. For Adelaide to be restricted to 5.12 from 59 entries was great defence rather than simply bad play from Adelaide.
Lewis Roberts-Thomson, whose forced return to the back lines because of the suspension of Heath Grundy, was supposed to hurt Sydney badly. It may have up forward, but in the end Sydney did not need a big score, and Roberts-Thomson was magnificent in defence against Kurt Tippett.
Ted Richards was also outstanding as he made it tough for Adelaide's other key forward, Taylor Walker, who had just two kicks for the game.
However, in a final that required someone to stand tall, Goodes was the man. He had 22 disposals - others had a lot more - but he was the one who really stamped his mark on the game in the first half that set up this win.
He kicked the first two goals of the match, and when Adelaide looked like responding well late in the second, it was Goodes again who goaled from 50 metres and virtually made the challenge too great for Adelaide.
There were many other magnificent performers for Sydney, and a close second to Goodes was Josh Kennedy with 35 hard-earned disposals - 21 of them contested.
Add Marty Mattner against his old club, Rhys Shaw, Ryan O'Keefe - another big-game player - Daniel Hannebery, and Shane Mumford, who matched the brilliance of Sam Jacobs in ruck, and Sydney looked great.
Adelaide not only let itself down badly kicking for goal, but it made far too many unforced errors.
A kick and/or handball a half-a-metre short or wide here and there saw Sydney swoop and clear.
After so many 100-plus-point games this season, the Crows were restricted to their lowest score since round 18 last year, against St Kilda, and not once this season have they been so starved of clear passages of play as they were yesterday.
Scott Thompson and Patrick Dangerfield battled gamely, while Michael Doughty, in his last campaign, Rory Sloane and David Mackay had their quality moments, but overall too many Crows failed to live up to the incredibly high expectations of a state.
Sydney looked so well-drilled, was admirably determined, and remained calm under the pressure. It was a thoroughly controlled performance, one expected of a top-four side come the finals.
In the opening 10 minutes of the third term Walker missed two set shots that he has nailed all season, and Mackay missed one on the run. The Crows could have easily got within a goal or two and reversed the pressure, but instead Sydney steadied.
From Goodes' goal moments before half-time, to Adelaide's third goal at the 22-minute mark of the third, there were 31 minutes of goal-less play, but like a classy soccer match it was still great to watch.
Players from both sides threw themselves at everything and everyone, a reminder that this is a game for the courageous.
Adelaide's endeavour should not be questioned; just its ability to perform on a bigger stage where the pressure can be unbearable.
They call it finals football, and Sydney played it so well.