The Mongrels have cast their eye over Carlton’s incredible win over Melbournein the 2023 Semi.
Here are the player ratings from that one .
Semi Final 1: Melbourne vs Carlton
 Jake Lever – 8
Set the tone early with two towering intercept marks as his side took a three-goal lead. Was mostly impenetrable when attacking the ball, but found himself caught between May and Tomlinson on a couple of occasions where no one went for the spoil. Six spoils, six intercept marks from eight in total, and a dazzling sidestep that saw him find his skipper for a shot on goal inside F50 were his highlights.
 Adam Tomlinson – 5
The maligned former Giant was just ok in this game, brought back in place of the retiring Hibberd. Started shakily with rushed disposal leading to a poor efficiency of just 61% from his 13 touches, and an ugly and unnecessary push out gifting TDK his second goal, and the blues the ascendency. Never stopped trying.
 Jake Bowey – 4
Burst onto the scene in the famous 2021 season, but has failed to refind that impact in the seasons since. Slightly down on disposals with 12, but a lower than expected efficiency of 75% coupled with only 60% of his average metres gained limited his best offensive features. A poor effort to attack the ball that allowed Motlop to score deep in the final term will be his lasting memory of 2023.
 Judd McVee – 5
The first year player has been a revelation in defence, playing his role without fuss all season, for the most part that was true again in front of a massive 96k baying fans. Collected 13 touches, and kept his opponents relatively quiet, but will have ongoing nightmares about his failure to make body contact with Docherty in that final scoring chain that led to Acres’ matchwinner.
 Steven May – 9
The Demon All Australian was imperious in defence, blunting the force of nature that is Charlie Curnow repeatedly winning or halving all six contested defensive one on ones. Led his team in one percenters (10), spoils (7), intercept possessions (10), contested marks (3), and was 25% above average disposals with 21. Although risky to release Curnow, Goodwin will regret not freeing up May to play more offensively when the game needed to be won.
 Christian Salem – 6
A solid outing for Salem, but is still lacking the driving disposal penetration of his AA best. 22 touches and just under 300m gained, along with 17 pressure acts, the fourth best for the Dees, another who the John Kennedy mantra, ‘it’s later than you think’ should be front and centre in his off-season planning.
 Lachie Hunter – 8
Alongside May, probably the best Demon on the night. Worked tirelessly on his wing, accumulating 25 touches (6,2,9,8 quarter by quarter split), setting up numerous forward thrusts and attempting and hitting some outrageous angles to open the play. Showed his work ethic, just touching a long Curnow shot on goal to keep his team on top at that stage in the last term.
 Clayton Oliver – 7
The Demon superstar has endured a horror year with an extended stint on the sidelines with complications from a hamstring strain. As a result he’s never reached the heights of years gone by when he is a perpetual Brownlow fancy. Recording equal team high clearances of 15 game-high tackles of nine and six clearances, he was as combative as ever, but wasn’t able to elevate himself above his Carlton midfield counterparts to drag his team over the line as he has so often throughout his still young career.
 Ed Langdon – 6
It was a Jekyll & Hyde performance from Langdon, whose hard running was influential, particularly early as he ran onto the ball to score the opening goal. A late intercept from Saad where he left his opponent, diving for a mark and immediate handball setting up a scoring opportunity for Fritsch, would’ve been pivotal if the game ended one minute earlier. His kicking was typically shaky, and two skewed kicks went out on the full, releasing the pressure on an inexperienced Blues outfit.
 James Jordon – 3
Why isn’t his surname spelled with an ‘A’ rather than the ‘O’? Apologies, but that’s about as interesting as I can make my assessment of James’ game, forty percent of his 10 possessions results in scores, so that’s something to note.
 Bayley Fritsch – 6
One of the Demons main avenues to score, Fritsch played his part with five shots on goal and eight score involvements. Looked most dangerous in the third term when he drifted further afield to half forward, impacting with contested marks and driving the ball deep I50. Marked down slightly with his conversion, 2.3 symptomatic of Melbourne’s woes in front of goal this September campaign.
 Christian Petracca – 7
A consistent four-quarter performer, but Trac didn’t reach the heights he has regularly through 2023 that may see him crowned the Brownlow medalist on Monday week. A scintillating goal in the first term after playing on from a mark deep in the pocket was a thing of beauty, and his bollocking clearance game delivered a team high 524m gained. Instructively though his I50 numbers were up on average, but score involvements well down, highlighting a poor disposal efficiency.
 Tom Sparrow – 7
The young South Australian was prominent with almost double his season average for metres gained, as he was one of the few Demons who consistently took the game on under immense Carlton pressure.
 Tom McDonald – 1
Time waits for no man could be the epitaph on McDonald’s fading AFL career, one that was good enough to record fifty goals in a season and culminate in a premiership medal, but based on the end of 2023, it’ll be tough to regain anything approaching his best. Nominally the second ruckman to provide Captain Gawn with a break, McDonald recorded just one hit out from ten ruck contests, no shots on goal and only two score involvements from six touches as he was roundly smashed by Weitering.
 Alex Neal-Bullen – 6
This was an almost game from ANB, who kicked a spectacular goal out of congestion only for it to be (rightly) reversed by the ARC in the second term. 18 touches, a huge 26 pressure acts, four tackles and five I50 can have him hold his head high, was involved all game, just not able to make that critical play that might’ve flipped the script.
 Max Gawn – 6
The inspirational skipper was under an injury cloud, and despite his best efforts wasn’t able to replicate his heroics from the Qualifying Final. Effectively being tagged by Pittonet, Gawn resorted to more of a bombastic approach to hit outs, recalling Clark Keating’s smash it forward at all costs from the early 2000’s rather than the subtle art of tapwork usually employed to maximise his star onballers. Two bad misses on goal brought his score down as he was still clearly the best ruck on the park, in a close match – those matter more than usual.
 Jack Viney – 7
Led his team with 31 disposals and seven clearances, but it felt like his seven turnovers all occurred at critical junctures sucking the momentum away from his side in a game that was close on the scoreboard all night. That does a mild disservice to his passion and heart in continuing to put his head over the ball and physically impose himself, was just bested by some exceptional performances by the Blues on the night.
 Kysaiah Pickett – 5
Phew, what a rollercoaster. On the balance of good vs bad, Kosi is probably lucky to end up with a five, but that is more for him being the number one offensive threat, as two goals three behinds and a game high eleven score involvements highlight. Two goals assists as well to set up Fritsch the first after a brilliant gather at pace, but the bad, oh boy this is a long list. An ego driven reversal in the first term, two 50m penalties, and two other incidents that will catch the eye of the MRO. In a game decided by less than one straight kick, each of those examples can obtain you villain status – Pickett plays on the edge, but needs to find a better balance to benefit his team.
 Charlie Spargo – 6
After playing every game during the 21/22 seasons, Spargo found himself out of favour, appearing as sub or subbed three times, and even more often at Casey Fields. His return to the side for this cutthroat clash was reminiscent of his lively best, winning the ball in close, making good decisions and tackling with intensity. Alas he couldn’t get off the hook often enough to impact the scoreboard, but a good game.
 Trent Rivers – 6
The Demon halfback was noticeable with his physical attack on the ball and player, and repeated efforts, best exemplified by a passage in the fourth term where he halved three contests in a row. 17 possessions, 10 of those contested, and nine intercepts showed nothing was easy for him, but his effort was admirable in ultimate defeat.
 Joel Smith – 7
Couldn’t sustain the rage once Weitering moved to quell his aerial dominance, but three goals straight from a scoreline of 9.17 elevates your rating. Probably would have had a fourth after a sensational contest mark in the first term, but Pickett decided to throw his weight around punching McGovern in the mouth and the ball was turned over. Very efficient, and one of the shining lights in a dismal Melbourne forward line.
 Kade Chandler – 4
A nondescript game from Chandler who was involved in three scoring chains from his nine touches, but unable to break free of the disciplined Blues defence.
[SUB – 19] Josh Schache – N/A
The selection of Schache was bewildering before the game, and even moreso in the washup as he never ever removed his warm up top. Obviously Goodwin and his team had grave concerns over the makeshift forward lines ability to kick a winning score, but then they got gunshy in the heat of a knife’s edge battle. Could have replaced McDonald, or even in a hail mary, been pushed back allowing May to roam forward.
Carlton (Tim H)
 Brodie Kemp – 5
Like many tall defenders, Kemp had a few important moments, but none that appeared to be as impactful as when he was shooting for goal from the boundary line, just inside 50, late in the last quarter. The shot missed everything, and for a short time seemed like it might be the final chance that the Blues could have had to win the game. Fortunately it wasn’t. Outside of that, Kemp’s game was inconspicuous, but certainly helped take pressure off Weitering.
 Jacob Weitering – 8
The star of Carlton’s defence, Weitering lived up to that moniker tonight, shifting between the most dangerous Demon talls, and finishing the night by completely nullifying the impact of Joel Smith. Took the all important intercept mark to start the last chain of possessions that lead to the Acres goal.
 Nic Newman – 9
Used his dangerous left boot to full effect tonight, finishing with 30 possessions, five score involvements and one goal assist. If it wasn’t for a superhuman effort from Sam Walsh, he would have been jockeying for his team’s best performance.
 Alex Cincotta – 4
A relatively ineffectual game from the mature-age rookie. Only managed eight touches for the game, and was part of a few Blues defenders who were unable to thwart consistent Demon advances in the first and third quarters.
 Mitch McGovern – 7
I thought this was a very good game from McGovern. He finished with 20 touches, and had nine intercept possessions and was able to stop a few important Demon forward thrusts.
 Adam Saad – 7
Played an impressive game, without being truly impactful. He finished with 24 touches, six rebound-50s and five intercept possessions, often sweeping across half-back and helping to form a chain of possessions leading to goal.
 Blake Acres – 8
If he does nothing else in his career, he will at least be able to say that he kicked the goal that put the Blues into their first Preliminary Final since 2000. Aside from that, he also played a pretty good game of footy, finishing with 17 touches and two goals. The severity of his shoulder will have a serious impact on the depth of the Blues finals’ run.
 Patrick Cripps – 8
He wasn’t the best player on the ground tonight (that was a title comfortably bestowed to his teammate, Sam Walsh), but just proved himself to be the type of player and leader that any honest football fan would follow into battle. He seems to be the type of leader who makes running through brick walls seem as simple as slicing a knife through butter.
 Matthew Cottrell – 4
A very hard runner who works hard enough to get involved in as many plays as he possibly can, Cottrell finished with 11 touches but five score involvements – a pretty impressive strike rate, if one must say, without being as prominent as last week.
 Sam Docherty – 7
Battled what looked to be a horrible dislocated shoulder injury late in the second quarter. As he has shown throughout his career, he continued fighting, refusing to relent while his team still had a chance at advancing. He finished with 19 touches, six score involvements and two goal assists, including an assist in the all important final goal from Acres.
 Tom De Koning – 8
Played a first half that many Carlton supporters will remember for a long time. His second half was less memorable, but he still played an important role. His effort against Max Gawn was highly impactful, helping to limit the game’s best ruckman. Scored his team’s first two goals, kick starting their period of dominance that ultimately was just enough.
 Matthew Owies – 3
Were it not for a goal early in the last quarter, I wondered if Owies would be the player to have been substituted tonight. As it were, his goal was very important, but his game as a small forward (whose job should be to exist no less than 10m in front of Charlie Curnow) left a fair bit to be desired.
 Lachie Fogarty – 4
Like a lot of high half-forwards in the modern game, Fogarty’s role was a bit hit-and-miss. He finished the game with 14 touches and four tackles and was high energy for most of the match.
 Charlie Curnow – 5
A tough night for the Coleman Medal winner, essentially playing opposed to two or three opponents at every contest. Was able to have enough impact on the game by kicking a goal, but ultimately had his colours lowered by Steven May.
 Jesse Motlop – 7
A very impactful game. Like many small forwards, he’s a man for the moments, and in key moments tonight he was super important. A couple of goals in a game that was decided by less than a straight kick is indicative of the role he played.
 Marc Pittonet – 7
Battled manfully against a ruckman that many (except this writer) would regard as the best in the business. Forced Gawn to remain honest all night, and in tandem with De Koning, ultimately proved too difficult.
 Adam Cerra – 8
He played a huge first half that set the tone for his teammates. Was a bit slower in the second half, but still played a really important role and has the type of game built for finals footy.
 Sam Walsh – 10
Was pretty comfortably the best player on the ground tonight. Kicked the classic midfielder goal early in the last quarter (bursting clear of the centre circle), but ultimately that was just a footnote of what was a truly stunning game from one of the league’s best midfielders. 34 touches, two goals, eight tackles, six inside-50s and a stunning 43 pressure acts (some 15 more than the next best on the ground) would be a phenomenal stat line for round two, let alone a semi-final.
 Caleb Marchbank – 7
Like Kemp, Marchbank plays an important role in the Carlton defence, ostensibly taking the pressure off Weitering. He was better than Kemp tonight, finishing with seven intercept possessions, including two telling marks.
 George Hewett – 7
Plays a really important role as the defensive minded midfielder surrounded by Walsh, Cerra and Cripps. Appeared to be playing a role trying to curb the impact of Oliver tonight, and I thought he did a pretty good job.
 David Cuningham – 5
Was subbed out early in the last quarter, making way for young wingman Oliver Hollands. I honestly thought he was doing a decent job (and I wonder if the goal from Owies at the start of the last quarter played a role in the decision to sub Cuningham), and nine touches and four tackles from a high half-forward is a decent return.
 Matthew Kennedy – 4
Kicked an important goal at the start of the third quarter, but was otherwise a bit disappointing. Had the role on Jake Lever and was soundly beaten. Still has an important role to play in the Blues finals run this year.
[Sub – 14] Oliver Hollands – 7
Came into the game early in the last quarter and seemed to initially be having a nightmare, as his first kick was smothered. His third kick would more than make up for it, finding Docherty at half forward before his kick found Acres. Acres’s goal put the Blues in front with less than a minute left, and the rest, as they say, is history.