St Kilda v Ugly - The Good, Bad and Carlton

The Saints did what was expected of them and blew out the Blues by 64 points on Friday night footy.

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

THE GOOD

Cripps v Steele

This was quite enthralling.

Another 20+ contested possession game for Cripps and he had 10 clearances as well, but Steele was far from disgraced. He matched the Carlton star at stoppages, earning seven clearances of his own, and had 15 contested touches amongst his 33 disposals for the game. Not bad for a negating player.

Steele’s crowning achievement would be that only one of his 33 touches failed to have the desired effect. He ran at 97% efficiency for the evening and had a whopping 11 score involvements, with one being a direct goal assist.

So when people start talking about whether Cripps should get three votes for this game, as many in the media have, how about we look at his defensive game, and what he was able to provide there? Cripps laid four tackles, which is a nice average to maintain. Steele had 10. So for mine, you can’t hand votes out to Cripps, or you’d be doing it on reputation as much as result.

Both players kicked a goal each, with Cripps letting Steele know all about his efforts after he snagged his goal in the first quarter. I reckon that spurred Steele on. Personally, the only place I thought Cripps had the distinct advantage over his opponent was in the air. He has beautiful hands and clunks marks even under duress. I don’t think I saw him lose, or break even in a one-on-one aerial contest until the last quarter. He took three contested marks for the game. Goose egg for Steele in that department.

Jack Billings

This is the Jack Billings I thought would really give the All Australian team a shake this season. He found space tonight, made great decisions with the ball, and looked every bit the player St Kilda need him to be.

What impressed me most was his four direct goal assists. If you give him any time and space in the forward half, his delivery to teammates is going to hurt. I would not expect the Tiger defenders to afford him the same kind of room he was allowed tonight, but if he gets on top of his direct opponent, he will provide real headaches.

He finished with a season-high 30 touches and really enjoyed the lack of defensive pressure around the half forward line. A great confidence builder for him.

Rowan Marshall

Yeah, he lumbers a little but he leads at the ball and has a nice pair of hands. If he extends his arms and leaps at the ball, he is almost impossible to spoil.

Marshall kicked 2.2 and clunked eight marks for the game, four of which came in contested situations. At this point in his career, tonight’s  game that will be at the top of his CV, slightly in front of the game where Alan Richardson walked him down the race to yell at him away from everyone else.

The big man was able to have an influence in the ruck with Matthew Kreuzer off for the majority of the game, and he had 23 hitouts to add to his game. Sadly, only two of these went to his team’s advantage… a bit of work to be done there. He’s obviously good enough to get his hand on it – he just needs to coordinate better with those mids and he'll provide the back up to Hickey that Longer should be.

Marshall has some good skills at ground level and as he develops more confidence in his place in the team, these will only get better. As much as I’ve heard people talk about Harry McKay at Carlton, this kid could be better. He has two years on him at the moment, but he is an undoubted talent as long as the saints don’t get too impatient with him.

By 2020, I think the Saints will have their key forward post well and truly locked down, and it’ll be Marshall holding it. Sorry Paddy - I reckon Marshall is the key.

Jack Steven

I believe I wrote this once before, but it was painfully evident to me again tonight – Jack Steven moves and plays like… takes a breath and exhales… Dane Swan.

Sorry, had to write it that way as the last time I said it, I got an angry message from a Pies supporter stating that I am never to mention Steven and the writer’s hero in the same breath ever again. But tonight’s game was very Swan-like.

He finished with 33 touches, 10 of which were contested, ran all day in that short-stepping little shuffle he’s got going, and slammed home two goals. I’ve often thought that Steven gets the blinkers on whenever he is within about 60 metres of goal, but if he can finish, why not?

THE BAD

Daisy Thomas

We saw the best from Daisy early with a gorgeous goal on the run on the hand-off from Lochie O’Brien, but then the wheels kind of fell off Thomas’ game.

He was really stiff to be pinged for a holding free kick against Jack Lonie. It was actually pretty good play by Lonie to trick the umpire into thinking he was being held. I am all for a bit of a con if a player can get away with it. Note – not a stage… a con. Cons are highly respected at the Mongrel Punt.

But it wasn’t the free kick that landed Daisy in this category. Following the goal, Daisy decided to take matters into his own hands. After some colourful language was caught on the audio, Daisy pulled Lonie to the ground from behind and gave away a free kick at half forward before the ball was bounced.

But wait… there’s more. It was as though Daisy’s skill deserted him for the remainder of the game from this point. His kicking was horrible and he collected six clangers for the game. He turned it over repeatedly and looked like every touch was an F-You to someone.

I’ll give Thomas this much – he looks as though he actually cares. He tries his guts out irrespective of the score, but looking at tonight’s game… caring may not be enough to have him taking up a spot off half back for the Blues next season. Tonight, he looked like the bloke who plays seconds locally, used to be really good, but can’t quite do what he used to. All heart, but his skills are rapidly deserting him.

And yeah, maybe trim those sideburns, hippie. 

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The last kick in the chain

This must be so frustrating for Carlton fans, amongst so many other things.

Once in a while, the Blues get a bit of a run going. They link up, run through the middle and start looking like a decent side, and then it happens… someone has to kick to a forward target.

What happens then is like every player attempting to kick to the forward suddenly contracts an inner-ear infection and loses all semblance of balance, completely screwing up the kick and opening up the opportunity for the opposition to rebound.

The amount of times the Saints were able to get and go from Carlton’s half forward line was alarming. That last kick hurt them so many times tonight.

 

THE UGLY

Matthew Kreuzer

Geez, I feel for this guy. What actually happened to him, tonight?

I’ve watched the incident several times and I can’t for the life of me work out what went wrong. He was caught in a very innocuous tackle, went to ground and then we didn’t see him for the rest of the game.

It left a huge hole in the Carlton set up, with none of the replacements able to get a hand on the ball at stoppages. The hit out total ended up 52-24 in favour of the Saints.

It must pain Kreuzer to watch a guy like Brodie Grundy run around having the sort of season he is. THAT is the sort of impact Kreuzer was supposed to have for years for the Blues. Sadly, injuries and a host of bad luck have robbed him and his team of the kind of career that would have made a real difference to the fortunes of the club.

 

OTHER BITS

I thought the Saints were much more physical early in the game. I loved Gresham’s tackle on Lamb, a huge tackle on Dow, and Webster’s bump on Fisher early in the game. It set a good tone for the way the Saints wanted to play.

Harry McKay looked likely when leading up the ground. If anyone knows the “reasons” he has been held out of the side, shoot me a message.

I know we’ve been having a Kade Simpson love-fest in recent weeks, but he was really iffy early in the game tonight. It was a fumble from him that put Ed Curnow under pressure. He coughed it up with an errant kick, allowing Newnes to chip in, cut it off, and goal. His kick out on the full in the second under minimal pressure was horrid as well.

Zac Fisher has a tremendous first couple of steps off the mark. Just goes from 0-100 real quick.

Once again tonight, it was the team prepared to back their skills through the middle that looked best. The Saints failed to finish on the run several times, but the play that opened the game up for them through the middle was excellent.

Matt Kennedy… I’m not sold on him. I know he has had an injury-plagues year, but to me he looks a little one-speed. As a matter of fact, Fisher aside, even the zippy Carlton forwards (Garlett, Pickett…) look like they lack that explosive burst of speed. Kennedy lacks polish at this stage and Carlton already have the best grunt-worker in the business at stoppages.

It seems to me every time Silvagni has a chance to make a mark on a game, he goes to water. His miss from 30 out in the first quarter was atrocious.

Marchbank’s kick backwards to Daisy… ugh. Goal to Sinclair. An absolute gift.

How great was the speed by Harry McKay burning off Jake Carlisle! Deserved a better result.

It’s not often you see two players overstep the line on kick ins. Carlton, take a bow.

The roving of the tap from Marshall by Billings to run into the open goal was spectacular. Perfect roving on the move, and though it hit another pair of hands on the way through, Billings was clean as a whistle.

Jack Steven was awarded a free kick for a dangerous tackle tonight against Paddy Dow. This was an absolute crock. Steven was trying to fight through the tackle, and he ultimately lost the battle when he threw his leg at the ball to get a kick away. All Dow could do in order to stop any sling from happening was let go completely. Is that what you want to see in the game? Players letting other players dispose of the ball because they’re not allowed to tackle? Very stiff, Paddy Dow.

Loved the Saints forward half pressure tonight. I do think Carlton’s distinct lack of poise has a lot to do with it, but they caused a heap of shallow exits from 50, which allowed the forwards and mids to swoop in. The Blues just looked like all avenues were shut down (players not working hard enough to make position), which allowed the Saints to attack the man.

Great mark from Membrey, just manhandling Sam Rowe to get better position. Rowe had the best spot and Membrey just shifted him out of the way like a child to get to the ball, mark and goal.

Hated seeing Matt Shaw appealing for a dangerous tackle after being nailed by Newnes. Shut up, Matt – how about getting rid of the ball?

Before Jack Steven kicked his goal from 50 in the third quarter, I reckon he was alone at half forward for 30 seconds. Lazy defence by the Blues.

The last quarter was complete junk time – nice way to run some people into form. Overall, a solid outing by the Saints. I’d have liked to see them convert a little better – this could’ve easily been a 100-point win. For the Blues… man, I don’t know where you’re headed. I can probably see it all clicking for one game for the remainder of the season (looking at the Hawthorn game, actually), but overall… just horrible.

 

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