This has been brewing for a little while.
Greater Western Sydney have looked at times like everything is about to click, and looked at others like they were trying to pick their nose with rubber gloves on. You ever tried it? It’s not easy.
Carlton, on the other hand, have threatened. They’ve threatened to break out of this funk that has enveloped Ikon Park for years, and then they’ve turned around and threatened to go backwards.
Today the threats ceased.
The Giants made good on their threats, completely obliterating the Blues in the first half to go in at half time leading by a whopping 74 points. Things clicked in a big way as, even without superstar mid Stephen Coniglio, they were able to generate huge amounts of run and carry through the middle, allowing for easy entries.
And the Blues stopped threatening as well, delivering one of the most insipid first half performances you’ll see.
Truth is, I am starting this review having watched the first half. I’ve seen enough in terms of critical analysis. The second half will amount to little but junk time. I’ve already got the votes in mind. Three for Taranto. Two for Whitfield. One for de Boer. They’re the ones making the difference, irrespective of what happens from here.
I’ll still be watching, but the Giants have well and truly sewn this one up, and done it in style.
Here’s the good, bad and ugly.
I still expect Tim Taranto to have some down days here and there. In his third season, he is almost +7 in disposals per game, and is looking more and more comfortable at the top level.
But he’s a baby – at 21 he has usurped the role once occupied by Dylan Shiel and made it his own.
Usually, Taranto is right up the top of the tackle count, but today he had only four… it must be hard to lay tackles when your opponents seemingly never have possession of the ball, huh?
Taranto was everywhere in the first quarter. He and Lachie Whitfield ran riot through the middle and the Blues mids simply could not keep up. His repeat efforts at stoppages, his willingness to bang into opponents and knock them off the ball – he played at a level that belied his years.
Looking across the square at players like Zac ‘The Hack’ Fisher*, Sam ‘Sometimes’ Petrevski-Seton, and Paddy ‘Panic’ Dow, it is painfully obvious that Taranto has made the steps that Carlton wishes their young mids had taken.
He wins his own ball, runs hard to position, spreads beautifully, and makes those around him better.
*The hack comment is purely about his disposal, not about him as an overall talent, and in truth his disposal was okay in the second half.
LACHIE WHITFIELD DROPS 50!
Drops 50? What do you mean, Mongrel?
Well, you see there is this little system I worked out, and the link to the article is right here – Dropping 50.
When a player can get to the figure of 50 with the basic totals from their effective disposals, goals, marks and tackles, it is the equivalent of an NBA player dropping 50 here at the Mongrel. It’s a statistical anomaly, and one of those little quirky footy things we invented.
So, Whitfield had 31 effective disposals, 18 marks, three goals and four tackles. By my count, that adds up to 56. What a game for Whitfield.
I just want to say thanks to reader, Troy Edwards who alerted me to the fact that Whitfield had dropped 50 today. Troy is a true Mongrel indeed. Thanks Troy.
THE OTHER POWER FORWARD
I mentioned a couple of weeks back that GWS were okay with allowing Jeremy Finlayson to wander off into the sunset after last season. Playing as a defender, he may have been seen as somewhat surplus to the needs of the Giants.
Well, they kept him, and there’d be quite a few list managers kicking themselves for not having a legitimate crack at securing his services. Melbourne sure could use someone to play alongside Tom McDonald. With Jarryd Roughead in the VFL, Finlayson would go okay in the Hawks forward half as well. And you think he’d make the best 22 at Carlton? Maybe best five is more accurate.
He was the in everything in the first quarter, kicking goals, and setting up others. His deft little tap to Brent Daniels in the first quarter was brilliant, and not only did he snag five goals of his own, he was responsible for two more, and had ten score involvements overall.
Jeremy Cameron has garnered the majority of the press this year, and rightfully so, but with 21 goals to his name, the other Jeremy is proving to be a revelation in his new role.
I have to say, Leon Cameron has not been given the credit he deserves for finding this role for Finlayson… but he’ll get it from The Mongrel.
OLD UNCLE HEATH
Uncle Heater? Uncie Heat?
As Zac Williams spent the second half on the pine nursing a hamstring injury, Heath Shaw slotted into a familiar role, and did it with aplomb.
Happy to play second fiddle in 2019 to a younger, faster version of himself, Shaw was prolific after the break, intercepting, running, carrying and hitting targets. The Giants are just so deep that when a soldier falls, another slots right in and they don’t miss a beat.
Last year was the anomaly, as soldiers fell as though they were under machine gun fire. This year, as one drops, another takes up his position. Shaw will keep the running defender role warm for Williams until he is right to return, and amazingly, the Giants lose very little in the process.
Every time I hear that Toby Greene is out of the GWS side, my heart sinks a little. He is the key to their premiership hopes. He is the one player, when fit, that creates havoc, creates mismatches, and creates mischief.
He amassed 34 touches in this one, which is his highest total since 2016. Give the Blues some credit… they really know how to play someone into form. Greene had a bit of a party, with ten score involvements and eight inside 50s, but it was his quick thinking… almost too quick at times, that made a real difference.
Little knock ons, quick kicks under pressure to the advantage of his teammates, and four clearances in his time in the midfield capped the kind of day that would make Toby smile.
THE NEW KING
Can we pass the mantle over to de Boer right now? It was the crown that Ben Jacobs used to wear before his sinus and concussion-related issues sat him out last year. As time goes on, I’m afraid we won’t see him again.
If the King is dead… then long live the new King!
Matt de Boer against Patrick Cripps was always going to be the pivotal matchup in this clash. I actually wrote about it during the week and got some interesting messages as a result. I was called an idiot, which may or may not be true. I was called a hater, which definitely isn’t true, and I was called a hack, which definitely is true.
But what I wasn’t called, by anyone for that matter, was correct, and even now, I may have been wrong. Maybe it didn’t matter that Matt de Boer gave Patrick Cripps a bath? Maybe it didn’t matter if Cripps had wandered around collecting disposals at will and ended with 50. Without support, it doesn’t matter what he does.
But speaking of not mattering… none of the above matters to Matt de Boer. What matters to him is doing his job, and doing it well.
Guess what? He did it.
The last time Patrick Cripps had 12 touches or less in a game was his final game of 2017, and that was due to injury. Before that, we’re looking at 2014, when he was but a child. If we’re going to sit here and laud Cripps when he does the incredible, we should do the same for the person playing on him when he is made to look ordinary.
Whilst Cripps compiled his worst game in ages, de Boer smiled and went on his way, collecting 27 disposals as the Giants ran rampant over the hapless Blues. We’ll get to more of Cripps soon, but de Boer once again proved that his presence in the GWS team is something to be reckoned with in 2019. He’s claimed Zach Merrett, Dustin Martin, Tim Kelly, and now he can add Patrick Cripps to the hit list. Quite an impressive array of talent he’s disposed of.
PADDY CRIPPS HITS THE WALL
This was bound to happen sooner or later. When you put the team on your back, week in and week out, it starts to weigh you down.
Paddy Cripps looked as though his back was about to give out today. He was frustrated, he was angry, and really… I cannot blame him one bit.
Not only did he have Matt de Boer to deal with, he had a midfield of either inexperience, or ineptitude to back him up. Let’s run through them.
Sam Petrevski-Seton – has shown a bit this season. Showed SFA today, with 14 touches at an abysmal 28% efficiency. That’s under 12 efficiency.
Paddy Dow – 11 touches and has not developed in his second year the way Carlton had hoped, particularly with Sam Walsh coming in to take the heat as the great navy blue hope.
Zac Fisher – Quick, and has had moments this season. Used the ball well today but as an outside player, that’s the minimum expectation.
Will Setterfield – 17 touches at 41% efficiency.
Marc Murphy – banged up by big Mummy and on the sidelines early.
So, without Matt Kennedy again, who is injured more often than he is remotely healthy, if the Blues don’t get 30-odd touches from Cripps, and ten or so clearances, they’re screwed.
And every week, that load gets heavier and heavier as the season wears on. I hope it doesn’t eventually break him.
Bluntly, he looked shot today.
He had a decent run in the second half, but in the first… he gave away free kicks and hacked the ball like a youngster… only without the youthful enthusiasm of a youngster.
I’ve never been a huge fan of Thomas’ delivery, but I’ve always loved his endeavour. Today, early in the game, I think his passion was misplaced, and his efforts to free Patrick Cripps up resulted in a free kick to Matt de Boer, who believe me, did not require handouts from Daisy to get his hands on it.
NO GREEN SHOOTS. NO… ANYTHING
Forget the green shoots. It was as though someone poured some weed killer over the sprouts and they started to wither right before our eyes.
Carlton’s last few weeks have been atrocious with a spattering of good to give a little hope. Their loss to North Melbourne was bad, but this made that performance look like they were world-beaters. If GWS are the Ferraris of the competition, Carlton are like the beaten up old ford you see sitting by the highway. Their owners want to tow them and get them fixed, but they’re not quite sure it’s worth the cost.
It’s amazing how quickly hope can completely vanish, but that’s where Carlton supporters find themselves at the moment. They’re looking at a list with so few parts that are ready to work right now. They’ve been patient, and are being told to be patient some more. At what point does their patience completely run out?
Speaking to one Carlton supporter tonight, there was such a flat tone to his feelings on his team. It was like he was numb – completely devoid of passion. Anger would be one thing, but from him I got… nothing.
In life, it’s passion that drives you. Love, hate, anger, excitement… if you have one of them, it can propel you forward. The passion Carlton supporters had a few weeks back has now fallen away. It’s gone.
I look at the Blues supporters like a dog that has been kicked too many times. Eventually, that dog learns a lesson, and doesn’t come back to sit at its owner’s feet. It doesn’t want to be kicked any more.
And neither do Blues supporters, particularly when those doing the kicking are the ones they were once so passionate about, ones they love.
Interesting to see Jeremy Cameron moved away from goal in the second quarter. If there was a bit of selfishness about him, or his team, you’d think he would’ve spent a fair amount of time right in the goal square, but while Coleman Medals are nice, Premiership Medals are the goal here. He had 27 touches for the game as he was able to get on his bike, but ended with another goalless afternoon, wayward again with four behinds for the second week on the trot.
I guess that puts paid to any discussion of a possible ton, huh?
I had Zac Williams firmly in the best when his hamstring went twang. He looked like a man on a mission this week after being found out a little last week on the expanses of the MCG. He was really compiling some big numbers, and had made a cosy little spot for himself inside the top 20 of The Mongrel’s Player Power Rankings last week. This’ll hurt that spot.
I know this was a Sunday twilight game, but seeing a whole grandstand completely empty is disappointing.
Was it about this time last year when the footy world jumped on the Charlie Curnow bandwagon? How times change… He has four goals in six games this year, and whether it is injury, confidence or the result of poor delivery, he has gone backwards.
Phil Davis… another great captain’s knock in defence. Harry McKay had a decent start to the game, and as Carlton’s only legitimate forward target (no, Curnow is not a legit target at the moment), a lot of the ball was directed through him. Davis owned defensive 50 from the second quarter onwards and finished with 14 intercept disposals to lead all players.
And that’ll about do me. Great win by the Giants who head back to the MCG to take on Melbourne, and can effectively kill the Dees’ season. Carlton get a chance at redemption as they run into the struggling Saints, who find the sheen coming off a season that threatened to sparkle early on.
One shining light for the Blues – the returning Nic Newman. he was their only rebound defender, and actually looked like he wasn’t panicked when he got the ball, unlike 21 others wearing navy blue.
Amazing that I am at the end and there’s this bloke out there named Josh Kelly, who had 35 touches, and was great in the first half, and I am only getting around to him now. Seven clearances, 11 score involvements… in any other game he’d be judged best on ground, but there were plenty of stars in the GWS sky today. Kelly was one of many.
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