The Blues were gallant after a tough week of scrutiny coming off a huge defeat to lowly North Melbourne down in Hobart. A West Coast side not known for their form on the MCG managed to show a fraction more class and poise to hold off the Blues for three quarters, before a late burst prior to three quarter time saw the Eagles finish far superior and take home the four points.
For Blues fans, the form of first round draft picks Paddy Dow and Lachie O’Brien was something positive to take away.
Here’s the Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.
A noted struggler on the MCG. LeCras’ two third quarter goals turned the game on its head. Showing poise and class to outpoint Dale Thomas in unfamiliar territory. LeCras stood up at a time when the Eagles needed him.
Sam Rowe’s entire AFL career has been one of persistence. Having been delisted by the Swans without a single game, he then went on to fight off testicular cancer to forge a position down back with the Blues before suffering a season ending ACL injury last year.
Having seen Alex Silvagni and Liam Jones present their cases for his spot, Rowe fought back and in his first game back to senior footy, held former Coleman Medalist, Josh Kennedy to just the one goal, whilst adding some much needed poise and experience to a makeshift Blues backline.
The Kids Are Alright
Paddy Dow racked up 14 touches, Lachie O’Brien with 15 and Harry McKay kicked 4 whilst clunking 8 marks in conditions that do not suit the clean hands required to do so. Despite the arctic conditions and the poor result, you’d feel like it was worth the trip to the MCG today if you were a Blues fan.
The Herald Sun ran with the back page headline that Andrew Gaff headed a Carlton wishlist of free agents to be targeted at seasons’ end. With 28 touches and 2 goals, Gaff looked a class above with his accuracy and finishing, and quite frankly, worth every cent on the open market.
How long can Cripps continue to do it all by himself? 19 contested touches, 8 clearances in 34 possessions for the acting captain, and quite possibly the 3 votes in a losing side. Cripps continues to wear the brunt of physical attention from opposition sides week in week out with minimal to no support from his teammates. He looked frustrated throughout the clash with North Melbourne, and similar frustrations started to show late in the game today also. Needs help. The bloke above might be the guy to provide it.
Tinfoil Hat Eagles Fans
Plenty of Eagles fans went berserk on social media, venting their frustration at the perceived bias of Collingwood President, Eddie McGuire and former Hawthorn champion, Dermott Brereton toward Carlton, and not giving the Eagles the respect they felt deserved. Potentially due to the Eagles’ significant membership numbers and wealth being greater than Collingwood and Hawthorn
Quite simply, no-one in Melbourne cares about Western Australia 1/10th as much as what Western Australians and their one sided rivalry with Victoria do.
Red-Time Footy The Difference
Across all four quarters, the Eagles scored 8.6 to Carlton’s 2.1 in time-on. A glass half full view of this says its a clear reflection of a younger Carlton side tiring late in the wet conditions, and a more seasoned West Coast outfit taking full advantage. A more cynical viewpoint is to question whether the wet weather was best suited to taking in all 3 of Levi Casboult, Harry McKay and Andrew Phillips? And if so, were the Blues pressured into picking McKay after the week’s media scrutiny on this topic?
The Retread Blues
With Sam Docherty, Caleb Marchbank, Ciaran Byrne and Jacob Weitering missing from the first choice Blues defence, Brendan Bolton was forced to again persist with off-season recruits, Cam O’Shea and Aaron Mullet, delisted from Port Adelaide in 2016 and North Melbourne respectively. O’Shea’s start to life in navy blue continues to be one he’d rather forget.
A star with the Northern Blues last season at VFL level, O’Shea has struggled to return to the pace of AFL level, turning the ball over and being caught holding the ball in dangerous Eagles territory on several occasions. He returned a Win/Loss record of 1-1 in head clashes, faring better after a clash of heads with Jack Darling early in the game, causing the Eagle forward to be off the ground for a quarter, before running into his own teammate, Lachie O’Brien and spending the rest of the game on the bench being tested for concussion. Whilst Mullet has provided the Blues with plenty of run and carry, questions remain on his ability to find the footy and use it responsibly.