CARLTON’S AFL finals hopes are in the balance after a disastrous defeat against Adelaide.
Instead of keeping pace with rival teams chasing a top-four finish, the Blues are now in a spot of bother trying to make the eight after losing against a Crows side with only pride at stake.
Carlton fell by 29 points at Adelaide Oval and remains seventh on the ladder, but with their last three matches against Brisbane (fifth), Melbourne (second) and Collingwood (third), the Blues need to spring an upset to avoid falling out of the finals picture.
The hosts seemed in trouble early but kicked away with a powerful second quarter, pinching a 15-point break they would never relent in winning their sixth game for the season.
Every time the Blues threatened to find a way back, the Crows had an answer with Ben Keays the game’s most damaging forward with three majors.
But Darcy Fogarty was happy to fight him for that title, kicking two goals, including a late special, to seal his side’s win to go with a high-flying grab in the first term.
Even if the Blues can scrape into the eight, their patchy form will again have fans questioning just what impact they might have in the finals after going without consecutive wins since rounds nine and 10.
Carlton struggled across the ground and paid the price in front of goals, delivering their equal-lowest score of the season with 55 points.
Brodie Smith was everywhere for the Crows and constantly created their attacking forays off his half-back role, finishing with a dominant 37 disposals and 13 inside 50s.
Keays found 22 touches and four goal-assists to go with his majors, while Rory Laird was powerful as usual with 32 disposals.
Adelaide hit the front midway through the second term when Lachie Murphy snapped truly to capitalise on his side’s midfield control, and they extended the advantage through Taylor Walker and Keays to move 15 points clear.
They were only four points ahead at halftime but again struck through Ned McHenry and Keays and snuffed any hope of a late fightback despite two last term goals from Carlton forward Matt Cottrell.
Carlton skipper Patrick Cripps was influential in racking up 41 touches while Sam Walsh was prolific with 40, but he certainly could have done more with that amount of ball.
Charlie Curnow kicked two majors early for the Blues, but both were from the goalsquare, and fellow power-forward Harry McKay was held to one goal as the duo well held by Adelaide’s backs.
(C) AAP 2022