‘Excited’ Cripps vaults Blues to 26-year best
Cripps, who is currently the bookmakers’ favourite to take out the 2022 Brownlow Medal, took another step towards the prestigious award, picking up 35 disposals and kicking two goals as Carlton ran out 17. 14. (116) to 10. 8. (68) winners at Marvel Stadium.
The win sees Carlton end round eight in fourth position on the ladder behind Melbourne, Fremantle and Brisbane. Carlton’s 6-2 record after eight rounds is its best start to a home and away season since 1996.
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“I’m super excited. We’re starting to find our identity as a team,” Cripps told Fox Footy after the win.
“We knew it was going to take a bit of time, but win or lose, we still want to find ways we can grow.
“I feel like the last two weeks we’ve played more of a four-quarter performance. We probably didn’t finish off the way we wanted, but to come out after half-time and really put the foot down was pleasing.”
After struggling with a number of injuries over the last few seasons, Cripps has returned to some of his best football, emulating the gaudy numbers he set when he was last named an All-Australian back in 2019.
The 27-year-old has notched over 30 disposals in six out of his seven appearances this season, with the round four loss to the Gold Coast Suns the only time he didn’t reach the mark – to which he was subbed off early with a hamstring injury.
While he’s playing at a career-best level himself, Cripps was quick to point to his midfield running mates as a reason for his success.
“Our midfield at the moment is going really well and we’re just complementing each other,” he said.
“We’re all playing our role and I feel like a lot of guys are playing really good footy in there. We’re a pretty tight group and we love playing footy with each other.”
Cripps was far from the sole star for the Blues against Adelaide, with Charlie Curnow continuing his brilliant comeback season with season-high six-goal haul.
Curnow, who played just 15 games across the previous three seasons due to a number of knee injuries, has played in all eight games this season and his 25 goals sits only behind Richmond’s Tom Lynch on the AFL goal-kicking chart.
“It’s two years out of the game and he’s come back a better player,” Cripps said of Curnow.
“He probably could’ve kicked about 10 today. He’s a high-energy player and we love it when he’s up and about.
“You pair him with H (Harry McKay) and Jack Silvagni down there, it just gives us so many different looks.”
The Blues face a tough trip to Sydney to take on the GWS Giants next week, while the Crows also face a stiff task as they host the Brisbane Lions in Adelaide.