Port Adelaide v Carlton - The Good, Bad and Ugly

The Blues were spirited in their attempt to get a win for Kade Simpson in his 300th game, but the Power turned it on for a ten minute stretch to put the distance between the teams as they ran out winner by 21 points.

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

 

THE GOOD

Liam Jones on Robbie Gray

In the second quarter blast (see below), Gray tore the game wide open, slamming home a couple of goals in as many minutes, but after half time, Jones ruled the roost on Robbie.

They’re an odd match up, and after it swung wildly toward Gray’s favour, it swung just as wildly back to Jones. Gray had nine touches and three goals to half time and finished with 13 touches for the game, ineffective in the second half.

In the first, Gray expertly used his body to shield the drop zone of the ball and lurched sideways when contact from Jones came, to mark and goal. I actually stopped my missus doing what she was doing to show her just how good this piece of play was. To her credit, she feigned interest.

Jones has been so hit and miss this year, much like his spoiling attempts, but his efforts after half time today were as good as you’ll see from a tall playing on a small. The way he physically kept Gray from stoppages was brilliant.

But then you have to consider that when the game was there to be won, Gray slammed home three majors, one of which was a complete work of art from around 50.

If forced to give the honours, you hand them to Gray on the back of three goals, but Jones’ second half was his best half of defensive footy for the year.

Lindsay Thomas

You know you’re doing something right when people start booing you, and by the end of the game they were booing Thomas mercilessly.

He is on the rookie list, but today is the second time we’ve had him in this category this year. He is providing a presence the Power desperately need, and he is putting his body on the line when it’s his time to go.

Thomas only had one goal beside his name today, but he had six score involvements and one direct goal assist to go along with his five tackles. His leg isn’t as powerful as it once was, or he may have made the distance with a couple of other shots at goal attributed to him.

Whilst many of the other Port recruits have the spotlight, some of it will be shining on Thomas by season’s end, and it will be doing so for the right reasons. Mark my words.

Charlie Curnow

Those waiting for the next big forward to emerge need wait any longer. Curnow took the game by the scruff of the neck in the first quarter, slamming home three goals as Carlton assumed control of the contest.

He kicked the first, sixth and seventh goals of the quarter in a free-flowing game, and had a chance to take another mark of the year contender in the last quarter, but he spilled it on the way down – we’ll discuss that a little bit later. Pivotal moment.

The Second Quarter Blast

Whilst the Blues were on fire to finish the first quarter, the second belonged to the Power. They withstood an initial burst by Carlton before dropping the hammer, increasing their own level of pressure and slotted home five straight goals before Jarrod Pickett pulled one back on the siren.

Robbie Gray was the star, but Justin Westhoff continued his very good season, bobbing up for a goal as well. Dixon started to look ominous, and the tackling pressure around the ground went up a notch, causing the Blues to start double-grabbing and creating pressure situations for themselves.

In a three minute stretch of powerful football, Port added two goals to Gray and another to Wingard. The Power looked like a top four team in that quarter, but they’ll need to do it more often and for longer against teams better placed to give September a shake.

Kade Simpson

Not many blokes make it to 300 games, and less still have huge games on that milestone occasion. Kade Simpson was able to do just that today.

He collected 37 touches in his customary role in defence, trailing only Tyson Edwards (41 disposals) and Sam Mitchell (38) in regards to possessions in the big game.

He had eight intercept possessions, eight rebounds out of 50 and a goal assist whilst travelling at 76% efficiency. Even if it hadn’t been his 300th game, he may have been chaired off by his teammates anyway.

Tom Rockliff

Jack Watts was sitting in the stands today, and I hope he was paying attention. There were two things he should’ve been focussing on with extra intent. One was the form of Sticks Marshall, who hardly got near it yet still finished with two goals, and the other was just how well Tom Rockliff played.

Rocky was sent back to the SANFL to find some form, just as Watts has been in recent weeks, and since his return, he has built and built to the point where you’d think he is now entrenched in the Power midfield. He had 12 contested touches as part of his team-high 29 disposals, and drove the Power inside 50 on six occasions.

Rockliff is the poster boy for heading back to the lower grade to find some confidence, which I admit, I always thought was a load of crap. I mean, how can you find confidence when your team tells you you’re not good enough to be part of it? Well, Rockliff is proof that it works… unless Watts turns out to be proof that it doesn’t.

The Hoff

The more the year rolls on, the more I love the work of The Hoff. His hairy chest, his tight budgie smugglers… that kid flashing a brown-eye in the opening credits of his TV show… and I also like Justin Westhoff because he is a natural footballer.

Ken Hinkley knows what a prize he has in Westhoff. Need a goal? Throw him forward. Need help in defence? Throw him back. Need some run through the middle? Onto the wing he goes. He can play anywhere, and play there well.

He drifted forward today for a couple of goals, collected 19 disposals, took six marks, laid four tackles and just kept doing what the Hoff does. If he can sing in German… I might adopt him.

Andrew Phillips

This would’ve been an area where the Power had to think they’d have an advantage today. Phillips was playing only game four for the season, and with Kreuzer (that poor bugger) out yet again, you may have expected Paddy Ryder to put on a bit of a show in the ruck.

Nuh-uh.

I am not sure what the advanced stats say, but what the eye-test told me was that Phillips wanted the ball more, worked harder and smarter than Ryder did, particularly in the first half. Simplistically, there was no way Ryder should’ve been beaten today, but as the game unfolded I got the distinct feeling that either Phillips was playing so far above himself that Ryder was in shock, or that Ryder was phoning in this performance. If you’re a Port supporter, you’d be hoping it wasn’t the latter.

 

THE BAD

Levi Casboult

So he had a broken finger last week. Today he played like he had that finger stuck up his backside and needed to pull it out at some stage!

Three behinds from four disposals is exactly the sort of game Carlton doesn’t need from a key forward, and it’s exactly what they got from Casboult. I’m tired of being polite about battlers… he was bloody ordinary, and I can’t actually remember watching a game this season where I thought he looked like he belonged out there.

The future is here at Carlton, and his name is Charlie Curnow. Sadly, the present is still there, clogging things up, and his name is Levi Casboult.

Players not wanting to do something with the ball.

Jacobs Weitering, I’m looking right at you here.

I don’t think I have ever seen a player so content to hold the ball and either walk out of play with it, or tap it towards the boundary line. He considers a stoppage a win when there is a chance he might actually be able to win a contest if he applied himself. I mean, he’s a number one draft pick – he must be able to do something with the ball. He must be able to create. I can fall over the boundary line… it was my greatest talent as a player!

It may be under strict instruction that he doesn’t attempt to do anything with the ball, but watching him, I am inclined to think that there is only one thing worse than trying to do something and failing, and that’s not trying at all.

 

THE UGLY

God Damn Pigeons

Yeah, this might be a bit of a personal bugbear, but what the hell is with all the pigeons just plonking themselves down on the sacred turf of the MCG?

This is the home of football, and the showcase of our sport, and there, out in the middle of the biggest ground in the land are twenty of so pigeons just hanging out.

Catch them, release them, breed them, treat them like royalty, kill them, maim them or just put a bit of food in a corner and lure them there where they can live happily ever after, but for god’s sake, get them out of the place.

 

OTHER BITS

Oh what’s that? We couldn’t get Patrick Cripps into the ‘good’ section? Well, we’re getting a little used to things like 30+ disposals from him, but he “only” had 12 contested touches today. Yeah… only.

I thought Liam Jones had the opportunity to really crash into Sam Powell-Pepper early in the first quarter, and opted not to take it. Would’ve made a big statement early for his team. I guess that stuff is scared out of them now – not as in he was scared to do it; more that he was scared of possible ramifications.

I don’t know about anyone else, but Matt Kennedy strikes me as a little bit too one-speeded to ever be elite mid in the league. You either have to have amazing visions and quick hands, or be able to burn people off and change direction quickly. He seems to be a plodder that doesn’t do any of those things well, BUT… he finds the footy. Blues fans… where do you see him fitting in as time goes by?

I reckon Kade Simpson got a real “it’s your 300th” call in the first quarter when he was caught red handed, holding the ball and it wasn’t paid to Robbie Gray. What makes that sort of stuff sting is when the same thing happens and the free kick goes the other way, as happened when Paddy Dow caught Houston with a similar tackle and he won a free kick for it. Consistency… that’s all you want, right?

One play in the first quarter demonstrated the value of Powell-Pepper. He read the tap at the centre bounce, ran back toward the defence, drew all the attention of the Carlton mids, stood in a tackle and released for his side to go forward. He is an absolute bull and is so hard to bring down in a tackle. It’s scary to think he is going to be bigger and stronger in the next couple of years… but he will be.

Nice to see Max Gawn at the footy watching Jack Trengove debut for the Power. Trengove was good, without being spectacular. I can’t remember him doing anything wrong all night. I don’t reckon you’d see Nat Fyfe at the footy unless he had to be there. Apparently he finds it boring… what a wanker.

Interesting to hear the commentators speak about how well Silvagni was going early. Until he laid a good tackle on Rockliff early in the second, I had hardly noticed him.

How well did the goal review work today, huh? No one saw Pickett touch the ball on the way through from Garlett’s shot at goal, except for the reviewer. That was a good get and could’ve been a real momentum killer for the Power had it been allowed.

Isolating Robbie Gray on Jack Silvagni was asking for trouble.

Matty Wright hasn’t done a lot wrong for the Blues this season, but his shallow defensive 50 exit, landing right with Sticks Marshall was a clanger of the clangeriest proportions.

Sam Petrevski-Seton simply does not do enough.

Port fans, would you be confident in saying that one game before the end of the season, that things will go right for Charlie Dixon and he’ll kick a big bag? I reckon he’s threatening to every week at the moment.

First touch to Levi Casboult after half time drew some cheers. I’d call then Bronx cheers, personally, but I am told they were legitimate cheers of absolute relief that he was able to do SOMETHING.

Charlie Curnow’s best came early in the second half. That mark, turn and goal from 50 out were fantastic.

Paddy Ryder increased his defensive output and pressure in the third. He worked his backside off to lay consecutive tackles at half back at one stage.

The Blues have really missed Marc Murphy’s ability to lower the eyes and actually hit leading targets. Once he starts getting a little more of it in the open, the Blues will win a game or two largely to him hitting a few targets inside 50.

Not many people are able to stand up and see the tackle of Patrick Cripps fall off them. Then again, not many people are Sam Powell-Pepper.

Now, I wanted to talk about this – Charlie Curnow’s missed mark. This was a momentum changer. The Blues still thought they were a chance here. If Curnow marks and holds, even just for a few seconds, the numbers run forward and he has options. He dropped it and the ball was hacked forward instead. The ball comes back via Jack Trengove who goes long to Dixon, Lindsay Thomas roves the contests and hands to Motlop for a goal. It’s not fair to point out that one mistake by Charlie, but when you’re THE MAN on your team, you take the bad with the good, and that dropped mark was pivotal in the scheme of the game.

Wingard’s dribbling goal from the boundary with a wet ball was a reminder to all that have written him off this season that he is far from a spent force. His last month has been exceptional. Great tackle by Boak, nailing Simpson to cause the turnover to set that goal up, too.

Sam Rowe is a pure defender, and if that’s your game you know never to go to ground unless you absolutely have to. He went to ground in a one-on-one against Dixon in the last quarter. Dixon kept his feet and dished to Marshall for the goal.  Keep your feet, Sam.

Riley Bonner has laid down a stern challenge to Jarryn Geary for worst torpedo of the year with his effort in the last quarter. Geary’s  was after the siren and was a shot at goal… and went twenty metres. Bonner’s was in play, went 35 metres and rebounded for a goal to Matty Kennedy.

And Levi Casboult finished the game as you’d expect from him, with a miss from 35 out after getting a free kick. Forget booing Lindsay Thomas, Carlton supporters… Casboult deserved your ire more than him.

 

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