Round 16 – Carlton v Adelaide: Men Against Boys

The Crows travelled to the MCG to take on a side on the re-build at every level of the club, not least culturally. Carlton performed above expectation in the first half of the year pulling off an unexpected six wins. This past month has been a reality check as to where the playing group is with heavy losses to North and the Giants and an ordinary effort last week against the Pies. That said the 10 goal losses would have been 20 last year.


The Crows have continued on their build from last year despite the loss of Dangerfield. A spot that has been admirably filled by Sloane. The forward combination of Jenkins, Walker and Betts is as potent attack as any in the game. A midfield with plenty of experience and run means the ball enters their forward line with speed to lots of open space. Their defence is solid and workman-like.


Carlton turned over a large chunk of their list and the result has been a more open game plan and improved ball use. However, as the sides line up today, the most obvious difference is size. The Crows have height and weight advantage everywhere. No greater contrast was down forward with the like of Weitering trying to go with Jenkins who somehow kept getting left with Plowman. Tex Walker was playing high and seemed to have no direct opponent. The resulting run of four goals was no surprise as Carlton, while winning enough of the ball and clearances, had nothing on offer up front.


Andrew Walker played his 200th game last week and I can’t think of five that reflected his choice as Number 2 draft pick. Everitt is struggling with contested footy and creates no forward pressure. Why would he start now? Sumner and Wright need some big bodies around them. Big Levi is not hitting the pack hard or putting in second efforts. Despite having a lot of the ball in the middle, Carlton has no system going into the forward 50m; just happy to bomb it long in hope that someone might grab it. Things had that MM 2015 feeling when Armfield thought he might impose himself into the game. He quickly slots three goals, all outside 50, bringing the margin back to nine points at first oranges.


The second quarter starts when Levi led strongly and took a diving grab and calmly kicking a good goal. There was now some belief in the boys. Former Blues ruckman, Jacobs, was given a shocker from a ruck contest resulting in a Crows’ goal.  Still, Carlton’s midfield was improving and Thompson was being kept quiet. Quick movement after the centre bounce led to a holding free to the prodigy of Carlton royalty, Jack Silvagni. Goal. Goal. The faithful roared. Three points in it.


Carlton’s intensity had improved but basic errors from the younger blokes resulted in the good work being wasted. The Crows scored an easy one quickly followed by Dennis when he got on the end a good handball at the top of the 50 and then calmly slotted number four with his left foot. The game had quickened and opened up. The Crows attacked and Tex kicked one on the run from 55. Nine points the Crows. Carlton have the best of the next five minutes but don’t convert on the score board. The momentum swung again and this time the Crows hurt the Blues with three quick goals, two the result of poor turnovers. The last five minutes have been costly. Levi has a Waite and gives away a stupid 50m penalty that thankfully only costs a point. Half time, Crows by 23. The boys are being roughed up again.


The rain has arrived which means one of two things. The Crows’ superior skills and bigger bodies will make it a blowout or the influence of the Crows’ tall blokes will lessen allowing Carlton’s smalls to make a greater impact with the ball on the ground more. Any impact from Thomas would be handy. It‘s a bit of both actually as the Blues chip it around before bombing it forward before the Crows clear easily. The Blues are playing one loose down back and the whole thing starts again. What was a good game of footy has turned into a slog. Armfield marks inside 50 and unselfishly kicks it to Andrew Walker who grasses it. Be selfish Dennis; stuff Walker. Levi is becoming a liability. 12 minutes in and the Crows get the first of the quarter. 30 points to Adelaide. Two minutes later, Jenkins misses a sitter.


Bolts has the setup way wrong. They are trying to defend rather than score and have no-one up front allowing the Crows time to go wide and set up attack to what is an open forward line as all the Blues are in the middle. Who let Mick back in the box? Eddie leads and kicks truly. Starting to blow out lads. Crows by 37 points. Bigger bodies and better skills are prevailing. Time and time Carlton kick it to an empty 50 arc hoping for Armfield to run onto it. Hell the bloke has kicked two thirds of your score. How about putting someone there in the first place? I hope Thomas has a note from his mother?


Carlton continues to guard space while the Crows continue to play football. The siren goes and the Crows are up by 44 points. Carlton goalless. The only thing left to cheer for is a Blues rally to bring the margin back under 39 and keep my multi alive. The Blues scramble the first goal of the quarter through Wright. Jacobs then kicks his third. Carlton, the team that keeps on giving. The wet conditions only confirm that umpires have no feel for the game with a seriously ridiculous holding the ball decisions.


The Crows go forward through the clever Lynch and Lyons takes a nice grab over Simpson. Goal. Crows by 48, multi out the window. Another one and it’s UGLY with Carlton spectating as the Crows rack up another 100 plus scoreline. Final score, a 10 goal pantsing. Adelaide had 100 more possessions yet Carlton made 10 fewer tackles tells the tale of the tape.


Not much to take out of this other than the pruning needs to continue and some genuine key position forwards are needed. For the second week in a row Carlton has kicked the lowest score of the round. McKay and young Curnow may eventually fill the forward void but they are a few years away. 51 inside 50s for seven goals is shite in any language. The young blokes will benefit from a pre-season in the weights room but they won’t get any taller. The last of Mick’s mishaps, such as Everitts, Tutt and Jones, along with the perennial disappointment who is Walker, must be moved on. Today was not a good one for small forwards and backs but the three Giants boys might have been traded for a reason with Sumner, Plowman and Lamb continually out muscled and nervous with the ball. Wright needs to be played deep if he is to have any affect. The back six are okay but need more support from the midfield in preventing quick delivery from the opposition. SOSOS and Weitering will be good players. Cripps already is.


That said, Adelaide is a genuine top four side who will take some stopping with home finals. The next few weeks will really sort the men from the boys. However, today the Crows showed they were the ones who will be allowed in the bar, while the Blues will be sitting in the car with chips and coke.


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About Tony Robb

A life long Blues supporter of 49 years who has seen some light at the end of the tunnel that isn't Mick Malthouse driving a train.


  1. Rulebook says

    Tony Sunday showed again how list management and recruiting is so vital,Thomas v Betts say no more.
    I gather your not a Walker fan watching it was easy to forget that those 2 and Everitt were even playing.
    A young groups reality check with a lot more work on ball movement neede

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Couldn’t work out what the Blues were trying to do after half time Tony, but it was never going to work, as you pointed out.

  3. Tony Robb says

    They certainly do Rulebook and as Swish points out, the second half tactics were odd given they had got back into the contest through run and attack then went all Malthouse

  4. Peter Fuller says

    Your summary is a good reflection of the game, and its turning points. My feeling is that the Blues have found their level, and can only go with the better sides for a couple of quarters. I think this is also influenced by the effects of reasonable (but not brilliant) players tiring as the season gets into its dog days. I missed the Geelong match and am still mystified as to how we managed to sustain the effort on that occasion.
    I note your comments about Walker – harsh but fair. Rulebook and JB have emphasised the list management deficiencies at Princes Park for the past decade and a half. I would also attribute wastage of talent to the poor standards of football education in that time. Walker is a particular example, but it’s also true of Betts, Gibbs and others. We can reasonably hope that this is another positive aspect of Bolton’s manangement.

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