PORT ADELAIDE 5.6 9.12 16.15 20.20 (140) CARLTON 1.2 2.4 3.7 5.7 (37)
Goals: Port Adelaide: R Gray 4, C Wingard 3, J Neade 3, J Westhoff 3, J Schulz 2, A Monfries, Brad Ebert, H Hartlett, M White, T Boak. Carlton: B Gibbs, C Yarran, J Waite, L Casboult, S White.
BEST Port Adelaide: Gray, Lobbe, Boak, Hartlett, Pittard, Westhoff. Carlton: Gibbs, Rowe, Casboult, Curnow, Wood, Carrazzo.
Injuries: Carlton: M Murphy (concussion).
Umpires: Justin Schmitt, Mathew Nicholls, Dean Margetts.
Official Crowd: 52,505 at Adelaide Oval.
ADELAIDE Carlton has endured some dark nights, but rarely have so many Blues done so little. Their record-losing performance against Port Adelaide before a record 52,505 fans at a frenzied and hostile Adelaide Oval was, to say the least, humiliating.
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Port Adelaide has demolished Carlton by 103 points at Adelaide Oval to keep themselves in contention for a top four spot.
Given their one-kick losses to premiership hopefuls Fremantle and Geelong over the previous three rounds, most observers believed the Blues would raise serious doubts about Port's finals chances.
Instead, the Power reminded us that its best is good enough for a top-four finish – and that will come if it beats Fremantle at Patersons Stadium next Saturday afternoon. Port finished the night in fourth spot and if the Dockers suffer an unlikely loss to Brisbane Lions away on Sunday, the percentage Port gained could prove crucial.
To be dominated so much, and be held to a single goal in the opening three terms, erased much of the respect Carlton had earned of late. It was worse than its previous record loss of 89 points in 1998.
The Blues started competitively, but by the 16th-minute mark of the second term when captain Marc Murphy was taken off the field after a sickening clash with Port's Cam O'Shea, with Murphy smashing his head on the turf and being concussed, the Power led by 43 points and the result was already looking ugly. It didn't get any prettier.
Port shut Carlton's stars out of the game early, or to be precise, they were bullied and bruised like they were on the end of a one-sided playground battle. No one felt the brunt more than a frustrated Murphy. The disappointing thing was that not enough teammates were there to support him and Carlton's other smaller types.
The half-time stats, when Carlton was in serious trouble, were damning – Troy Menzel and Andrew Carrazzo had three disposals, Kade Simpson five, and in 45 minutes of play Murphy also had five.
In contrast, it was Port's relatively small dynamos who inflicted so much pain – Robbie Gray was brilliant and further enhanced his Brownlow Medal hopes, Chad Wingard produced something close to the form that bedazzled his opponents earlier in the season, and Jake Neade, currently the smallest player in the AFL at 170 centimetres, stood tall in the fray.
The reality was, as much as Carlton raised the spirit of its disheartened fans in recent times by producing some brilliant football, finals week begins in eight days and Port was desperate for a top-four finish – and played accordingly against the 13th ranked side. It took 14minutes before Port kicked the first goal of the game, and there was this feeling that if the Blues could get some of their prime creators well into the game they could seriously challenge. Obviously, they didn't.
The Power repeatedly stormed its 50-metre zone and preyed on the Blues who struggled to cope with the pressure. To lead the inside-50s 32-14 at half-time, and the scoreboard so convincingly by 50 points despite inaccuracy with 21 scoring shots to six, was so disappointing for Carlton. With the Blues bereft of one-on-one winners – only three players had more than 10 disposals – you would expect a Michael Malthouse side to come out and show more resolve.
When the record crowd started chanting "Power" as the goals ticked over, and the home team showed no mercy, the Blues looked such a helpless and demoralised bunch. Pre-season just got tougher. The attendance was 272 higher than the previous AFL record at Adelaide Oval.