There were a lot of storylines coming into the game between Carlton and Adelaide. The Blues had been under significant scrutiny in recent times. Losing their last three matches, an external review had been launched, and the media horde had turned their attention to the next coach in the pecking order following their feast on Nathan Buckley’s career prospects.
But it wasn’t all bad, as Blues captain Patrick Cripps committed to huge long-term deal with the club. This came after Harry McKay extended his contract not long ago. Maybe things weren’t looking so bad after all? The Blues just needed to get some of their recent high-profile recruits going. It doesn’t help when one isn’t looking like they’re in peak condition and the others former club has effectively replaced him with a better version of himself.
The Crows were having to do things the Covid way with a fly-in fly-out single day trip for the fixture. Coming off their bye after their miraculous come-from-behind victory against the Saints in Cairns. They were the upstart in 2021 that had knocked off both Melbourne and Geelong and couldn’t be underestimated.
The first quarter of this game was played at break-neck speed. Both teams were eager to get the ball moving their way and it seemed as if they were playing on every second time they took a mark. The only problem was that neither could actually capitalise on this style. Incredibly, neither team had kicked a goal until over 20 minutes had elapsed. The Blues were falling down across the centre and half-forward, with the Crows crowding the middle of the ground, and the Crows couldn’t get the ball past the twin towers of Jacob Weitering and Liam Jones. The goals came late in a flurry, with four kicked in the last six minutes of play, and they were beauties.
The Crows had the dream start to the second quarter with a goal in the first 20 seconds, but not a lot went their way after that. Carlton took control of the game in a dominant display that would’ve buoyed Blues fans hearts and had them daring to dream of what this team could achieve. The beauty in Carlton’s play was clearly their ball movement and work ethic. Constantly looking to switch the ball to the other side of the field and change the angles of their forward entries. It disrupted the Crows defensive systems enough to break through and bring down an avalanche of goals in the second quarter. They turned a three-goal deficit into a five-goal lead by the time the half time siren sounded.
The Crows fought their way back into the contest in the third quarter. They started clamping down on the Blues’ switching and putting more pressure on those short 15-metre 45-degree angle kicks. Carlton also seemed to be tiring as the quarter went on. Noticeably tiring. This became very apparent in the last quarter. It’s not that the Crows weren’t also tiring, it’s just that the Blues had elevated their work rate so much in the second quarter that the drop was noticeable.
The Blues were holding on for dear life and kept blowing their chances to ice the game. Luckily enough for them, the Crows weren’t kicking much better at the opposite end. A second-half scoreline of two goals and seven behinds for Carlton, and five goals and seven behinds for Adelaide signalled how hard both teams were working for their opportunities. The last 10 minutes were frantic, and it was the Blues who ended up executing better in the clutch moments (outside of kicking for goal) to win the game.
It was a courageous win in the end for Carlton as they were heavily challenged by Adelaide throughout the second half but held their nerve. David Teague can now sleep a little easier for one more week.
Now let’s get into the stuff that mattered…
The Best Stuff:
Weitering vs Walker
A true battle of the titans. Forget the Cripps on Sloane match-up in the middle the commentators couldn’t stop talking about, despite the fact that wouldn’t know what number the other was wearing as soon as they leave the stoppages… Give me the key matchup between two dominant big men who will genuinely be pitted against each other all day, every time.
This contest was enthralling. You could make the argument that both players were in the top few for their respective sides, in fact they both featured in my votes. Weitering was only two rebound-50’s away from the elusive defensive triple-double (for those not familiar that is double-digit intercepts, rebound-50’s and one-percenters – only two in AFL history). Meanwhile “Tex” would have damn-near kicked six or seven goals if a bounce, or swing, of the ball had gone his way.
Let’s look at the tale of the tape.
Marks Inside 50
You’d be a stubborn person to pick Walker based on those numbers. He was by no means disgraced in the match-up, but you have to accept that Weitering’s impact on the game was profound, and he won the match-up. Had Tex kicked a little straighter and possibly even won the game for the Crows you could’ve made the case that that was all that matters, but he just didn’t quite capitalise on his chances. I would just like to reiterate how good it was to watch two of the best this year go head-to-head in a genuine game-long contest.
The best wingman in the competition. Fact. I’ve knocked him previously for some inefficient delivery of the footy going forward, but that has been put to bed. Seedsman is the competitions elite ball mover on the outside and unless he falls off a cliff, he should have a strong case to be in that position on All-Australian night. Seedsman owned his wing in this game with 24 disposals, two goals and 645 metres gained.
Can you be in the best players on the ground with only 11 disposals? In Liam Jones’ case, yes. Absolutely. He dominated his match-up with Riley Thilthorpe. Thilthorpe was brought back down to earth after his heroics against the Saints. Although on reflection, Saints Defender Dougal Howard also probably had the better of him for the majority of the match. Jones was imposing and took this to new heights in the third quarter where he won about three or four genuine one-on-ones in a row. Jones didn’t just halve these contests, nope, he marked the footy and won it back for Carlton. I’m not sure if I can even remember Jones being beaten at all in a contest during this game. It was a defensive virtuoso performance.
Just an absolute ball magnet. I don’t know if you can be underrated with two All-Australian guernseys, but I think Laird is as close as you can get to that. I did have a particular focus on him in the Crows last game against the Saints where he was huge, and he carried that form into the first half of this game. He fell away in the second half as the Blues seemed to pay a bit more attention to him around the footy, which was a good adjustment, but his impact was still big enough to warrant recognition in this part of the review.
Darcy Fogarty will likely get looked at for his late hit on Weitering in a third quarter marking contest. But the statement the Crows made about their intent was clear. They weren’t lying down in this one. It was a bit of old fashioned footy. Weitering went back with the flight in front of the charging full forward. He left himself slightly exposed and Fogarty went bang to try and lift his team and hurt the opposition’s best player. I didn’t mind it.
Just one other thing on this one though, it’s all good to fly the flag and get over and support your teammates, but for the Blues defenders to waste their energy and not get back and allow the Crows unencumbered entry into their forward 50 shortly after, is unforgivable.
The Good Stuff:
Some Eddie Brilliance
You love to see it. I think I saw a tweet about Daisy Thomas’s comments on the game that Eddie gives people diabetes from selling so much candy. Brilliant call Daisy. He almost had the highlight mark and went down with an injury scare. He kicked three goals and set up a couple others. Yep, Eddie had everything in this game.
Keays is having a really good season and this game was no exception. A solid performer for the Crows. Now in his second year at the Crows it’s hard to believe he was delisted by the Lions, but they ended up getting Jarryd Lyons, so we’ll call it even. A man of decent size, Keays is a contested bull at the contest and more than held his own against the likes of Patrick Cripps and Ed Curnow. Of his 30 disposals, 17 were contested. He also had two goal assists in his 10 score involvements. Not a bad day out.
The Recruits – Saad and Williams
What a way for both players to respond. Both have been put through the wringer in the media over the price tags associated with bringing them into the football club and their level of output so far this season. Every show will play the highlight of Saad’s goal but the real effort that Blues fans should be celebrating is his chase down early in the last quarter, to save what looked like a certain shot on goal. Both Saad and Williams were big in this game. Both hit the scoreboard. Both made crucial defensive plays in the last quarter that helped stall the Crows momentum. It’s a good base to start proving the doubters wrong.
Plowman is the sort of player you love having in your team. Continually gets a defensive hand in for a spoil, laid a really strong tackle in the first quarter that also got a 50 metre penalty out of the Crows undisciplined response, and he just continually gets in the face of the opposition. I was a big fan of Plowman in this game. He had some enthralling contests with Fogarty, and he definitely got the points from the match-up.
I haven’t missed Walsh in this review. He was good, just others were better. He started out on a wing in the first half before being moved more into the middle, likely as a result of the Marc Murphy injury. He got plenty of the footy and was damaging on the attack for the Blues. As I said, he was good, but if you’re asking me if I’m taking Walsh’s game over the likes of Weitering, Jones, Seedsman or Keays, the answer is no.
Hard to believe a guy playing in defence could have 23 disposals and only two of them are classed as contested. I was actually thinking he might’ve just smelled bad such was the inability for the Blues to effectively pressure Smith coming out of defence. 19 of Smiths 23 disposals were kicks and when he kicks it, he kicks it long, and as such he was driving force for the Crows and had a huge 788 metres gained.
The Other Stuff
That Cripps Goal
It was a cracking goal and a great play, but I counted 20 steps with no bounce and about 30 metres of ground covered. An inspirational goal from Cripps, but a missed call by the umpire.
The Return to Longer Quarters
In the first half, before the game became an all-out slog of desperation footy, 10 of the 15 goals came in red time. The latter parts of quarters in this game really elevated its level. It’s something I felt was missing last year with shorter quarters. The extra time isn’t necessarily relevant in every quarter of every game, but when it happens, like in this one, it makes it worth every extra second.
Tom De Koning
Brilliant effort from the youngster in this one. He more than held his own in the ruck against an experienced and very capable ruckman in O’Brien.
Probably could have cashed-in and had three or four goals on a better day. He had his hot patch in the second quarter and bobbed up at crucial times throughout the second half to give the Blues some poise with the footy. The settling goal at the finish of the third quarter was hugely telling in the end.
Close but no cigar for Adelaide. But surely Crows fans have plenty to take out of this game. The improvement of young and old from last year to this year is still marked and there is plenty to build on for the future. You travelled to Carlton’s home ground, they got their supporters back and put a big break on the team in the first half. But the Crows responded. This is becoming a habit with this Crows team, they’re one of those teams that never gives up the fight. Who knows what happens with their fixture next week? There are quarantine breaches everywhere and states are closing borders to each other like they’re gates on a garden path. There’s talk of an 18-team Melbourne hub. Who would’ve thought? The AFL Finally bringing the competition to parity with a level playing field (Sarcasm).
Can you say the win they needed? What a release for the Blues and their fans. Not to mention they Re-signed the skipper for six years. There’s also the talk of next week’s match against Fremantle being moved to your home ground at Marvel stadium. Could this be the catalyst to jump-start Carlton’s season?