CARLTON has spurned a golden opportunity to all but secure a maiden finals berth since 2013 after going down by 29 points to Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday evening.
Taylor Walker was heroic with three goals, as was Ben Keays, playing a forward negating role on Adam Saad and also booting three majors and setting up several others as Adelaide claimed the upset win 12.12 (84) to 8.7 (55).
Carlton skipper Patrick Cripps was at his brilliant best with 41 disposals including a game-high 21 contested possessions and 13 clearances, along with Sam Walsh who had 40 touches, but they couldn’t will their side over the line.
CROWS V BLUES Full match details and stats
The Blues weren’t helped by injuries, losing Corey Durdin (shoulder), Nic Newman (knee) and Matthew Kennedy (concussion), in a major worry ahead of their round 21 clash away to top four contenders Brisbane.
Adelaide won contested possessions 155-141 while Carlton's star key forwards Harry McKay and Charlie Curnow were kept relatively quiet with three goals between them, with Crows defenders Jordon Butts and second gamer Josh Worrell among their best.
The result leaves Carlton, who still have never won at Adelaide Oval, in seventh place with a 12-7 record, while it snaps 15th-placed Adelaide's four-game losing run.
Rory Laird continued his remarkable form with 32 disposals and 12 tackles, and dashing defender Brodie Smith had 37 disposals for a game-high 1,019 metres gained.
BLUES TO 'STAY PRESENT' Voss says result won't change Carlton's approach
The Crows had led by 15 points at the final change and were pushed with Matt Cottrell kicking two goals, before emerging key forward Darcy Fogarty booted the sealer, brushing off three tackles and nailing a classy right-foot snap.
Adelaide started strong around the contest, grabbing the first goal from Walker, but the Blues hit back with the next three in the first term, including two from Curnow, to grab an early advantage.
The hosts responded with the next four goals either side of quarter-time with Fogarty slotting from the boundary after a fine mark over Mitch McGovern, but majors from Jesse Motlop and McKay narrowed the gap to four points at half-time.
Keays kicked two of Adelaide's three goals in the third term to establish a 15-point buffer going into the last, before a four-goal final term clinched the win headlined by Fogarty's moment brushing aside Lachie Plowman, Lochie O'Brien and Adam Cerra and kicking truly on the turn.
Gun Crow takes on unfamiliar assignment
Keays has been a midfield ball-winner all season, averaging 28.5 disposals per game, but he was given a different assignment this week, charged with shutting down All-Australian half-back candidate Saad. Keays did that and more, making a scoreboard impact with three majors along with a game-high 11 score involvements, edging Walker's 10. Saad did finish with 26 touches, but a measure of the running defender's quality is always metres gained, managing only 388 for the game.
Demoted Silvagni gets his chance
Jack Silvagni's omission from the Carlton side this week was met with shock among the majority of Blues supporters, squeezed out upon Marc Pittonet's return to lead the ruck. The utility was named as medi sub and was injected into the action late in the first half after Durdin was subbed out. Silvagni made an impact with 13 touches, including a key goal midway through the third quarter. It remains to be seen if he can win back his place in the 22, especially with others like George Hewett, Jack Martin and Zac Williams also to come back, although Carlton's newest injuries may open up spots.
More score review frustration
The flaws of the AFL Review Centre (ARC) were shown again when Wayne Milera appeared to deftly soccer a goal over the onrushing Newman in the first quarter. However, it wouldn’t stand as the goal umpire's call was touched prior to the review which proved inconclusive, despite appearing to miss Newman's hand or fingers. Arguably the ball could have brushed Newman's shoulder or head but the contact appeared minor. The goal umpire, who was right on the spot, had the best view but inconclusive reviews remain a point of frustration.
ADELAIDE 2.4 5.6 8.9 12.12 (84)
CARLTON 3.1 5.2 6.6 8.7 (55)
Adelaide: Keays 3, Walker 3, Fogarty 2, Murphy, McHenry, Milera, Himmelberg
Carlton: C.Curnow 2, Cottrell 2, Owies, Motlop, McKay, Silvagni
Adelaide: Keays, Walker, Laird, Smith, Dawson, Worrell
Carlton: Cripps, Walsh, Cerra, McGovern, Kennedy, C.Curnow
Carlton: Durdin (shoulder), Newman (knee), Kennedy (head)
Adelaide: Ben Davis (unused)
Carlton: Jack Silvagni (replaced Corey Durdin in the second quarter)