Adelaide Crows stun AFL world as Carlton ripped over 'horrible' display

The Blues were left shellshocked after the Adelaide Crows got the AFL's Gather Round off to a scintillating start.

Adelaide Crows players Josh Rachele and Izak Rankine celebrate on the left, while Patrick Cripps leads the Carlton Blues off the field on the right.
The Adelaide Crows stunned the AFL world by handing Carlton their first loss of the season. Pictures: Getty Images

The Adelaide Crows have sent Carlton crashing back to AFL reality after their impressive start to the season, trouncing the Blues by 56-points to get the Gather Round off to a favourable start for the home state. An eight goal to two blitz in the opening quarter proved an impossible margin to overcome for Carlton, with the Crows picking up their third win of the season.

While the win was the latest encouraging sign from the Crows that they could emerge from the doldrums of recent seasons, Blues fans were left wondering what happened in their first loss of the season. An injury to key defender Mitch McGovern before the ball was bounced proved to be a portentous omen, with the Blues unable to cover for the loss of he and ruckman Mark Pittonet, who went off with an eye injury.

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Commentators and fans were most alarmed though, by how quickly the Blues were blown away in the first quarter. While the remaining three quarters were nowhere near as one-sided, there was a stark difference between how the two sides moved the ball.

In the second and third quarters Carlton had more inside-50s and clearances than the Crows - but broke even with team booting five goals respectively. David King said the Crows were simply cleaner with the ball when they had it, and relentlessly hunting Carlton when they didn't.

“The gap in the game is the ability of the Adelaide Crows to spread,” King said on Fox Footy. “Before Carlton take a step, they’ve already taken three.

“They get to the outside, whether it’s from contest, drop of ball or even a kick-in, they’re gone because they’ve made a decision to be part of the possession chain. It’s glorious to watch.

“Even if Carlton wins first possession, they’re being assaulted and stripped. It’s been an issue for Carlton all year – converting a first possession into an actual clearance – they’ve been mauled. Once the game goes to the outside, it’s a smashing.”

Meanwhile, Blues fans on social media were left stunned by the performance. In contrast, the Adelaide Oval was rocking as the Crows were lead by Darcy Fogarty's four goals and three each from Taylor Walker and Ben Keays.

Michael Voss disappointed by Carlton's first quarter effort

While the Blues made an admirable go of things after they were smashed in the first quarter, head coach Michael Voss knew beyond doubt that their poor start had cost them dearly. He said there was little they could do but look at what had happened during the week and address it next round.

“We‘ll accept what comes our way, but we can’t do much about that now,” Voss said. “We can only go about it in the coming week and prepare for the next opponent ... that‘s all we get the chance to do.

“What will be said will be said. Whatever comes our way we accept that, but what we‘ve got to do is pick apart this around what worked and what didn’t then see what we can put into action immediately and there will be some other longer-term things that we need to continue to address.

“The importance of this particular round was discussed, the focus that this round brings, and we had a great opportunity to kick off this weekend.

“There was going to be extra focus and scrutiny on this game, and we were looking forward to that. That‘s not foreign to us now, we’re well supported, and we didn’t do the right thing.”

Conversely, Crows coach Matthew Nicks was encouraging his players to ride the wave after they performed so well in such a big game. Adding to Nicks' big Thursday night at Adelaide Oval, singer Guy Sebastian was in the rooms post-match.

"Even I lost my composure for five or 10 minutes - photos and autographs. I do love him," Nicks said after the 18.10 (118) to 9.8 (62) win. "But our players just remained focused and smiled their way through."

The Adelaide Crows celebrate a goal against Carlton.
The Adelaide Crows were on fire against Carlton, setting up their win with eight goals to one in the first quarter. (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images) (AFL Photos via Getty Images)

It was their third win in a row and ended Carlton's unbeaten start to the season. Significantly, Adelaide's scintillating first quarter was their best football since the 2017 preliminary final win over Geelong. The Crows have not made the top eight since.

"Our squad is so strong at the moment and I don't want our guys to hide from that - I want them to enjoy and embrace form," Nicks said. "Form is fickle and we know it can disappear really quickly. We want our group to remain really confident and believe in themselves - that's what you saw (against Carlton).

"They just put it together. That's our challenge, to do it again."

With AAP

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