Carlton v Essendon - The Good, Bad and Ugly

The Blues finally got on the winners list and the Bombers crashed, a season with such high expectations crumbling around them.

Carlton stood up at the MCG, and beat Essendon by 13 points.

Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.

 

THE GOOD

Ed Curnow’s job on Zach Merrett

Late in the game, Merrett got to lay a hard tackle on Curnow, and you could just see that he was taking immense satisfaction in the action. Because that’s all he got all day from Curnow. If he went near the ball, Ed Curnow was there. If he tried to make space, Curnow clogged it up. If he tried to block for a teammate, Curnow would disrupt things.

Ben Jacobs has received many plaudits this year for his defensive roles, but Curnow’s efforts today were just as good, and maybe better.

Curnow had 24 touches and 13 tackles, but going forward he kicked two really important goals for the Blues. He put time and effort into his defensive work, and this was rewarded on the offensive end.

Matthew Kreuzer

This is what Blues fans were waiting to see, but it’s sad that injuries have robbed them from seeing it for so many years. Kreuzer may not have had the most hit outs in the game (Bellchambers had the better of him in the ruck contests) but the ones he did win were significant.

He had 19 contested disposals to be equal leader in the game (with Patrick Cripps) which is amazing for a man his size.

Kreuzer’s second efforts around the ground were spectacular, and set a standard that the rest of his team followed. His ability to make contest after contest and be more than just a big body to bash into people was a real highlight. With contested marks and a workrate only a few ruckmen can match, Kreuzer was brilliant today.

I would love to see him get a good run at it for the remainder of the season.

Patrick Cripps

As mentioned above, his 19 contested disposals equally led the game. When the Blues needed someone to get their hands on the ball, there was Cripps, bullying his way through traffic to take possession.

He had 27 disposals and seven tackles in a great all-round display, highlighted by his brilliant read off the pack, and his ability to grab it with clean hands and hand it off to Darcy Lang for a goal in the third quarter.

Jed Lamb on Goddard

What a first quarter from Lamb. It reminded me of his effort last season where he got under the skin of James Sicily. Lamb is a master antagonist and he was all over Goddard in the first quarter, completely taking him out of the game, whilst kicking a goal himself.

I have to admit, when I saw Goddard running around the wing and midfield in the second quarter without Lamb, I was a little disappointed. I remember what he did to Sicily, and I wanted to see him do it to Goddard as well.

The Blues defence gels

So this is the big man combination that seems to work, huh?

No Marchbank and no Weitering, but there was Sam Rowe, and there was Liam Jones.

Jones had the most spoils on the ground, and seemed to have his timing back. He zoned off when he had to and beat opponents in the air all game long. Rowe is the perfect partner in crime for Jones’ game. He doesn’t need to zone off – he is a lockdown defender. Tiger fans may have a little vomit rise into their mouths, but Rowe was the Astbury or Grimes today to Jones’ Rance-role.

 

THE BAD

Jake Stringer

I think Stringer might be the worst first quarter performer in the game at the moment. He was almost unsighted this week again in the opening term. Apparently he had one touch.

Read that again, Bomber fans – he had one touch in the first quarter. This is not the first time he has been completely inept in the first quarter. He needs to pull his finger out, stop waiting for the opportunity to do the extraordinary, and do some of the dirty work.

Not getting your hands on it, Jake? Then lay some tackles. He finished with 14 disposals and one tackle. Yep… one. This is after the emphasis on how few tackles players at Essendon are executing. Another poor game for Stringer – they’re far outweighing the good ones.

Michael Hurley

This has been coming for a while. Between he and Goddard racking up disposals across half back, Essendon supporters were pulling their hair out because NOTHING was happening when they got the ball.

Still, the Blues put a bit of work into Hurley, and seemed to work through his direct opponent whenever possible. How did Hurley respond? Meekly.

He finished with 17 disposals today, but was a non-factor. I think the last couple of weeks have almost played Hurley out of All-Australian consideration if spots were awarded now. He is being beaten one-on-one, not hitting targets and looking like a guy who really doesn’t want to be out there.

At the start of the game as the teams lined up, did he go to Charlie Curnow? Nope. Did he put his hand up to take Harry McKay? Nope again. He had Darcy Lang. And who kicked the first goal?

Might be time to throw him forward for a quarter or two, and make him earn some kicks.

Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti

I reckon I have watched three games this season where this bloke was in the worst three players on the ground. At least he laid a few tackles today – a stat that has been missing in his game, considering he is a pressure small forward.

I almost had a chuckle when I saw him thrown into the middle late in the game. He was in there, as was Sam Petrevski-Seton, both of whom hardly had a touch all day. Credit it where it’s due; both got their hands on it in those clearances, but it was too little, too late for Tippa.

His only goal was a ‘Joe the Goose’ from Fantasia in the last quarter. Here’s his season stats – 10.9 disposals, 8 goals, 3 tackles per game. Needs to do a helluva lot more.

 

 

THE UGLY

This entire Essendon season

This was their litmus test. People were asking how long it was going to be until Carlton won a game at all – that’s how bad they were traveling.

But the Blues looked across the park today and saw a team ripe for the picking. They saw a team full of small-bodied midfielders, and they licked their lips… not lasciviously, but in anticipation of how they would push them around at stoppages.

Most teams have worked the Bombers out. They struggle to win the ball in close when there are big bodies to contend with. Smith, Heppell and Merrett might get their hands on it here or there, but the person doing the dirty work just isn’t present. That was Jobe's role.

They thought Stringer might fill that role – he looks as though he has no idea what he’s doing. They threw David Myers into the middle – he is too indecisive.

The Bombers are now looking down the barrel of a miserable season. There’ll be games where they get out and run and look as though no one can stop them. People will watch and think a revival of sorts is on the cards.

They’ll be wrong. High pressure, in-close games will rip them to shreds, and any team with big bodies will hurt them, over and over again.

 

 

OTHER BITS

Great start for Darcy Lang in his first game at Carlton, snagging his first goal nice and early.

Matthew Kreuzer chasing down and catching Tipungwuti in the middle was a great indicator that the big guy came to play… and that Tippa had not, again.

True to form, Dyson Heppell’s first kick completely missed the target. For a guy who gets the ball as much as he does, he sure botches it a lot by foot.

Patrick Ambrose was excellent early against Charlie Curnow, holding him to one touch in the first quarter, as well as drifting forward and drilling a goal to end the quarter.

It’s actually a little refreshing to see players kick goals from angles with drop punts. McKernan did it in the first quarter, just as Will Hayward did last night to draw the Swans close to the Hawks.

Stringer’s only touch for the first quarter came from a reversal of a free kick further down the field. Weak.

Big one-on-one win by Lamb over Goddard to set up Harry McKay’s booming goal

Fantasia should have been pinged for holding the ball after dropping a chest mark then taking possession. You want prior opportunity? You had it, and you dropped it.

I’ll give Stringer this – it was a really good job to keep both his direct opponent and Liam Jones at bay enough to allow Ambrose’s goal to sail through without a touch on it.

Cripps is so hard to tackle. He is similar to players like Jordan de Goey and Paddy Dangerfield in that regard – very strong through the core.

It’s not often you get even numbers inside attacking 50, but the Blues got it early in the second quarter. They needed better than Graham’s hook around the body for a behind.

Adam Saad looks like a chicken with no head when he starts running at times. He reminds me of the young bull who wants to rush down the hill and have sex with a cow. He needs to be the old bull – walk down there, and have sex with them all. Please note – the cows are not representative of Carlton players… that I know of.

How good was Harry McKay's running goal? You think he could've given it off?

Great way for Charlie Curnow to get involved – ripping contested pack mark to open his account with a snap around the corner.

Great recovery by Marcus Baguley after Jed Lamb got rid of him and took possession. Baguley leapt to his feet and hunted him down, and was rewarded with a holding the ball free kick.

Loved Ed Curnow’s long goal, but if that was love, then I adore Fisher’s quick hands to him to set it up. Have a look at the vision below. Beautiful, quick, clean hands.

The Bombers attacked for five minutes straight in the second quarter. The Blues’ defence held up well.

Conor McKenna got rid of Paddy Dow so easily on the wing. It really hits home that some of the players out there really are just kids.

I have to admit, I started to barrack for Kreuzer during the game. You could tell he just cared about each and every contest. Let’s hope that is infectious. His tackle on Goddard after winning the clearance 40 metres away was a genuine highlight.

Smart to start Merrett forward in the third quarter. It reaped immediate rewards when Mullett and Jones both hit the deck in a marking contest and the ball fell to Merrett for a goal. Ed Curnow would’ve been filthy about that.

Two big contested marks in a row for the Blues saw Kreuzer beat out Bellchambers, and then Charlie Curnow pull down his second. It was a pit he missed the shot that followed, as the build up deserved more.

Kreuzer and Curnow combined again not long after, as Kreuser took the ball from the ruck, went long and found Charlie over the back for a goal.

McKenna was probably unlucky not to get a free for an arm chop against Jones running with the flight of the ball. It was as obvious as any free kick all night, but was missed.

Someone from Carlton needs to adopt that goalkeeper role. A couple of times the ball got over the back and an open goal beckoned. Might hurt against a team that knows what they’re doing. Luckily, they were playing Essendon today.

Charlie Curnow’s kicking at goal appeared to get better the further he was out. Kicking through the ball, he had no problem banging through his third from 45 metres.

First two goals of the last quarter to the Bombers saw them poised to make a move. You could see it in the eyes of Carlton fans. They were worried. McKernan goaled, then the Tipungwuti charity goal saw the game tighten up.

Enter Michael Hurley. He gave away a free to the smaller Jed Lamb after being out-positioned in a marking contest. Lamb goaled to give the Blues a little respite.

Sam Kerridge’s contested mark against Goddard was great, but it was the centring kick from Lamb that enabled it. Tremendous kick, and tremendous mark.

Darcy Parish really had a nothing game. Heard his name plenty of times. Did nothing.

Lasting memory of the last quarter was Ed Curnow blindsiding Zaharakis with a hard tackle. It was a crunch, and it was great. Long live the tackle!

 

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