Crows take out their frustration on meek Blues
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Crows take out their frustration on meek Blues

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Former teammates Marc Murphy (left) and Bryce Gibbs battle for the ball at Etihad Stadium.

Former teammates Marc Murphy (left) and Bryce Gibbs battle for the ball at Etihad Stadium.

Photo: AAP

They played to a three-quarter empty house befitting their seasons, a veritable annus horribilis cup fixture.

For Carlton and Adelaide, the season could not end quickly enough, the Blues holding the mythical wooden spoon and seemingly aeons from a finals appearance, and Adelaide having the dubious distinction of going from a grand final in one year to a free September the next.

So it was never going to be a classic, this one at the Docklands.

Adelaide won easily but the finish to their season – six wins in the last nine games – only emphasises their underachievement. Carlton, on the other hand, are just a dreadful football team right now, with a 104-point defeat to finish the season and remind them of their inadequacy all summer long.

The Crows were decent with their quick ball movement from the back, and Josh Jenkins backed up the truck on the end of their good work with seven goals.

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Carlton lost two of their best young players – Charlie Curnow (knee) and Jacob Weitering (concussion) – in the third quarter just to exacerbate their woes, and played out the game with only two interchange players.

But it was never a contest of any significance, even before that. Adelaide were quickly out to a four-goal lead and before half-time it was 10. Carlton have no capacity to defend and when coach Brendon Bolton bolstered his back half with extra manpower they proceeded to kick the ball back to Adelaide opponents when they won it.

Elliott Himmelberg is tackled by Carlton's Sam Rowe.

Elliott Himmelberg is tackled by Carlton's Sam Rowe.

Photo: AAP

The second half followed the same pattern: too many easy goals conceded, no method with which to stop Adelaide playing Chinese checkers with the football. The Crows shared around the spoils, having 12 different goalkickers. Eddie Betts conjured as he can, at one point beating two Carlton players to snap a goal. The emerging Rory Atkins managed three and second-season player Jordan Gallucci was outstanding with four.

Adelaide in this form are a scoring machine. Jenkins was the chief beneficiary.

Even debutant Elliott Himmelberg, a big Queenslander who showed some good signs, joined the party in the second quarter. The young man trapped the ball deep in the forward pocket, broke a tackle, took a bounce and then banana-kicked his first career goal.

Wayne Milera takes flight.

Wayne Milera takes flight.

Photo: AAP

Adelaide gave Hugh Greenwood responsibility for Patrick Cripps and the Crows midfielder bumped and harangued him; still Cripps would rake the ball away from the centre bounces, even when Sam Jacobs had his hand on the ball first. Twelve times he cleared the ball from the centre and his overall clearance number of 19 was 12 ahead of anyone else on the field. He had 37 disposals (24 contested) and he is a beast of a player, but he carries a heavy burden for a young man.

Outside of that, it was a famine for Bolton. Weitering was in the midst of one of his better games for the club at full-back when he was crunched, not to reappear. The brilliant young forward Curnow looked tired, and was subdued until he wrenched his left knee.

One positive was the form of big forward Harry McKay, who booted three goals, Sam Petrevski-Seton continues to improve and Jack Silvagni soared over a pack to take a screamer.

But the reality for Carlton was that he Crows had half a team in, with the likes of captain Taylor Walker and key defender Daniel Talia absent along with midfielder Rory Sloane, who withdrew because of what the club called a “private family matter’’. Adelaide’s 12-10 season despite the kerfuffle of the pre-season ‘wellness’ camp suggests they could be back as a force in 2019.

But the Blues need help, and may well get it soon from the AFL. Bolton’s three years have produced just 15 wins. The sparse, 17,000 crowd mostly stayed to the end; it was a night for diehards only.

They even sang We are the Navy Blues deep into the final quarter. Footy people are the most resilient souls.

ADELAIDE 5.4 13.6 20.8 26.9 (165)
CARLTON 1.4 5.5 7.8 8.13 (61)

Goals: Adelaide: Jenkins 7, Gallucci 4, Betts 3, Atkins 3, Knight 2, Gibbs, Himmelberg, Kelly, Seedsman, Laird, Lynch, Milera. Carlton: McKay 3, Polson 2, Mullett, Simpson, Kerridge.

Best: Adelaide: Jenkins, Laird, Atkins, Milera, Gallucci, Betts. Carlton: Cripps, Thomas, O’Brien, Murphy, McKay.

Umpires: Hosking, Stephens, Fisher.

Crowd: 17,000 at Etihad Stadium.

Votes
8: Josh Jenkins (Adelaide)
7: Rory Laird (Adelaide)
7: Patrick Cripps (Carlton)
7: Rory Atkins (Adelaide)
7: Wayne Milera (Adelaide)