ADELAIDE was once again at its imposing best on Sunday afternoon, eventually cruising past an improved Carlton and keeping its undefeated start to the season intact with a comfortable 39-point victory at Ikon Park.
The Crows were made to battle for long periods of their 7.9 (51) to 1.6 (12) win, but ultimately scrapped past both the increased effort of the Blues and some wasteful kicking of their own to grind out their fifth straight victory of the season.
BLUES v CROWS Full match coverage and stats
The dynamic duo of Ebony Marinoff (31 disposals, 10 tackles) and Anne Hatchard (25 disposals, one goal) were predictably involved in everything, combining superbly through the midfield to emerge as the architects of Adelaide's victory.
Carlton's fight was spearheaded by youngster Mimi Hill (25 disposals, four tackles), who returned from a year-long stint on the sidelines recovering from an ACL injury to spark the side's spirited first-half performance.
Stung by successive disappointing defeats heading into the match, the hosts produced a competitive opening but lacked a cutting edge in attack. It meant Carlton's beleaguered backline was again left to feel the heat when Adelaide eventually clicked into gear.
Hatchard struck early and Caitlin Gould late in the first half, with only some wayward kicking – particularly from superstar Erin Phillips, who kicked four behinds to half-time – stopping the Crows' lead from being greater than 16 points at the main break.
There were times when the visitors looked like they might be made to pay for their profligacy, especially when Georgia Gee eventually kicked the Blues' first goal thanks to a fine bullet pass from Darcy Vescio.
But a steadier from Ailish Considine calmed Adelaide nerves just before three-quarter time, before back-to-back goals from Danielle Ponter and Lisa Whiteley early in the final term eventually ended Carlton's resistance.
A mighty snap from the classy Eloise Jones and a second on the run from Considine put the finishing touches on the win – and added a much-needed boost in percentage – as the Crows stormed home.
Playing her first game in 11 months after suffering an ACL tear in March last year, Carlton youngster Mimi Hill left no doubts as to the quality she can provide when fully fit. Hill added speed, run and carry to finish with 25 disposals, four marks and four tackles. Although she tired late, Hill's performance was certainly the day's big positive for the Blues.
As ever, Adelaide's victory was inspired by the heroic efforts of Ebony Marinoff and Anne Hatchard out of the middle. Marinoff was prolific, finishing with 31 disposals, 10 tackles and eight marks to perhaps emerge as the game's best player. Hatchard was just as influential, winning 25 disposals, seven marks, six tackles and kicking the game's first goal. Put them down for votes, come best and fairest time.
Sliding doors moment
Carlton had all of the momentum late in the first quarter and looked set to finally profit on that when Courtney Jones ran into an open goal. Enter Sarah Allan. The stand-in Adelaide captain produced a fantastic chase-down tackle, arriving from virtually nowhere to thwart the Blues' efforts and help the Crows take a six-point lead into the first change. It was indicative of Adelaide's brilliant defensive performance throughout the afternoon.
"What we produced from an intent and an effort perspective today was a bit different to the last month. It's a step forward for us. It's certainly not where we want to be, but it's a step forward." - Carlton coach Daniel Harford
"It was great to get some reward (in the last quarter), but right across the game I was really happy with how we played. I just thought Carlton played pretty well as well. It was great to hang in there, then in the last quarter it went our way a bit." - Adelaide coach Matthew Clarke
Carlton is due to fly west, where it is scheduled to meet Fremantle at Fremantle Oval next Saturday night. Adelaide will return home, where it is fixtured to host the Western Bulldogs at Norwood Oval on Sunday.
CARLTON 0.2 0.3 1.3 1.6 (12)
ADELAIDE 1.2 2.7 3.9 7.9 (51)
Adelaide: Considine 2, Hatchard, Gould, Ponter, Whiteley, Jones
Carlton: Hill, Pound, Trudgeon, Egan, Prespakis
Adelaide: Marinoff, Hatchard, Jones, Phillips, McKinnon, Allan, Biddell
Carlton: Vickers (ankle)
Crowd: TBC at Ikon Park
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