Round 15 – Carlton v Adelaide: Fighting back


As the week progressed, I thought it worth offering a loser’s perspective to complement the Adelaide Almanac Mafia’s erudite analyses of this match.


We spend our lives trying to create order out of what are often random events, because that gives us the comfort of imagining that we are in some control. We expect events which impact our lives to follow some sort of predictable cause-effect relationship. In sporting contests, we expect the individual or team that is superior on some relevant criteria to prevail. There is also a somewhat illusory expectation that progress or regress will follow some sort of logical pattern. This year the AFL has provided numerous examples to suggest more random forces are at work, not least the variation in form by the team, which I support – Carlton. A win against putative premiership favourites, GWS has contrasted markedly with a capitulation to the Power of Port Adelaide and two modest efforts against Richmond. Gold Coast were as convincingly beaten on their own turf, as they routed us in Melbourne.


However, there has been a slight upward trend, evident in the team’s becoming difficult to put away, and while the win-loss ratio is nothing to boast about, hope – that priceless commodity for the misguided supporter – is being generated.


Since Adelaide have also been very impressive at their best, and dismal at worst, the Blues-Crows contest at the G represented an uncertain prospect, although Adelaide seemed likely to win, based on their superior form over the whole of the season to date. Both teams were coming off poor performances with Carlton have lowered their colours again to Richmond, and Adelaide falling well short of expectations against Hawthorn at the Adelaide Oval. There was also an interesting subtext in the player movements between the two clubs, the more celebrated Betts and Jacobs travelling west, but Carlton benefiting from Wright’s contributions this season and adding Kerridge for this match. The latter made a fair fist of just his third outing at senior level for season 2017.


The Crows began well. While it took them some time to open the scoring, they dominated much of the opening quarter, and eventually found their range. They ran in four goals (Jenkins, Smith, McGovern, Betts) before the Blues pulled one back from Cuningham (hat tip to Swish, as I hadn’t noticed the unconventionally spelt family name, despite his prominence this season) well into time-on.


The 2nd quarter saw the Blues begin to work their way back into the contest. Initially this was achieved by better organised and more determined defence, with Jones and Docherty much in evidence. Cripps missed a relatively simple set shot, but soon afterwards scored a more difficult running goal. Bryce Gibbs kicked the next to bring the blues within a goal, a margin that belied the Crows’ early dominance. From then until the half time siren, it went goal for goal as Knight’s major for the visitors was answered by Silvagni, and Sloane’s goal brought an immediate reply from a huge kick by Kerridge who was on the end of the centre clearance initiated by Kreuzer and Cripps.


When Casboult kicked the opening goal of the 3rd term, the margin was a bare point, which Betts and Jenkins extended as they became the first multiple goal-scorers of the day. Gibbs then joined this select group and when Sumner – also making a rare senior appearance – goaled, the Blues had drawn level. The balance of the term saw Adelaide in control and had it not been for their inaccuracy, the game should probably have been put beyond Carlton’s reach. As it was, Taylor Walker provided the only goal, a characteristic effort, marking just beyond the 50 metre arc from a kick-in, selling a dummy and kicking truly. The Crows had pushed their lead to 11 points.


In virtually the opening foray of the final term, Jacobs gave his team some breathing space with a rover’s goal, collecting the ball at the drop of a goal-square marking contest in the opening moments of the final quarter. Once again the Blues came storming back. Charlie Curnow converted from a fine mark, Wright threaded a kick off the ground through a tangle of legs in the goal-square, and Daisy Thomas kicked a fine long running goal to give Carlton an improbable one point lead for the only time for the afternoon. However, Adelaide responded within minutes, initially with behinds but then goals from Matt Crouch and Jenkins to effectively settle the issue. In the closing minutes, Knight’s goal for the Crows was matched by one from Casboult to provide the twelve point final margin.


It was appropriate that M. Crouch scored the decisive goal as he capped a solid performance with a stellar final quarter. His brother Brad was also highly effective. Smith was excellent as was Douglas, and Lever was Adelaide’s best defender. Jenkins was useful both up forward and as a pinch-hitting ruckman.


For the Blues, Jones was outstanding in defence, Gibbs maintained his fine form and Cripps was a productive on-baller. Charlie Curnow contributed enough to compensate for brother Ed’s being sidelined and Kerridge justified his return to the side with a fine game.


While it’s spoils to the winners, and Adelaide undoubtedly deserved the points, the fact that they were given a last quarter fright suggests that the Carlton revival is a conceivable prospect. I was gratified to note that Brendan Bolton alluded to the ten goal defeat in the corresponding match in 2016 as an indicator of the club’s progress. This is a criterion which I consider a relevant marker of improvement.



CARLTON           1.0       5.1       8.2       12.5 (77)
ADELAIDE          4.0       6.1       9.7       13.11 (89)


Gibbs 2,Casboult 2, Cuningham, Cripps, Silvagni, Kerridge, Sumner, Curnow, Wright, Thomas
Adelaide: Jenkins 3, Betts 2, Knight 2, Smith, McGovern, Sloane, Walker, Jacobs, M.Crouch

Gibbs, Cripps, Jones, Kreuzer, Kerridge, Curnow
Adelaide: M.Crouch, Smith, B.Crouch, Jenkins, Douglas, Lever

Marchbank (right shoulder), Plowman (dislocated finger), Weitering (ankle)
Adelaide: Hartigan (hamstring)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Dalgleish, Harris, Pannell

Official crowd: 33,433 at the MCG

Malarkey Medal Votes:

  1. M. Crouch (Adel.) 2. Cripps (Carl.) 1. Smith (Adel.)


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