Adelaide have scored a thrilling nine-point win over a gallant Carlton in a match that was overshadowed by a knee injury that appears likely to end Chris Judd’s career.
Judd was stretchered from the field with what the club later announced was probably a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in the first quarter, but the brave Blues pushed the Crows all the way before they posted the 14.15 (99) to 14.6 (90) win.
In a see-sawing final term, Carlton took the lead through Levi Casboult and looked set to run away with the contest, but Josh Jenkins, who kicked five goals on the day, was vital as the visitors got out of jail against the last-placed Blues.
Patrick Dangerfield was important with 26 touches and Sam Jacobs finished with 39 hitouts to be among their side’s key contributors.
Marc Murphy, who has worn so much criticism for his club’s poor season, was outstanding with 36 possessions, while Casboult finished with three majors.
The spirit and endeavour that has been so sadly lacking in Carlton’s play for most of the season was back with a vengeance from the outset as the fired-up Blues kicked the first three goals of the match.
An eerie silence descended on the MCG as Judd departed the ground on the motorised cart and the Crows got their act together after the restart with a six-goals-to-one burst that propelled them to a 14-point quarter-time lead.
Adelaide failed to capitalise on their momentum, however, with the wastefulness that has dogged them of late returning to haunt them.
Phil Walsh’s side kicked 4.10 across the second and third quarters and the resurgent Blues kept coming.
In his first game of the season, luckless ruckman Matthew Kreuzer kicked two goals in the third term as Carlton slashed a 19-point halftime deficit to just four at three-quarter time.
With their finals aspirations in question, the Crows were challenged hard in a pulsating final term, but two goals to Jenkins were pivotal as Adelaide hung on.