Round 16 – Carlton v Adelaide: Crows shrug off the Blues, despite the menace of Dennis

The iPad revisited*

Week by week, the Adelaide Crows are writing one of the great stories of the 2016 season. Having last season endured tragic circumstance unprecedented in AFL experience, they began this year without their reigning club champion, adding to a recent player exodus that might have crippled many a club . Modest expectations seemed confirmed by a round one loss to the Roos. Yet they arrived at the MCG for this meeting with Carlton now very much in the discussion of premiership contenders.


By doing so, Adelaide have displayed a capacity for endurance and stability that has been sorely lacking at Carlton this century. Perhaps it is no coincidence the Blues turned to the Crows’ former CEO to guide them out of their misery. Steven Trigg has sought to introduce process and rigour that was sorely lacking at Royal Parade. A major part of that process was the appointment of Brendan Bolton. In their time of crisis, the Crows looked to Don Pyke. In his low key way, Pyke is staking his own claim for coach of the season consideration.


Carlton’s current predicament can be summed up by the first ten inside-fifty entries of this game. Though we had seven of them, we were unable to hit the scoreboard. The Crows goaled with their opening entry, and should have goaled with their next two. This always loomed as a contest between Carlton pea-shooters and Adelaide bazookas.


For a quarter and a half, the Blues maintained a semblance of a contest through some sustained forward and midfield pressure, and an inspired effort from Dennis Armfield. Facing the football mortality that a rebuild can mean for any senior player on an under-performing list, Dennis has recently discovered finishing skills in front of goal that we never suspected existed. In the first quarter, he camouflaged Carlton’s forward deficiencies by bombing no less than three goals from outside the 50 arc. Carlton fans hadn’t seen the like since Fev left the building.


When Dennis swung onto his left foot and goaled from 40 out (!) at the 12 minute mark of the second term, the Blues trailed by only 3 points. Brief thoughts of an upset flickered. But in short succession, fumbles from Kerridge and Docherty saw Adelaide score on the rebound. This was unfortunate, as both have been amongst our more reliable players this season. By half time the Crows had opened it out to 23 points.


The already blustery conditions saw drizzle added to the equation after the long break. As so often happens in tricky conditions, the cream rose to the top. Though Carlton maintained a precarious arm wrestle through the first part of the third term, every turnover saw Adelaide threaten to get out the back of the Blues’ defensive set up. Inevitably, that threat was turned into reality. While the Blues managed a solitary second-half goal, Adelaide found ways to breach our defences sufficiently to see a ten goal margin by the end of a largely perfunctory final term.


While Rulebook will doubtless provide the full Adelaide chapter and verse, I’d like to mention a couple of standouts for the Crows. Daniel Talia continues to prove that the Crows produce key defenders like the Barossa produces quality reds. He was far too good for Levi’s limited bag of tricks. Mitch McGovern is cut from the same seemingly un-athletic  cloth as his Eagle brother. But like Jeremy, appearances deceive. Both are natural footballers, with the game sense to make the right choice for the given situation. Mitch had a statistically unremarkable match, yet managed to contribute in ways stats will never properly measure. It  was an impressive rookie display.


Carlton fans will hardly be surprised at the fact Sam Jacobs and (Good) Eddie Betts equalled the Blues’ goal tally by themselves. We are well used to such humiliations. The fact that both no longer wear Navy Blue is an enduring tribute to Carlton’s past inability to manage its playing list, nor properly evaluate the talent it did possess. Let us leave that well-worn discussion at that.


With a forward line as potent as any, a well organised defence full of emerging talent,  and a midfield coping more than adequately with the loss of King Dangerfield, Don Pyke’s Crows look to be setting themselves up for a serious crack come September. They set an example the Blues hope to eventually follow.


*A combination of illness and inclement weather saw your resident Carlton masochist correspondent opt for the comforts of the armchair this weekend.


CARLTON     3.0   6.1   6.2   7.5 (47)
ADELAIDE    4.3   9.6   12.10   16.11 (107)


 Armfield 4, Casboult, Silvagni, Wright
Adelaide: Betts 3, Jacobs 3, Jenkins 3, Crouch, McGovern, Walker, Lynch, Douglas, Lyons, Mackay


 Armfield, Cripps, Tuohy,  Rowe, Gibbs
Adelaide: Laird, Sloane, Talia, Henderson , Lever, Jacobs


Official crowd: 32,430 at the MCG

About John Butler

John Butler has fled the World's Most Liveable Car Park and now breathes the rarefied air of the Ballarat Plateau. For his sins, he has passed his 40th year as a Carlton member.


  1. Ben Footner says

    Very happy with the win yesterday. While their fellow top 4 aspirants stumble, Adelaide continue to maintain discipline and churn out workmanlike performances each week.

    Nothing spectacular about yesterday, but they weathered Carlton’s first half pressure and got the job done with everyone playing their role to perfection.

    Adelaide are becoming a very difficult side to contain purely because of the even contributions of all 22 each week. Clamp down on one midfielder/defender/forward and another two step up to the plate.

  2. John Butler says

    There’s a lot to be said for evenness, both in load sharing and performance.

    The Blues had it for a while earlier in the season. But lack of talent has seen us hit the wall.

    Cheers Ben.

  3. Dave Brown says

    Good write up John. Having watched Carlton two weeks in a row now, your forward movement is diabolical. 51 inside 50s for seven goals (three of which came from outside 50). The number of times the ball was bombed to Reid and Brown last week and Talia and Laird this week must be hair tearingly frustrating. If Carlton can sort that out the midfield has more than enough grunt for the club to be good.

    On the other side, it is really only the Crows’ midfield that I’m not sold on. That said the Crouch brothers are improving week on week but some of the games we lost to good teams earlier in the year, particularly Geelong and Bulldogs were as a result of comprehensive midfield smackings. If the Crows can keep winning the games they should win (best team in the league at that) and neutralise the better midfields in the comp then pretty much anything is achievable this season.

  4. John Butler says

    Absolutely agree Dave.

    At least we tried to take you on this week, unlike the effort against the Pies. A lack of compelling forward targets creates a a vicious cycle – the forwards lack movement, causing indecision with the ball carriers. Once Talia blanketed Levi,, we didn’t know what to do. Walker and Everritt have been poor in the last month. If they don’t lift they’ll go the way of Jones.

    A lot would seem to rely on Sloane and Thompson in your midfield, though the Crouch’s are improving. But much can be covered if the forwards and backs give them a chop out from time to time.

    Speaking of forwards, is Menzel still alive?

  5. Dave Brown says

    Yeah, Menzel is going ok in the magoos. Had an injury interrupted pre-season which meant he started a long way back and has copped a couple of concussions in the SANFL but had been showing better form just before the most recent head knock. Emergence and consolidation of players like McGovern, Cameron and Milera mean he is a fair way back, though. With so few injuries the Crows are batting very deep.

  6. John Butler says

    A bit surprised Kerridge was considered surplus to your requirements re the midfield. Not that I’m complaining. His disposal can be iffy, but he’s been very solid for us. As has Wright.

    But as you say, you appear to be batting deep.


  7. Ben Footner says

    I was disappointed to see Kerridge leave, but we do have good depth in our midfield. Their only deficiency is that most are in their early twenties and still learning/refining their craft.

    Cam Ellis-Yolmen & Mitch Grigg are just two midfielders who have been extremely unlucky not to play a game yet this season, not to mention Dean Gore who we acquired as part of the Dangerfield trade.

  8. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Good piece John and you were probably warmer than me.

    Adelaide based folks, are any of the abovementioned blokes in the twos demanding selection or are they “just going”.

  9. Rulebook says

    Thanks JB it’s the blues ball movements and patterns which must improve both Walker and Everitt did so little forgot they were even out there while the crows have been blessed with injuries there is a lot of depth of which I am sure will be in demand re other clubs for 2017.CEY and Grigg in particular would walk in to a lot of other sides

  10. Tony Robb says

    As my upcoming piece outlines JB, it was men against boys. Bigger bodies, better skills. Crows 100 more possessions with Blues 10 less tackles sums it up. Very odd tactical change when the rain started. No forwards and minding space through the middle. Carlton 4 weeks ago were trying to win. Carlton yesterday decided to try not to lose badly and got flogged in doing so. Shades of the MM Blues

  11. Luke Reynolds says

    How was J.Silvagni’s second game?
    I’ll need to see the highlights of this game to believe the feats you write about performed by Dennis ‘the new Fev’ Armfield.

  12. John Butler says

    Thanks Rulebook, Swish. I’ll investigate your thoughts on the game when time permits.

    TR, one point that should be made is that only 2 or 3 of them are boys. Most have had a few years in the system, just at other clubs. Most of this year’s draft boys are still getting over injury or illness.

    Luke, SOSOS was quieter than last week, but managed to kick a goal. Given that he is a better kick than most of his senior team mates, the passing off last week made little sense. He needs to be persisted with, as none of our senior forwards are making much of a case for their retention.

    Do watch that replay, at least until 12 minutes into the 2nd term. You can skip the rest.


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