How do you describe what we witnessed at Adelaide Oval as Port Adelaide ran roughshod over a Carlton team that simply gave up?
Does that do it, or do we require more vivid detail?
It was a hammering, an unrelenting second half assault that had people reaching for the record books, and it was a loss that undoubtedly secured the fate of embattled Carlton coach, David Teague.
However, as much as this game was about Carlton’s failure, you simply cannot disregard, or even begin to ignore the professional dismantling of the Blues by the Port Adelaide Football Club. With their eyes firmly set on a top two finish, and with the Western Bulldogs capitulating to the lowly Hawks earlier in the day, the Power absorbed the best Carlton could throw at them in the first quarter and responded with a withering blast of offensive football.
Speaking of offence, Carlton supporters, after years of teasing, must feel offence at the way this club phoned it in. With their club “legend” playing his 300th game, the Blues didn’t give a yelp after quarter time and were summarily disposed of by a Port unit with their eyes on a bigger prize.
This win taught us a couple of things – Port Adelaide are ravenous when they smell blood in the water. If they sense any weakness, even if you manage to hide it for a while, they are going in for the kill. The second thing is that Carlton are a soulless outfit, ready to raise the white flag as soon as things get tough.
Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and Carlton.
Have you ever heard the term “thrown to the wolves”?
That’s what we saw in this game, as the once-mighty… or once almost-mighty Charlie Curnow matched up against Aliir Aliir and the elite interceptor had a party at his expense.
It is pretty harsh to judge Curnow on his efforts given a) he is returning from such a long-term injury, and b) the ball barely went to the end he was playing after half time, so it is only prudent that we look at the first half to assess how this matchup played out.
It was a massacre.
As the halftime siren sounded, Aliir Aliir had 13 disposals to his name and a staggering nine intercept possessions. He out-muscled, out-hustled and out-positioned Curnow at every turn, giving us a clear indication of just how far the returning young Blue is off the pace at the moment.
Aliir was brilliant at simply moving Curnow out of the way to take intercept grabs, and his work at ground level was just as good. Curnow found no space that Aliir did not allow him, and whenever he moved to within goal-scoring range, Aliir blanketed him.
After a whopping 16 intercepts last week, Aliir backed it up with 14 more in this one, completely owning the defensive fifty along with Tom Jonas, who gave Eddie Betts a complete bath, and Darcy Byrne-Jones, who used this chance to run himself into some pretty good form.
Was Curnow thrown to the wolves in this game?
Nope… just to one of them – the biggest, meanest and hungriest of the lot. And he was chewed up and spat out as a result.
During the call of this game, the commentators had their hands full with naming all the Port players that upped the ante in the second quarter and made a real difference around the ground.
The usual suspects were mentioned, with Zak Butters, Connor Rozee and Travis Boak all getting a mention, but there was one bloke who I thought was integral in the Power wrestling back control of the game, and that man is Willem Drew.
Drew does things for this Port Adelaide team that no one else does at the moment. He is a defensive-minded midfielder with the ability to win his own footy whilst shutting his opponent out of the game. I took particular interest as the second quarter started that Drew moved to go head-t-head with Sam Walsh at a lot of stoppages – not all – but quite a few.
Walsh was at it again in the first quarter of this game, picking up 13 touches as he threatened to drag the Blues, kicking and screaming, it seems, into a contest with Port. But with Drew starting to make Walsh work for his touches, things started to change. Yes, Walsh still had nine touches for the quarter, but at the coalface, Drew not only matched the young star – he beat him.
Drew had six touches for the quarter – nothing to write home about, right? What if I told you that five of them were clearances?
Yep, matched up against Walsh at stoppages, Drew muscled his way to get first hands on the footy and get Port off and running.
You may join the throng in celebrating the burst in the second quarter and lauding the actions of Rozee, Butters, Duursma, Byrne-Jones, Wines and Boak, but if you leave Willem Drew out of the conversation, my friends, you weren’t really watching what happened. He was the one that hurt Carlton, and hurt them bad.
I know you guys like me to verify what I say at times, so allow me to take you back to that second quarter, and the dribble goal to Connor Rozee. Yes, Rozee kicked the major. Yes, Butters extracted the ball and hacked it inside 50, but as the commentators applauded what a great passage of play it was for Port, who was the one bloke they left out when dishing up the praise?
That’d be Willem Drew.
You don’t miss those things here at The Mongrel. We see you, Willem – the way you played in the second quarter made you pretty difficult to miss!
It seems like a while ago now that the Power played a very slow, boring style against the Saints, eking out a win by 13 points in a game that was… well, it was pretty shit to watch, if I am being honest. I am sure Port fans remember it fondly due to the four points, but as a neutral… yuck.
Of course, there was a method to that madness, right?
Yes, of course. Missing from that team were the following list of players.
That is quite a few sets of genuine wheels missing from Port, huh?
And when you look back at that Round 18 clash against the Saints and compare it to what you saw in this game, it is like day and night. In this contest, we saw a team starting to find their identity again, and realising that their identity is one that can tear a team to shreds.
Rozee was excellent, Butters back to his annoying best – ask Adam Saad, Duursma attacked the footy, Gray worked his way back in and Fantasia got to slot a few goals as well. This was the Port Adelaide mosquito fleet in full flight, and given how elusive and skilled they are, this is the version of this team that opposition clubs looked at and started sweating about earlier in the season.
Port have welcomed all those players back into the side, and this is the result – the best crew of run, carry and kick goal small-medium sized forwards in the game, and if they’re able to hit September with this group at their full capacity, there may be a blowout or two more as the finals roll on.
I know Charlie Dixon finished with four goals, and I will cover the last two of them below, but the work of Jacob Weitering was one of the genuine highlights for the Blues stemming from this game – perhaps the only one.
Weitering worked his arse off to cover Charlie, refusing to give him any space to move as he was forced to work largely in isolation against the big fella. Looking every bit the All-Australian centre half back, Weitering recorded 12 spoils as he foiled Dixon’s attempts to make a significant early impact in the game.
As a matter of fact, Dixon’s only touch in the first half came via a downfield free kick and resulted in a goal. It was the first time on the night the Carlton fullback was let down by his teammates further afield…
… but it would not be the last.
Weitering was sitting second in our Mongrel Punt Defensive Player of the Year Award prior to Round 22, and with this performance, he did his chances to pinch top spot no harm. He was one of the few that never stopped trying.
Of course, the AFL website didn’t list him as one of their best for Carlton… because they’re dicks.
THE OLD FIRM
It seems weird to call Travis Boak and Ollie Wines the old firm, but in many ways, two former captains of the club… they are!
They were at it again in this one, picking up the combined totals of 62 touches, 12 tackles and 32 contested possessions as they bullied their way through contest after contest.
In truth, neither was particularly damaging by foot, but the cleanliness of their hands under pressure (Wines, in particular) was just wonderful to see. Wines’ ability to collect the footy under constant pressure, and dish off to a teammate without the pressure impacting his balance too badly makes him a huge issue with the ball in dispute, and as we head toward September, his bullocking presence in the guts, and Boak’s ability to find the footy in close provide Port with a one-two punch that is not easily countered.
HUNG OUT TO DRY
Above I praised the work of Jacob Weitering. In terms of winners for the contest, he was Carlton’s best, but what happened in the last quarter was a damn indictment on the level of care from the Blues’ midfield, and a price was absolutely paid by Weitering as a result.
With Charlie Dixon well-held by Weitering, the ball started to come out of the centre with monotonous regularity in the last quarter. It became a procession, and their preferred target going inside 50 was always going to be Charlie Dixon. Weitering did all he could, but when there is zero defensive run, zero accountability, and zero fucks given by the Carlton mids, a combination of Geoff Southby and Stephen Silvagni would have had a hard time stopping Dixon from slotting two snags amongst the nine-goal avalanche.
Dixon competed well – he always does, but he was in the process of being well-beaten by the Carlton fullback. However, as we have seen too often from this Carlton side, they raised the white flag and left Weitering to fight his battles alone late in the game, and they should all apologise to him for such an insipid effort.
NA-NA NA-NA NA-NA NA-NA NA NA NOW… BABY GIVE IT UP
19 goals in a row.
All we needed was Anthony Hudson to start screaming “Nineteen… nineteen” as Port rained goals on the hapless Carlton side in the last 25 minutes of footy.
If you ever wanted to see a team give up on its coach, watch this last quarter again. If you ever wanted to see a team put the cue in the rack and start thinking about what they could do in their off-season, watch this last quarter again.
And if you ever wanted to see why Carlton has been a basketcase for longer than any of their supporters would care to remember, watch this quarter again.
They were insipid – a listless group of individuals that seemed content to wave goodbye to another coach as they sleepwalked through his funeral. Never has it been more apparent that a team gave absolute no shits about playing for the jumper or personal pride – they flat out threw the towel in and cut the throat of their coach in the process.
Seriously, I have mates who have had fewer sexual relationships than Carlton have had coaches since the turn of the century. In those 21 years, the Blues have had eight men controlling the on-field destiny of the club. That adds up to getting rid of one every 2.6 years.
No longevity. No ability to see something through. No vision. No faith.
If Alastair Clarkson goes to Carlton, he’d be a fool.
WERE THE BLUES RIGHT TO CARRY MARC MURPHY TO 300 GAMES?
Despite many thinking they shouldn’t, I reckon there is a degree of “sunk cost fallacy” about the 300 gamer. The Blues had already invested the time to get him into the 290s… something they were probably pretty generous to do in the first place, and by the time his form became a real issue, they were kind of committed to getting him there.
So I get why they felt obliged, and in a way, I think they did the right thing. In another way, I am not sure I would’ve gone that way.
It was evident that Murphy was playing to get to the milestone so he could receive… nothing, really, but hey, if it is important to him, then more power to him.
And less power to those who wanted to put time into kids and develop them in-game, instead of hand-feeding a bloke a farewell in a hiding.
ARE THEY RIGHT TO CONTINUE TO CARRY EDDIE BETTS?
This is a definite no, and really, based on form, he should not have been in this team at all.
Harsh? Maybe, but in the two weeks prior to this loss, Betts had totals – note, not averages – of seven disposals and one goal to his name. Compounding those numbers were just two tackles, as well. He is being dragged out on some type of morbid farewell tour like the guy from Weekend at Bernie’s and has been about as effective.
Behind him is Josh Honey and Corey Durdin – both of whom look as though they could have a future as a small forward for the Blues – a future Betts does not have. Factor in this game, Betts is averaging 5.3 disposals, 0.66 goals and 0.66 tackles per game over the last three weeks. Should not be in the team, but he is… because it is Carlton.
TOM CLUREY OR TRENT MCKENZIE?
This is basically the choice Port have to make, isn’t it?
Unless one of Aliir or Jonas cops and injury, Port will head into the finals with one of these two blokes watching from the grandstand. It’s not that bad a problem to have, really… unless you’re one of these two guys, I guess.
If you give me both these blokes at full fitness and ask me to pick one, and only one to take into a big game, I probably take McKenzie given what he can offer in terms of depth on his clearing kicks. It’s an asset not many defensive units have, and to be able to deploy it in a final and get those Port smalls darting around at the fall of the ball… it’d be tempting to feed him the footy off half back as much as possible.
IS KARL AMON ALL-AUSTRALIAN WORTHY?
As much as I would like to say yes, I think he misses out. The reasoning for this is three-fold.
Number one – he is not the best wingman in the league this season. That title belongs to Paul Seedsman at Adelaide. Settle down, Port supporters… it’s not a knock on Amon – Seedsman has been huge for the Crows.
Number two – the AFL media seem to love Hugh McCluggage, so if they’re going to put a wingman on the wing… you know, for novelty value, it will be neither of Amon or Seedsman – it’s be McCluggage.
Number three – they won’t put a wingman in the team at all. Because they just don’t do that when they can put Sam Walsh or Jack Macrae on the wing and pretend they play there.
There is a huge amount of deadwood at Carlton right now. A huge injury list, but some of those mid-lower echelon players just have not come along. Williamson, Dow, Fisher… they’d be players 25-30 on a good list at the moment.
The Blues wrap up another farce of a season when they play GWS next week. They won’t have Marc Murphy… so that’s something.
The Power get the Dogs in what should be a belter. The teams’ form this week were like polar opposites, and Port play a great brand of footy on the road. I’m hoping we get both teams at their best and Port get a ripping chance of dispelling this “can’t beat a good team” stigma they’ve obtained.
That’ll do me nicely. Great win by the Power – just a devastating blow to a team with nothing left in the tank or the heart. And Carlton… yeah, I like your sheets.
Massive thanks to our members – without you, there is no us. Let’s buckle up for the finals!