Melbourne down Crows in AFL crunch match

Forward Tom McDonald has slotted three goals as Melbourne out-muscled Adelaide for a precious 13-point win to rise to fifth on the AFL ladder.

The Demons twice recovered from 20 points down to triumph 13.12 (90) to 10.17 (77) on Saturday night at Adelaide Oval.

Melbourne crept within two premiership points of fourth-placed GWS after snapping Adelaide with five unanswered goals in the third quarter.

"To show that character and belief ... I thought it was outstanding," Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin said.

"To be in a position where we were 20 points down early and clearly not playing our best footy, to come back and have that sort of response was certainly a great way to play."

The Crows, last year's losing grand finalist, slip further from play-off reckoning: they're 12th, two wins outside the eight.

"That third quarter ... most of the damage was done," Adelaide coach Don Pyke said.

"It was a regretful 15 minutes of footy ... we weren't anywhere near the level we need to play against good sides."

Adelaide were overwhelmed by a Melbourne outfit again superbly marshalled by ruckman Max Gawn (66 hitouts), whose influence brought midfielders Clayton Oliver (31 disposals) and Nathan Jones (23 disposals) into the game.

Melbourne's McDonald was opportunistic in attack and 300-gamer Jordan Lewis, Jake Melksham and Bayley Fritsch each booted two goals.

Adelaide dominated early and, with Hugh Greenwood snapping one goal and having a hand in another, streeted to a 20-0 advantage.

The Crows lost in-form winger Paul Seedsman to a game-ending hamstring strain but recorded 17 to nine inside 50s in the first quarter.

But a dogged Melbourne kept pinching timely goals and by halftime were just seven points shy of their host.

The Demons ruthlessly took command in the third quarter, booting seven goals to one to stun the 45,880-strong Adeaide crowd.

The spree included five unanswered goals in 15 minutes as Melbourne created a 29-point three-quarter time advantage.

The Demons then held their nerve: Adelaide scored three goals and, with two minutes remaining, were seven points down only for Melbourne's Alex Neal-Bullen to kick the sealer.

Adelaide's Wayne Milera (26 disposals) was outstanding in defence and teammates Rory Laird (25 touches) and Matt Crouch (32 disposals) were busy.

Greenwood and Eddie Betts kicked two goals each for Adelaide, who next play finals-bound Port Adelaide in a high-stakes Saturday Showdown.

Melbourne host Gold Coast next Sunday at the MCG.