Both teams came into this game 1-2. Gold Coast has had the up and down season, suffering hard-
fought losses to both the Eagles and Crows at their home grounds. In between, they dealt a thrashing
to a hapless North Melbourne. Carlton started with two losses to bitter rivals in Richmond and
Collingwood, and then produced an out-of-the-box performance to comfortably account for
Fremantle.

Both teams needed this win to keep their season on track and this game was a difficult game to try
and pick. There were a number of big factors to consider.

There were two strong midfields, and key match ups at each end that could tilt the balance either way. Throw on top of that, that the apparent ruck dominance lay at the feet of Marc Pittonet to simply reach out and grab, and you would say that Carlton would go in slight favourites.

This game was played in humid conditions which made it very slippery and players skills suffered as a
result. It became a battle for territory and by the last quarter not many on either side had the ability
to break out of a jog.

Alas, it was Carlton who dominated these areas of the game and pushed Gold Coast back into
the deepest trenches of their defence and held them there until they broke. Like a boxer working
over an opponent in the corner, the Blues peppered the Suns with shots until enough landed to
either send them to the mat or win by a count-back.

But anyway, let’s get into the stuff that mattered…

The Best Stuff:

 

Liam Jones:

If you want to look at players in a run of hot form, look no further than Liam Jones. Already leading
the Mongrel Punt Defensive Player of the Year, (written, and scored by the Mongrels fearless leader)
Jones will be absolutely extending that lead on the back of his best-on-ground performance against
the Suns.

Jones dominated the centre line of the field tonight; such was Carlton’s dominance in field position I
believe he would’ve had more intercepts in the midfield than in actual defensive 50 (he only had the
four disposals in defensive 50 for the entire game). Such was his positioning, at times, that I actually
thought Gold Coast players kicked him the footy instead of his opponent.

He had plenty of friends enjoying the spoils of the chaos footy emanating from the hard-fought
midfield contest further up field as well, but we’ll get to them.

It must feel so good for him to be in such form. To look over at the mixture of his opponents tonight
in Burgess, Graham (two very young key position players) and later Lukosius, and disregard them the
same way that he once was by the likes of Scarlett, Glass and Lake.

I will acknowledge the one big mistake he made in the third quarter, when he turned the ball over in
the middle of the field which let the Suns back into the contest, but nobody is perfect.

Jones stood gigantically tall as the guard tower in Carlton’s impressive defensive wall that the Suns
simply could not break through. Nine of his 13 intercepts were marks. He had 21 disposals, five
inside 50’s and still managed to get over and assist Weitering in shutting down Ben King for the
night.

 

The Weiter-king:

The Ying to Jones’ Yang, forming the other pillar of the Great Wall of Carlton. Weitering, however,
also had the job of shutting down the Suns’ premier forward in Ben King. To put it mildly, King had a
down night. Don’t get me wrong, he worked bloody hard and presented well. He continually
contested in out-numbered situations. He was just beaten by a top-class key defender in Weitering.
After kicking the first goal of the match very early, King would’ve been hoping to replicate his
brother’s performance from earlier in the day. There was only one problem though – a guy called
Jacob Weitering.

Weitering just about matched Jones in intercepts and metres gained. He had more rebound 50’s, but
I think that is a testament to the more attacking role Jones played, whereas Weitering actually had a
genuine forward to shut down. The area that Weitering shines in his own right is the one percenters.
Just a lazy 15 of them for Weitering (most of them spoils), to showcase the consummate defender
he is at heart.

Weitering blanketed King. It seemed no matter how hard King works he just couldn’t shake him off
his tail. It was a classic duel between a big defender and forward who were largely left to their own
devices to simply duke-out the contest. Weitering emerged a clear victor and added the scalp of Ben
King to a notch on his belt. Next stop, Charlie Dixon. Mouth-watering.

 

Hugh Greenwood:

Big performance from Greenwood in this game. Given the job on Patrick Cripps for large chunks of it,
Greenwood more than delivered for coach Stuart Dew as when he was on Cripps, the Carlton champ wasn’t
effective. Then when Greenwood wasn’t on him, he was winning his own footy and fighting
against the Carlton onslaught in-close and claiming back valuable field position for the Suns. This
included a vital third quarter goal to break the run of four consecutive Carlton goals.

Greenwood harassed Cripps and bodied up to him expertly well in the contest. It was great to see
someone who had the physicality to match Cripps really put his game to the test, as most
midfielders fall short to the stature of players such as Cripps and Fyfe etc. Cripps did work his way
into the game, but Greenwood clearly won this match-up.

He would finish with 27 disposals, 18 contested possessions, 10 clearances and 10 tackles. Cripps
had respectable numbers in 21, 14, four and nine, but nowhere near what Carlton fans would’ve
been hoping for coming into this game. He did threaten when he was stationed up forward, but that
was about it for him.

 

Ed Curnow – Franky

I’m going to be upfront and say I am a big fan of this guy. The game that got me was when he ended
up having that hairline fracture in his leg but kept on playing. Just a real gutsy player that gives
everything.

I also want to address the fact that I think he’s currently a look-alike for a young Vince Colosimo.
Particularly with the short curls which harken back to the glorious The Wog Boy movie.

Curnow was the most consistent midfielder on the ground tonight. Consistently presenting up to
each contest and either winning the contested footy or spreading and delivering it forward. He
definitely seems to have added some size to his frame as he now casts an imposing figure on the
footy field.

Curnow finished with 32 disposals and he only trailed Cripps in contested possessions for Carlton
and led the team in clearances with eight. His long-range goal in the second quarter was sublime to
snatch the lead back for Carlton, as well as the momentum.

Just remember Ed, “Curls get the Girls… Write that down”.

 

Noah Anderson:

Not the greatest start to this game for Anderson, but boy, once he got going, he just didn’t bloody
stop. 19 second half disposals, for a total of 30. The majority of his possessions were contested. But
what I was most impressed by was his endeavour. The Suns were needing a lift in the second half,
and continually I saw Anderson, in-an-under fighting and winning the footy.

His teammates had
stopped to walk at times, but Anderson kept coming. It is crazy that this kid is in his second year of
footy, and how all the focus on Rowell has sort of left him in his shadow, if only slightly, and
definitely not for much longer if he keeps this up.

 

The Good Stuff:

The Collins-oscopy:

Collins was put in the spotlight this week by fellow Mongrel, Brett Hodgson. Coming off a
disappointing performance against the in-form key-forward in the comp in Tex walker and heading
straight into Harry McKay fresh off a seven-goal game of his own. Collins needed to respond if his
team was going to have any chance at limiting the scoring power of the Carlton forward line.
And didn’t Collins respond?

He kept McKay statless in the first quarter and only to a single disposal up to half time. A half where Carlton had 33 inside 50’s. Collin’s was on McKay like a bad smell and refused to give him an inch in that first half. But alas, the weight of numbers would eventually hurt Collins’ ability to blanket McKay. However, I want it made clear that McKay only kicked one goal on Collins in a clear win for the defender. How the umpire let him take the shot after Jack Silvagni hurt his shoulder I will never know. A quick rewatch shows McKay nowhere near the vicinity of the incident and at least four Carlton players closer to it.

 

Touk Miller:

Greenwoods’ partner in the midfield. Miller reminds me of Bobby Boucher from The Waterboy. Just
a tackling machine. And it may be rubbing off on some of his teammates (or it could just be a good
team strategy), either way, Millers sets the standard for an accountable midfielder.
Miller also had my favourite moment of the game where he squared off with Ed Curnow in the
battle of the big little rucks in the second quarter after a turnover caught both sides rucks out of
position and two random players needing to contest the duel. Miller laid down a beautiful tap to a
teammate that started the chain for Gold Coast’s first goal.

 

The Doc:

A very good game by Docherty in this one. Provided excellent run and support to Weitering and
Jones. He also had eight intercepts of his own. His teammates know he has elite skills and look to get
the ball in his hands, providing he hasn’t just won it himself in a typical Docherty fashion of
outsmarting his opponent. Docherty was the best interceptor on the park and I think if we swapped him
and Bowes, it just might’ve been Gold Coast winning this game.

 

The Not So Good Stuff:

 

The Bowes Boomerang:

Speaking of Jack Bowes. He had another large possession game in this one. Particularly early on
when it seemed like he could be in for a blinder.

Bowes has received a reputation of being an elite ball user, but his use was anything but that, in this
game. Too often Bowes held the ball for too long and didn’t honour the lead directly in front of him,
trying to find a better or perfect option. He sat the ball up on teammates numerous times and even
just missed them all together. He had 31 kicks and 10 direct turnovers.

Even the midfielders who are hacking the footy out of stoppages don’t have that any turnovers, for
an elite user coming out of defence it is just unacceptable. And it was worse late in the game, when
the chips were down, and the Suns really needed some good use.

As stated above, his work earlier in the game was still solid and his numbers will look great on face
value (I’m sure there are plenty of supercoach and fantasy players who will be happy enough with
his game), but I know there are Suns supporters out there who will no doubt be a little frustrated by
some of his decisions with the footy.

 

Izak Rankine:

Despite the commentators’ love affair with Rankine he had an absolute stinker in this one.
Particularly in the first half. Rankine’s eight clangers were only topped by Bowes nine. At half time
Rankine had four free kicks against and five turnovers from five disposals. Yet I can imagine that if he
had slotted that goal late in the last quarter all would have been forgiven and he would have been
hailed as a hero.

How close he came to salvaging the night for himself. I will make some excuses for
him due to the conditions and delivery of the footy, not to mention the quality of the Carlton
defence, but he will need to seriously lift his efforts if he is going to have a positive impact on this
Gold Coast team.

 

The Other Stuff

 

The Ruck Factor:

As stated in the commentary, Gold Coast matched the Blues in clearances despite the latter’s ruck
dominance. But as the commentators lamented the Blues apparent inability to capitalise on a
dominant ruck and crush the Suns in clearances, they miss the whole point of the dominant
ruckman. It’s not about quantity, its about quality. And thanks to Pittonets’ dominance Carlton’s
clearances were often cleaner and far more damaging. The Blues then subsequently locked the ball
in their half and let their dominant intercepting defenders set-up their almost impenetrable wall.

The only thing you could probably fault Pittonet for is not asserting any dominance in the air, as he
took a grand total of zero marks. The conditions likely played a factor in that also.

 

The Cripps Greenwood Dilemma:

The early contest between these two in the forward pocket was hotly debated. Greenwood received
the free kick after being dragged down by Cripps but some thought that Cripps should’ve received an
earlier free for Greenwood making contact with him without eyes on the footy. For me, the answer
was a clear free kick to Greenwood. He turned to engage Cripps and then immediately turned back
to make a play on the footy, at which point Cripps infringed. Case closed.

 

Hard-headed Gibbons:

Did you people know that Gibbons loves playing AFL footy? I sure didn’t before tonight. I think also
works a trade, but that’s not important. What is important is that the man can take a hit like a
champion. In what was probably Harbrow’s only good action for the night he came in hard against
Gibbons on the forward side of a stoppage and got him sweet. I personally don’t think there is
anything for Harbrow to worry about as he went low and won the footy. Gibbons was simply doing
the same and just didn’t have the momentum behind him.

However, the best part was when Gibbons subsequently came off the ground and the coverage showed him talking to the doctor and clearly trying to tell him that he was fine and there was nothing to worry about it. Only for the doctor to check the vision and then take Gibbons down for a concussion test.

I know concussion is a very serious subject but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the light-hearted attitude of a guy who wants to stay out on the field when he feels fine. Gibbons of course, passed the concussion test.

 

The Secondary Suns:

Given that King was shutdown and there was no real genuine second key forward, I was quite
impressed with Ainsworth and Holman’s efforts. Often asked to be the hit-up target for the Suns
going forward, both worked incredibly hard. Not only with their attacking moves but also their
defensive accountability, particularly Holman. Here’s hoping the Suns can get past these injury
woes so that these two can play roles more akin to their attributes.

 

The Wrapped Stuff:

 

Gold Coast:

Another honourable and hard-fought loss for the Suns. This one will hurt more as it was at home and
against an opposition arguably not in as good of form as their other opponents. Still, they will need
to lick their wounds quickly (And I mean that as they have a few injuries coming out of this game) as
they come up against eh red-hot Bulldogs and rampaging Swans in the next two weeks. If they can
pull a win out of either of those two games, it will be huge for building this teams belief and
confidence in their ability.

 

Carlton:

Carlton will be flying home very happy. They came and did exactly what they needed to do. Not all
wins are created equal and sometimes you just have to get the job done, even if its ugly, and the
Blues did just that. They arguably dominated this game for long periods and simply pounded the
Suns into submission. It wasn’t pretty but it was effective. They will need to keep that level of
tenacity as they come against two top-four teams form 2020 in the next two weeks in Port Adelaide
and Brisbane.

 

 

 

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