The Dogs did what many expected them to do, and beat the Blues at Etihad Stadium, sending Carlton to their worst start in the club’s history.
Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.
The Bont and Patrick Cripps
Whilst I am sure supporters of both teams had many aspects they were looking forward to in this game, for the casual fan, the Bont v Cripps battle was where it was at. And if you haven't had it forced down your throat enough by the Channel 7 commentators, keep reading.
Bontempelli hit 30 touches for the first time this season and really should’ve finished with a couple of goals, missing two shots within 25 metres in the third quarter.
Cripps was a machine, and he kept working until the final moments. He amassed 32 touches (24 contested) and also had nine tackles.
So, if forced to choose, who do you give the chocolates to? Well, let’s look at it like a prize fight.
The first quarter went to Cripps. He had his ten touches and was the dominant player on the ground. Bont rebounded well in the second with 11 touches of his own. At the half way point, the warriors had dished out, and copped equal amounts of punishment.
The third saw them fight to a draw. Bont should’ve gone for the knockout at this point, as he was in the position to kick two goals. Instead, he had two behinds, which dragged him down. I scored them even in the third.
Then we had the last quarter clash. The Blues almost got back into it, behind Cripps. He powered on to have 11 touches in the quarter to Bont’s six. On points, it was Cripps’ night, individually.
The Bulldogs got the win, but Cripps was the man out there. When he wanted the ball, he got it. He is the epitome of “see ball, get ball”. If only he could get on the end of a few strings of handballs instead of being the guy to start them.
Tom Boyd’s start
Clunk and clunk! Two big marks early on to Boyd signalled that maybe the big fella had put his issues behind him as best as he could.
He drifted out of the game, and he should’ve finished with three goals instead of the one he did, but to see Tom Boyd out there, competing hard and taking a couple of pack marks, would warm the hearts of Dogs’ fans.
This is the guy that has started to deliver on the promise he showed as a youngster.
The Dogs looked like they had a wealth of riches in the midfield at one point. They were premiers, and they had Bont, Macrae, Wallis and Libba all coming through to replace guys who were coming to the end of the their careers.
But what a hole a guy like Matty Boyd leaves. Macrae is doing his best to fill the void left by Boyd – nice poetry by me, there.
He gets his hands on it regularly and is running as well as he ever has. With Mitch Wallis looking fitter, and Macrae accumulating touches, the Dogs once again have the makings of a good midfield.
Aaron Naughton v Charlie Curnow
Charlie would really like to have the shot at goal he missed in the last quarter over again. It was an absolute shank, but the real thorn in his side was Aaron Naughton tonight.
Curnow finished with impressive stats, including 11 marks to go along with his 19 touches, but Naughton was far from disgraced. He finished with 13 touches, but managed to get the better of Curnow in a couple of crucial one-on-ones.
He caught Charlie holding the ball on a couple of occasions and looked a lot more comfortable the further Curnow moved away from goal. He did get nutmegged by Matt Suckling at one point. Curnow had the potential to be a match winner for the Blues, but that missed shot in the last quarter was incredibly costly.
Lack of communication between Blues defenders
It happened twice tonight. And twice it led to Bulldog goals.
In the second quarter, Sam Row and Liam Jones both flew for the same mark. Neither took it. Instead, the ball was quickly hacked away. As happens when teams hack the ball these days, it came straight back in, and Bailey Dale marked 20 metres out to goal.
The second one was worse. Again involving Jones, this time it was him and Caleb Marchbank that failed to communicate, both guys flying for the same mark. The ball came out to Billy Gowers, who snapped a goal.
On replay, you can clearly see Jones with his eyes on the ball, but unless he’s a ventriloquist, you don’t see him call his teammates out. I’m guessing Marchbank did the same. Someone in that backline needs to start the chatter or the Blues are going to gift a lot of goals thanks to their wonderful spoiling efforts… on each other.
Up until tonight, the Blues had NEVER been 0-6. They’re setting records for all the wrong reasons.
I can remember when Carlton supporters were arrogant. They’d never won a wooden spoon! They’d won the most flags! They did not accept mediocrity! But they do now, and it is sad.
It’s hard to watch them sleepwalk through quarters when they are capable of good, hard, contested footy, as displayed in the last. The skills might fall down, but the will should not waver.
Billy Gowers decided to play on
OK Billy, what were you thinking? You marked at 40-45 metres out. You had Sam Rowe bearing down on you at top speed, and you decide to take a couple of ambling steps and casually slot it through?
No, no, no…
Rowe crunched Gowers in a tackle and won the ball for the Blues. The Dogs then managed to give away consecutive 50 metre penalties, which saw Rowe go from half back to half forward. His shot at goal missed, but that was a string of monumental errors from the Dogs. Had the Blues goaled at that point, it may have switched the momentum.
Too many passengers
Look, I understand that Carlton are putting time into the kids, but at half time there were 9 players who’d had five disposals or less. Seven of them were Blues.
Some of these players are not yet up to the speed of the AFL game. Mullett, Plowman and Silvagni do nowhere near enough. Plowman was the number three pick in 2012. Mullett had eight touches and couldn’t get near it in a contest. Silvagni… he worked hard, but there is a nothingness about his game that makes me wonder what he’ll actually be excellent at? You can’t just be an honest try-er at this level. That’s what the VFL is for.
But that’s another problem – who do they bring in to replace them? Sorry Carlton fans – there’s not much else you can do to improve.
Levi Casboult started well again, and even looked good whenever he rucked against Tim English. He was far too strong for English at any stoppage and this was an area the Blues probably could’ve exploited a little more.
Carlton had no right being that close in the last quarter. The Bulldogs should've put them away in the third, and it is a bit of an indictment on them that Carlton still had a legitimate shot at winning the game inside the last 15 minutes. When you've got the foot on a team's throat, you need to step down with all the pressure you can muster.
Loved Charlie Curnow’s pressure inside fifty to set up Casboult’s first goal. Matty wright may have gave the handball, but it was the pair of tackles from Curnow that made it all possible.
Not at all sold on the Bailey Williams tackle on Zac Fisher being dangerous. Awkward – yes, because Fisher was half-backing into Williams, and trying to get a kick away. To hold him up, Williams would’ve been doing Fisher a favour. You don’t do people favours in that situation.
Kade Simpson finished with 20 touches, but it was the least influence I’ve seen him have with that many touches.
I liked the way Lachie Hunter made space tonight. He didn’t exactly get in and under much, but he was an important link man for the Bulldogs.
Lin Jong didn’t make the distance from 40 metres after picking up a 50 metre penalty against Liam Jones. Even I can kick 40 metres (just). Work on it!
Pretty brutal ball to the face on Lin Jong. Right in the mouth!
I see Daisy Thomas has adopted the Selwood shrug? Worked in his contest against Suckling.
It was the little things that seemed to bring Carlton undone. All it took was a handball being behind a running player to completely stop the Blues in their tracks. Most apparent one came from Cam O’Shea, missing Paddy Dow and stopping Carlton’s run.
How many weeks in a row is it that commentators have mentioned how tall Patrick Cripps is?
Any Seinfeld fans reading? You think we’ll be seeing more from the Lipinski file than George had in the Penski file?
Matty Suckling’s pass to Tom Boyd in the third quarter was absolutely perfect. It was a bit of an up and down night for Suckling’s kicking, but this one was a ripper.
It looked as though Gowers was going to play on again after being caught five minutes before. He is quite adept at making space over the back and working back into it. This time, he managed to give the ball to Bont for one of his two horrid misses.
The goal post probably deserves a vote tonight. Was involved in plenty of scores.
Loved seeing Mitch Wallis in at stoppages. While most of the attention was on Bont and Cripps, I thought he was very good at creating chaos at bounces.
Quieter day for Toby McLean today, but I thought he used it well when he got it.
It was Suckling again hitting Bont 20 metres out with a beautiful kick. Again Bont could not convert.
Pretty pleased that Caleb Daniel didn’t cop a whack to the head after breaking his helmet. That would’ve been unfortunate.
Matt Kennedy had a good last quarter, but has done nowhere near enough this season. Yes, he has been injured, but he was key to the Carlton revival that we’re expecting… any… time… now.
Jason Johanissen stepped up his game late. He used his pace a couple of times to intercept and disrupt the Blues, including the sealer.
Overall, I think we got what we expected tonight. The game seemed to move a little slower than normal at times, as though it lacked intensity at points, but The Dogs’ inaccuracy really allowed Carlton to hang around.