Darcy Fogarty and Jordan Dawson celebrate a goal during Adelaide's clash against Carlton in round five, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

WELCOME to Adelaide.

As the footy world converged on South Australia for the inaugural Gather Round, it was only right that the Adelaide Football Club put on a show. Its ruthless 56-point hammering of Carlton was the type of home team performance worthy of kickstarting a special weekend of action.

While the general public might be hoping for four days of footy heaven during Gather Round, it took the Crows barely 30 minutes to bury the Blues. They kicked eight of the first nine goals on Thursday night, creating a 42-point buffer midway through the opening quarter, before easing to an 18.10 (118) to 9.8 (62) victory.

CROWS v BLUES Full match coverage and stats

They found goals from eight different players during their first-quarter massacre, belting their woeful opponents out of the centre, smashing them in contested ball and then clinically picking them apart with the footy. It set up a third straight win and rubberstamped their claim as a genuine finals contender in 2023.


Adelaide's one-two punch in the midfield was as influential as ever. Rory Laird had 37 disposals, nine clearances, 15 score involvements and a goal in a trademark tough display, while captain Jordan Dawson was the classiest player on the field to finish with 32 disposals, seven clearances, nine tackles, three goal assists and 11 score involvements.

Ben Keays not only tagged All-Australian defender Adam Saad out of the game, but also kicked three goals himself, while the Crows found just as handy contributions from a returning Darcy Fogarty (five goals, two goal assists) and veteran Taylor Walker (three goals, nine marks) throughout the night.

With captain and reigning Brownlow Medal winner Patrick Cripps held to just 19 disposals, Carlton found ball-winners hard to come by. Adam Cerra (23 disposals, five clearances) was impressive, while Ed Curnow (23 disposals, eight tackles) also worked hard, but the Blues simply didn't have enough going for them.

Superstar midfielder Sam Walsh had 25 disposals and a goal in his long-awaited return from a back injury, but not even his tireless comeback could inspire Carlton. Instead, the Blues delivered an insipid first quarter effort where they were outworked, outrun and outsmarted in every facet of the game.


The seventh of Adelaide's eight opening term goals painted a neat picture of the match itself, as Brodie Smith delivered a clever pass to an unmarked Laird – the Crows' fifth grab inside 50 for the quarter – then waltzed unchecked through the corridor to gather the handball receive in return and kick truly for goal.

Carlton kicked three unanswered majors in the second term as it sought to make amends, at one stage even reducing the deficit to just 18 points, but late steadiers from Fogarty and then Chayce Jones restored a 31-point buffer by half-time and ensured Adelaide's dominant start was honoured by the main break.

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The game broke into a holding pattern throughout the second half, with the Crows in control and the Blues unable to make a dent in an already significant margin. Keays added two more in the third, relishing his task on Saad, as the hosts succeeded in inflicting maximum damage with minimum fuss.

Even a bright Blues start couldn't restrict their deficit to anything under four goals in the final term, with one more pinpoint Fogarty set shot from deep inside the boundary eventually and a snap from the square settling a satisfying night for the Crows and ensuring the perfect way for a host of South Australians to start a landmark weekend.


Crows cause early Gather Round carnage
This was a contest that had virtually been won by quarter-time. Adelaide took complete control of the game after booting eight of its opening nine goals, including two in the first two minutes. The stats sheet told the story of the Crows' domination. As well as being 38 points up by the first break, Matthew Nicks' side had won 67 more disposals, eight more clearances, 21 more contested possessions and had taken 18 more marks. They scored from 11 of their 20 entries, finding goalkickers from eight individual sources. It was as dominant as any side has been all year and laid the foundations for the club's comfortable victory.

Nicks plays the right Keays again
Late last season, in an upset Adelaide win that shook Carlton's finals ambitions to the core, Crows coach Matthew Nicks elected to tag All-Australian half-back Adam Saad with tough midfielder Ben Keays. It proved a masterstroke. On Thursday night, he played the same tune again. Keays went to Saad and not only nullified the speedster's impact and run from the backline, but also surged forward to hurt the Blues on the scoreboard himself. Keays kicked three goals in that contest last year, and finished with three majors from 16 disposals and nine score involvements to begin Gather Round. Meanwhile, Saad had just 17 touches and couldn't work himself into the game.


'Gov' blow causes late Blues drama
Carlton suffered a late, late setback when defender Mitch McGovern was withdrawn just minutes before the game's opening bounce having dealt with calf tightness in the warm-up. McGovern was sore all week after copping a knock to his thigh on Good Friday, but had been deemed fit to play on Tuesday. However, his withdrawal forced Lachie Plowman into the team for his first appearance of the season and meant a shake-up down back for the Blues. Their structure was further impacted early in the second term when ruckman Marc Pittonet was subbed out of the match with an eye injury, replaced by Josh Honey.


ADELAIDE         8.3     10.5     13.7     18.10 (118)
CARLTON          2.1      5.4       7.7         9.8 (62)

Adelaide: Fogarty 5, Walker 3, Keays 3, Smith, Rankine, Rachele, Pedlar, McHenry, Laird, Jones
McKay 2, Durdin 2, C.Curnow 2, Walsh, Motlop, Acres

Adelaide: Dawson, Laird, Fogarty, Jones, Keays, Rachele, Walker, Doedee
Carlton: Cerra, Walsh, E.Curnow, Weitering, C.Curnow 

Adelaide: Nil
Pittonet (eye)

Carlton: Mitch McGovern (calf) replaced in selected side by Lachie Plowman

Adelaide: Ned McHenry (replaced Jake Soligo in the fourth quarter)
Carlton: Josh Honey (replaced Marc Pittonet in the second quarter)

Crowd: 47,395 at the Adelaide Oval