The Five: Round 15

Highlights R15: Call it a Knight
Riley Knight kicks the sealer against Carlton at the MCG

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JULY 01: Josh Jenkins of the Crows (L) celebrates a goal with Eddie Betts during the round 15 AFL match between the Carlton Blues and the Adelaide Crows at Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 1, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images/AFL Media)

1. Will Gibbs continue player movement history?

Carlton and Adelaide have an interesting exchange history despite few picks being involved. The highest-profile switch between the clubs came in 2013, when restricted free agent Eddie Betts accepted a reported $2 million, four-year deal to join the Crows. The Blues did not match it and received no compensation, because Dale Thomas crossed to them from Collingwood at the same time. Betts has become one of the greatest small forwards ever, while Thomas has battled injuries and poor form despite some improvement this season. Carlton had a small victory in a 2015 deal, gaining Sam Kerridge and the No.28 selection (later used as part of a trade for four Greater Western Sydney players) from Adelaide for Troy Menzel, who was the No.11 pick in the 2012 NAB AFL Draft. Kerridge, who quelled Rory Sloane on Saturday, has played 24 matches since, compared to out-of-favour Menzel’s four. Ex-Crow Matthew Wright, a delisted free agent, also joined the Bluebaggers in 2015 and won the club’s goalkicking last year. But the potential next move – that of Bryce Gibbs – is the one fascinating everyone. Gibbs’ request to go home last year for family reasons was unsuccessful, with Adelaide refusing to give up two first-round picks for the 2006 No.1 choice. Carlton also declined the Crows’ counter offer. Whether negotiations resume at season’s end remains to be seen.

2. The 100-point factor

The trend this year is if you keep Adelaide – the AFL’s most prolific team – below triple figures, you win the match. That was the case in the Crows’ four defeats, and they were off 100-point pace for most of the day, despite kicking four goals in the first 15 minutes. It was always going to be tougher to pile on a big tally against a Carlton defence often with eight or nine players stationed behind the ball. Blue Liam Sumner knotted the scores from the goalsquare at the 14-minute mark of the third term, only for Adelaide to pull away by 17 points, albeit with some wastefulness in front of goal. Brendon Bolton’s men weren’t done, booting three-straight majors for their first lead of the day by just one point. But the Crows responded again before Riley Knight, thanks to some Eddie Betts intervention, finally sealed victory as the clock ticked past 28 minutes. 

3. Blues take more direct path

It looked like a long afternoon for Carlton fans when the Crows roared out of the blocks and reduced their rivals to chipping the ball backwards to each other down back. There was one occasion it went on so long that even the supporters were audibly groaning. The Blues amassed 117 disposals in the first quarter for just one goal (Adelaide’s respective numbers were 86 and four), but there appeared a deliberate focus to be more direct from that point – and it paid off. Carlton’s corresponding figures were 85 and 4.1 in the second term; 100 and 3.1 in the third; and 92 and 4.3 in the last. More interesting will be whether the Blues can maintain that ratio for the rest of the year. 

4. Make that five

Carlton’s rebirth under coach Brendon Bolton and list manager Stephen Silvagni has not only been noticed in its extra competitiveness on the field in the past two seasons. The Blues’ top pick in the 2015 draft, swingman Jacob Weitering, was nominated for the NAB AFL Rising Star Award last year and four teammates – Caleb Marchbank, Sam Petrevski-Seton, David Cuningham and Jack Silvagni – followed suit already in 2017. Expect a fifth on Monday, courtesy of athletic tall forward Charlie Curnow. He had career highs in possessions (22) and marks (11), produced four inside 50s and kicked a booming goal in the last quarter to give Carlton hope. There is talk of Curnow eventually becoming a tall midfielder, like Patrick Cripps, but he looked every bit a forward on Saturday.

5. Sloane Ranger underwhelming again

This time it was Rory Sloane’s former teammate, Sam Kerridge, who put the clamps on him.  The 2016 Virgin Australia AFL All Australian’s blistering start to the season is now a distant memory. Kerridge not only dulled Sloane’s influence, but won much more of the ball (27 to 19). He also responded to his opponent’s big grab and goal in the second quarter with a scintillating finish from the edge of the centre square at the ensuing centre bounce. Roo Sam Gibson, Demon Bernie Vince – another ex-clubmate – Cat Mark Blicavs, Saint Koby Stevens and Hawk Daniel Howe have all got the better of Sloane in the previous seven rounds.

Source: Adelaide Crows website

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