CARLTON'S faint finals hopes didn't just fade on Sunday. They went up in flames.
CROWS MAKE IT THREE IN A ROW Full match coverage and stats
With the Blues still in the mix to make the top eight if they beat Adelaide at Metricon Stadium, that chance was dashed by a rampant Crows outfit who completed a shock 16-point victory to all but bundle Carlton out of the running.
The damage was done early in the 10.12 (72) to 8.8 (56) result, with the Blues trailing by 31 points at the first change after Adelaide kept David Teague's men goalless.
An expectation of a rapid turnaround, as the Blues have been able to manufacture at different stages this season, didn't transpire in the second quarter as the Crows continued to dominate and extend their lead to 42 points at the main break.
Carlton was better after half-time, booting seven goals to two, but by then they had given themselves too much work to do as Adelaide held on to their third straight win.
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Coach Matthew Nicks will be most buoyed by the players who led the charge. Youngster Lachie Sholl had a breakout game with 24 disposals and two goals, and Harry Schoenberg (21 disposals) and Andrew McPherson (17) continued to show strong signs, while Elliott Himmelberg, Chayce Jones and Shane McAdam combined for four goals.
Matt Crouch was also busy in the midfield with 28 disposals, including 13 in the first quarter to help set up the win, while Rory Laird and final-gamer Bryce Gibbs were among Adelaide's best.
With four goals Harry McKay was a standout for Carlton in attack, while Sam Walsh (22 disposals) and Patrick Cripps, who kicked an amazing team-lifting goal in the third term, were also solid. But the Blues, who lost co-captain Sam Docherty to a calf injury in the first quarter, will rue the defeat when so much was on the line.
Will the Crows still have pick No.1?
The Crows looked to have last spot on the ladder sewn up after their 13-game losing streak to start the season. But impressive wins over Hawthorn, Greater Western Sydney and the Blues have seen them draw level with 17th-placed North Melbourne for victories in 2020. North Melbourne will enter the final round 5.5 per cent ahead on the ladder, but they have been on the end of heavy defeats for the past three weeks and face a finals-bound West Coast in round 18. If Adelaide can be competitive against Richmond next week and the Eagles continue the Roos' misery, the Crows could move from 18th position.
Gibbs bids farewell
The scriptwriter nearly nailed it for Gibbs' 268th and last AFL game. The former Blues star and No.1 draft pick farewelled footy on Sunday after announcing his retirement mid-week. Gibbs was busy in defence as the Crows controlled the contest, and finished with 27 disposals, including a set shot in the final minute of the game that would have capped the win. Gibbs was chaired off by former Blues teammates Marc Murphy and Kade Simpson. Watching on in the stands was Carlton retiree Matthew Kreuezer, who was cheered by Blues fans at the ground when spotted on the big screen.
Eddie's familiar faces
It went under the radar but it was Eddie Betts' first game against the Crows since his departure at the end of last year. Betts appeared to enjoy the occasion, mingling with former teammates pre-game and even chatting to the Crows players while he, and them, were waiting on the interchange bench for the next batch of rotations. The 33-year-old, who is keen to play on next year, had a quiet afternoon as Carlton struggled to hit the scoreboard.
CARLTON 0.2 1.3 4.5 8.8 (56)
ADELAIDE 5.3 8.5 8.8 10.12 (72)
Carlton: McKay 4, Cripps, McGovern, O'Brien, Setterfield
Adelaide: Himmelberg 2, Sholl 2, B.Crouch, Frampton, Jones, Lynch, McAdam, Smith
Carlton: McKay, Walsh, Setterfield, Cripps, Gibbons
Adelaide: Sholl, M.Crouch, Laird, Schoenberg, B.Crouch, Gibbs
Carlton: Docherty (calf), Fisher (shoulder)