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.
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.
Quite simply another embarrassing performance in South Australia. Every time blues come they dish up the same thing. Game over at quarter time didn’t show up at all. Crows exposed us & showed that the first month of football for club was nothing special #AFLCrowsBlues
— Joseph Pangallo (@JosephPangallo9) April 13, 2023
We have been playing this poor all year. It’s only now a team is showing us up. Pathetic would be nice to be honest. We are making the crows look like a competent footy team. Woeful blues. Woeful.
— 2 Passionate Blue Baggers (@2_Blue_Baggers) April 13, 2023
Pretty much the best and worst qtr of football you’ll see this year.
Crows untouchable. Blues appalling. #AFLCrowsBlues
— Andy (@andyritchie3) April 13, 2023
Far out carlton fans. You literally just lost your first game and the amount of sack voss talk is horrible. Die hard crow here and love beating you blues...but seriously, hang your heads in shame talking like this because you have a good coach
— Michael Bennallack (@GPC_Michael) April 13, 2023
Good wake up call for us we’re not that good sides who were rebuilding already going passed us!
— Sam (@sam_calder28) April 13, 2023
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."
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."
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