In a game where not much was expected, one team showed exactly what we expected of them, and the other surprised.
The Fremantle Dockers won on the road, and put Carlton to the sword in the first half. That’s what we’ll be focussing on, mainly as that’s where the interest was. Basically, anything after half time was glorified junk time.
Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.
Often unsung, you simply cannot afford to discount what he produced in the first half today.
21 touches and three goals before the half time siren cemented Neale as the best player on the ground. He finished with 33 for the game, with 14 contested touches amongst them. He was clean (88% efficiency for the game) and made life for those around him easier all game.
But it was his first half that made the difference. While a lot of people will look at the stats and laud the overall performance of Cripps, Neale was the man who made the biggest impact on this contest.
Fyfe v Cripps
While the overall contest was a complete whitewash, the battle of the contested beasts was still well worth watching. Fyfe got the fast start with 12 touches in the first quarter to Cripps’ five, but Cripps rallied particularly after half time.
Fyfe finished with a couple of goals and 30 touches. Most impressive was the quality of his touches. Fyfe travelled at a spectacular 90% efficiency for the game and had 12 contested possessions. He had a mammoth 12 score involvements and pumped the ball inside 50 seven times.
Cripps ended the game with 38 touches (16 contested) and had six clearances for the game.
Overall, you would have to award this individual match up to Fyfe. He was big when the game was there to be won. We said at the outset that the second half was glorified junk time, so given that, Fyfe had the runs on the board when the game was there to be won.
Now this is something to be excited about if you’re Freo. They were looking like a team that would have to start building for next year as little as two weeks ago, but now they’re knocking on the door of one of the last finals spots. And with Apeness clunking marks in the forward half, they are starting to look dangerous.
He combined with Brennan Cox to take six contested marks in the forward half, and provided a great ‘get out of jail’ marking option when required. A strong marking target across half forward is exactly what the doctor ordered for the Dockers, and Apeness is looking as likely as anyone.
He seemed to have very sticky hands today, and even when he was out of position, he worked hard to impact the contest. Whilst he only had ten touches for the game, the way he contested was an excellent sign for Fremantle.
David Mundy’s first quarter
At the end of the first quarter, this game belonged to David Mundy.
Stationed across the half forward line, he used that big frame to not only kick the first goal, but have nine more touches en route to being the most influential figure on the field early. It was Mundy taking the Sandilands tap to have another shot. It was Mundy with the penetrating kick to Apeness in the goal square to set up Banfield’s goal, and it was Mundy beating Daisy Thomas to the ball to be instrumental in a Brennan Cox goal.
With his powerful frame and ability to read the game, Mundy is a scary prospect roaming around the forward 50, and may prove to be pivotal as to just how far the Dockers can ride their recent good form.
Some Carlton heart
Put yourself in Brendan Bolton’s shoes today. You go in at half time down 70 points – what do you do with your team.
Seriously, would’ve begged them to show some heart and some balls, and to Carlton’s credit, they did in the third quarter. They won the quarter by a point, but they were able to arrest the dominance the Dockers displayed all over the park in the first half.
In the grand scheme of it, it’s the smallest of wins, but after that abysmal first half, you’d take any win.
Alex Pearce is out, but this bloke just continues to show that he is one of the more unsung defenders in the game. Loved his work on the Carlton talls today. Was hardly beaten all day, and every time he touched it, he did something with it. 1
100% effectiveness for him today. You can't argue with that.
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Transferring the pressure
There was so much bad to focus on in the first half that it’s difficult to choose just a couple of things but this is something that teams do when they’re under the pump.
So many times today, the Blues would take possession of the ball and feed it to a player in an equally poor position. He’d do the same, and then the recipient would do it again. More often than not, the Blues would be backpedalling whilst doing this and losing ground.
All this does is multiply the pressure on the next handball recipient with each disposal. They are nothing-disposals. They mean nothing, they do nothing and they achieve nothing positive.
Good teams that excel in that in-close handball end up with a release disposal that sets them in motion. What I saw from Carlton today was a series of handballs that ended with a guy standing still under pressure, and caught holding the ball. They’ve gotta work that out.
I know this resulted in a goal, but Pat Kerr’s reluctance to take a shot at goal from 35 metres out is a little concerning.
I know he missed at the conclusion of the first half, but he was well within range early in the third, and had the opportunity to redeem his earlier miss. He kicked across goal, and whilst he found Kerridge who goaled, his own fragility was on full display. I would’ve liked to have seen him back himself at that stage.
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The Carlton first half
I know we’ve seen some deplorable efforts from teams this season. St Kilda, Gold Coast, Essendon and Carlton could all be nominated for the worst halves of the season so far, but the fact that I watched this absolute disgrace of a first half today has it front of mind.
This is not a top four team they’re playing against. Yes, Fremantle played with confidence and aggression, but Carlton were timid and reactive. They did not man up, they missed targets and they were beaten in one-on-one contests all over the ground. They were embarrassing and deserved the reaction they got from their supporters at half time.
Carlton fans are looking for green shoots, apparently. What they got in the first half today was withered dead wood.
Now this’ll mostly be from the first half – I don’t want to glorify actions from what was a dead rubber after half time.
Fyfe involved twice in the chain of disposals to create the first goal opportunity for Fremantle set a tone that would influence the entire game. He meant business.
How good were the hands from Sandilands coming out of the goals square to gather and dish to Mundy in one motion. He may not be able to clunk an overhead mark to save his life, but that gather and dish were first class. Pity Mundy could not bring it back far enough to reward the effort.
Alarm bells started ringing early when Fisher went inboard in the first quarter and Ed Curnow was caught holding the ball by Nathan Wilson. It was as though all that had to happen was one imperfect disposal to bring the Blues undone. Fisher to Curnow was that one disposal. It was a momentum killer, as had Curnow received that cleanly, the Blues were off to the races.
More alarm bells as Darcy Tucker managed to get all by himself inside 50.
Watching the Freo defence read the Carlton attempts at attack was wonderful. Connor Blakely, take a bow. He zoned off his man at half back to mark and drive long. The ball ended with Cox 35 metres out and he hit the post.
Casboult’s free kick in the first was contentious. I think he was so far under the ball to begin with on the lead that Hamling leaning into him made absolutely no difference in the play at all.
Sam Rowe’s failure to take an uncontested chest mark 30 metres out from goal was so costly. You can’t drop chest marks with players like Lachie Neale lurking. Paying the “ultimate price” is something that I always associate with Anzacs but in a footy sense, the Blues paid the ultimate price for this skill error as Neale banged home a goal.
I don’t want to go back and watch this again, but I’d love to know how many times the combination of any of Sandilands, Fyfe, Neale and Mundy connected in the first quarter. It was a masterful performance from that quartet.
Right before the quarter time siren, Charlie Curnow had his kick smothered by a Docker that appeared to be well within the protected zone. He asked the question of the umpire. The only thing I can think is that the umpire had called play on just prior to Curnow’s kick?
I’m yet to see Lachie Plowman show anything that leads me to believe he’ll be a good AFL player. For such a high pick, he is such an ordinary role player.
Brandon Matera’s squaring kick to Lachie Neale was an absolute pearler.
Speaking of Matera, it wasn’t picked up in the commentary, but I really liked the way he drew the free kick against Plowman. Running flat out at the ball, he just propped a little, which caused Plowman to get into his back. He has had a bit of an up-and-down run at Fremantle, but watching him today, I get the feeling that a big game isn’t too far away for him.
Fyfe’s goal, matched up against Ed Curnow in the second quarter was an indicator just how hard he is to match up on. Curnow wasn’t looking at the ball and was lucky to get away with not giving a free away. It didn’t matter. Fyfe kept his feet, gathered and snapped a goal.
A slip can cost a lot, can’t it? just a little slip from Jacob Weitering allowed Banfield to run him down and deliver to Sheridan for the goal.
Great to see Haydn Ballantyne rewarded at the other end after putting his body on the line and being crunched by Casboult as he dropped in the hole in front of him. Great courage by Ballantyne. I was barracking for him to kick the goal as Fyfe streamed forward moments later and spotted him inside 50.
And that was that for the first half. A few things I noticed from the second half below, but to be honest, as the game was already well and truly over, so was my interest.
Charlie Curnow toiled all day for little return. I would love to have heard the sales pitch to him to keep him at Carlton. Kool-Aid stuff…
Zac Fisher is one of the very few Blues who look to take the game on. It doesn’t always pay off, but when he gets it, he doesn’t automatically look to give it to hand it off to someone else. He wants to make something happen.
Loved Matera’s sell of the candy before slotting his goal from 40 metres. Textbook baulk.
Luke Ryan’s first goal… loved it. Sadly, his opponent kicked one almost right after it.
Not sure what Paddy Dow was trying to do with his kick from 30 metres out on the run. Just a horrible effort that neither made the distance or even looked like hitting a teammate.
Cerra v Fisher in the last quarter was the game in a microcosm. Fisher got it and Cerra dragged him down and took it off him.
Great win on the road by the Dockers. Some people gave me a few comments last week that Fremantle and finals shouldn’t be mentioned in the same sentence. Well, I just did it again, and we might be forced to do it a little more in the coming weeks.