Brisbane v Carlton – Mongrel Talking Points

It will be interesting to see how the final result of this game impacts these teams down the stretch.

With a 57-point three-quarter time lead, the game appeared safe for the Lions. They had thoroughly outplayed the Blues for the whole game to that point, sans a five-minute period in the second quarter and a percentage boost looked likely.

On the flip side, Carlton were looking anything but the potential top-four team they did at one stage this season, with just four goals to their name through the first three quarters.

What happened from there was quite extraordinary

The Lions played like a team that did indeed believe the game was in the bag, and look, it turns out they were right, but in the process, they allowed Carlton to get back inside three goals and threaten to pinch this contest before kicking a couple of goals late to once again push the margin out beyond five goals.

The Lions were led by the irrepressible Lachie Neale, who stood up late in the game and righted the ship, Harris Andrews, who wore Harry McKay like a glove, and Zac Bailey, who was coughing up blood a week ago as they ran out 33-point winners.

Should it have been more? Did the Lions almost blow this one? What do we take away from this game for both clubs? Is Patrick Cripps in trouble? Let’s explore with The Mongrel’s Talking Points.

 

THE EARLY TONE

Here’s an interesting stat from the expert statistical analysis of the old Mongrel…

The heat was on in the first quarter, and it was reflected in the holding-the-ball decisions paid by the umpires. Four free kicks were awarded in the first stanza for incorrect disposal or holding the ball and all were in favour of the Lions. They came out with a purpose and gave the Blues no room to move.

Whilst Walsh worked hard (despite being caught HTB twice… which is becoming common over the last month), the majority of the Blues were just not up for the fight, with the Lions winning the tackle count 20-15 as they piled on the pressure.

Players like Rhys Mathieson have made a huge difference to the Brisbane midfield. I know you guys call him Beast Mode and that’s lovely… I am sure he enjoys it – I liken him more to a junkyard dog – he will fight and claw for every scrap of footy he gets, and if you wander into his yard, he makes you pay.

Add in blokes like Starcevich, Lyons, and McCarthy all cracking in and making the Blues look over their shoulder every time they touched the footy, and you have a team that was clearly on the same page to start this game.

 

THE CRIPPS HIT

Well, I will preface this by stating that there was a time, not too long ago, when this would have been considered a completely fair hit. The ball was there to be contested and Cripps woupd have had every right to go hard after it.

But those times are gone and when a player leaves his feet these days and makes head-high contact, everyone except the three field umpires seem to think it warrants a suspension. And it most likely will. They didn’t even think it warranted a free kick, which was just completely bewildering.

At this point of the game, the Lions were in complete control and looked as though they were preparing to put the Blues to the sword. As mentioned above, they had been ferocious at both the ball and the opposition player with it, but in this moment, Cripps made a physical statement and knocked Callum Ah Chee into next week in the process.

For the next few minutes, the Blues started to find their feet and kicked the next three snags of the game to place some doubt in the minds of Brisbane. Cripps’ hit on Ah Chee was the catalyst for that mini-revival.

It must have been galling for Lions fans to see Cripps receive a pretty soft free kick just eight metres out from goal for high contact knowing that he had just flattened one of their players without any consequence, but the fact remains that in a game that is quite a sanitised product, the hard hit from Cripps changed the game… even just a little while.

In terms of consequences after the fact, it will be difficult for Cripps to be available to play next week if the league is serious about protecting the head, regardless of the Channel Seven defence team thinks. I hate the ambiguity of it all, but my guess is that Carlton’s representatives will say it was a complete accident as Cripps contested the footy… only, he tucked up and crashed straight into Ah Chee’s head.

So, it seems that social media has already drawn and quartered Cripps for his hit and whilst I think he will have a couple of weeks off as a result, it would not surprise me for a particularly adept QC to present a compelling case that this was an accidental collision and talk the gradings down to see him get a week. I mean, the impact would have to be severe, given Ah Chee was down for so long and immediately subbed out of the game, right? Or was it the impact with the ground that caused the concussion?

Players have received weeks for hits a lot less severe than this in 2022. It will be interesting to see what the MRO come back with. They’re harder to pick than a broken nose, at times.

 

THE GAME BREAKER

Coming into this season, I felt that Zac Bailey may have been on the verge of becoming a genuine game-breaker in the league. At 22, it may seem a little harsh, but things were at the point where I thought Brisbane needed him to make the step into true A-Grade territory to make them a great team.

And he has definitely made that step this season.

It’s hard to fathom that this bloke was in the hospital a week ago after coughing up blood during the game against the Tigers. Hoping for the best but expecting the worst, they kept him in hospital overnight and it did not bode well for him suiting up this week.

Not only did he don the Lions guernsey, he put on a scintillating display in front of goal, slotting four majors as he danced through traffic like Barishnikov… or that dude from Breakdance Two – Electric Boogaloo to punish the Blues.

He added two direct goal assists to his evening to make him the player offering the most bang for his buck on the field. Three votes?

Mmmmmaybe. That Lachie Neale fella was huge when it counted.

 

STEPPING UP

The Blues were coming… you could smell it (okay, that was bad, but I wasn’t part of their PR team back in the day, I swear it!).

Closing to within 15-points with plenty of time on the clock, Lachie Neale took matters into his own hands. And those hands were pretty bloody sure with the footy in them when it mattered.

His extractions out of the middle gave the Lions important territory. His last quarter stats read like a dream scenario for an inside mid – 11 touches, four centre clearances, and seven contested possessions helped guide the Lions home.

Cometh the moment, cometh the man.

 

THE PERFECT OPPONENT FOR HARRY MCKAY

I’ve been pretty worried about the form of Harris Andrews at times this season – he looks a lot less mobile than he has for the past few seasons and is nowhere near the player he was below his knees. It seems strange to say that, as he is still just 25 years old – people forget that – but he has really looked to be on rails at times when I’ve watched him.

Luckily, he was perfectly matched up against another player who likes to operate in straight lines, and that played directly into his hands.

Harry McKay is the reigning Coleman Medallist, and though he has been surpassed in terms of snags this season by his own teammate, he remains the best marking option the Blues have and is often targeted as their “Get out of Jail” target as Carlton move the footy from defence into attack. But in this one, he was foiled way too often by the timely fist and great positioning of Harris Andrews.

The dual All-Australian fullback handled McKay well, forcing him up the ground and closing on him quickly whenever the ball held up in the delivery. Two of McKay’s six marks came outside 50, indicating that he was forced further out than he would have liked against Andrews, and whilst the majority of the plaudits will go to Lachie Neale and Zac Bailey for their efforts in this game, the defence of Andrews should not be discounted – it was excellent.

 

LAST DANCE WITH PADDY DOW?

When I saw Dow included in this game, I had one thought – Carlton were trying to “fatten him up” for trade.

I’m not sure that worked.

Sure, Carlton were missing George Hewett (his back injury is a real concern given the amount of time he missed with a similar injury at Sydney), and Matt Kennedy, but if people thought this was the opportunity for Dow to strut his stuff, they’d be very disappointed in the return.

Paddy Dow continues to struggle at the senior level, making mistakes, turnovers, and being consistently beaten in contests whenever there is some physicality involved. Maybe he could play on a wing and take him right out of harm’s way?

The Blues used Pick Three on him back in 2017. With players like Walsh, Cripps, Kennedy, Walsh, Cerra, and Hewett in front of him, perhaps it is time Paddy was given the opportunity to find his place somewhere else? Maybe he can be the next player to break out after landing in a different environment?

He was beaten in a body-to-body clash with Charlie Cameron at one stage in a pivotal contest – these are the types of clashes Dow should be winning by now, and he should be putting blokes like Cameron on his arse in the process.

He finished this game with 13 touches and only seven of them hit the mark. He managed one tackle and his pressure acts totalled just nine. If the Blues were looking at fattening him up, they might wanna try again. This week, I reckon Dow lost trade value.

 

JOE DANIHER IS NOT DOING ENOUGH

I should be singing the praises of Jacob Weitering in this section, as he was every bit as dominant in his duel with Joe Daniher as Harris Andrews was in his clash with Harry McKay, but given the Lions won, I am focusing on Daniher.

Joe is far too easily taken out of the game at the moment. After slotting three first-quarter goals against Richmond, a determined Robbie Tarrant put the clamps on Joe and he simply drifted out of the game. But at least he had a good first quarter!

He didn’t have anything to hang his hat on in this encounter, beaten by Jacob Weitering from siren to siren.

Whilst Charlie Cameron, Daniel McStay, and Eric Hipwood made the play inside 50, Daniher managed seven touches – none of them came in the position where he could do any damage. Yep, every one of his touches came outside 50 and that was usually because Weitering dropped off him and realised he wasn’t going to do much harm.

Look, when Joe is up and about, he is genuinely exciting to watch, but there comes a time that he has to do some hard yards when the spectacular stuff isn’t just happening. If the Lions are going to go far in September, it cannot be with their biggest and baddest key forward playing like a damn passenger.

Daniher was brought into the Lions to help them win a flag. Given how easily he seems to be taken out of his game at the moment, he is looking more likely to cost them one. I hope I am wrong, but we need to see less sizzle and more steak from Joe before September.

 

EVERYONE LOVES THE BIG O

Am I right ladies? I wouldn’t know…

Just kidding… I go okay.

Tom De Koning will be a very good ruckman, but he was given a bit of a bath by Oscar McInerney in this game. The Big O was simply… well, he was just too big for De Koning, who was pushed out of the contest too easily at times and didn’t seem to have an idea how to work around McInerney’s size.

The Big O picked up eight clearances among his 19 disposals and added 37 hit outs to his totals, rounding out an excellent game from the big bloke.

De Koning will have his day, but to paraphrase Aragon, it was not this day. This day was all about The Big O… and that always makes us happy.

 

QUICK BITS

 

It looked as though the umps forgot for a little while that ruckmen taking clean possession from a stoppage is not considered prior opportunity. Luckily a free kick to Carlton against the Big O was rapidly evened up with a free against TDK in the second quarter, and from that point on, things went back to normal.

Dunno what Charlie Cameron was thinking in the last quarter, but with the Blues pressing and time becoming a factor, when you take a grab inside 50, it is time to milk 30 seconds off the clock and take your set shot. Instead, Charlie tried to go inside quickly and it was broken up.

Keidean Coleman doesn’t run – he glides.

You can tell why the Lions love getting the footy into Dan Rich’s hands. His 60-metre pass to Charlie Cameron down the guts to set up Charlie’s first goal was just exquisite. It was like a country mile kick to set up a country roads sing-a-long.

How can you not love the relentless run of Sam Walsh? I mentioned above that he is getting caught holding the ball a little more often – I’ve counted seven times in his last three games – but that is because he is trying everything in his power to lift his team. And damn it, they need him to.

Heard a few people wrapping up the game of Mitch McGovern. For mine, he was good but not near the best fro the Blues – would have Saad, Weitering, and Walsh ahead of him, at the very least.

Big last quarter from Zac Fisher – he could be an excellent wingman, but needs to be played there all game to use his pace and tank to his advantage. Though he did slot two in the last quarter for the Blues, I much prefer him kicking inside 50 than hovering around at the feet of the talls – that job is Jack Martin’s… and on the balance of the last few years, Martin might be the player with the most talent and least production in the league.

Is the last quarter fade a worry for the Lions?

Absolutely it is. Against a better team, they may have been overrun – hell, they were against Richmond, albeit from a smaller deficit. The Lions’ defence was very leaky in the last quarter and if Carlton can play 25 minutes of footy for the whole game and challenge… things really need to tighten up at Brisbane.

 

And that’ll do me – despite the fade, this remains a very big win for the Lions, and an equally big loss for the Blues.

Could Carlton miss the finals? Far out, if they d, it will be one of the biggest collapses in recent years. Can Brisbane make top four? They’d be crazy to think they couldn’t. With the Saints and Dees on back-to-back Friday nights, they’ll be on the big stage. Might be time to shine?

 

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