Carlton have once again made a claim for the intellectual property rights to honorable losses, having given up a 36-point lead late in the second term to go down to an inspired Hawthorn comeback in Launceston.
While the Blues lost Kade Simpson to a hamstring injury at half time, with Nic Newman and Matthew Kreuzer also finishing the game on the bench with lower leg injuries, the tide had started to turn minutes before half time, with the Blues unable to capitalize on a period of dominance in the last five minutes of the quarter to ice the game, reaping only one behind from their efforts.
The Hawks went into the main break 31 points down, rather than a 7-8 goal margin that the flow of the game dictated the Blues deserved to this point, having been able to carve up the Hawthorn midfield with constant handball chains through the middle of the ground, finding Hawthorn wanting for outside run and accountability.
In the second half, changes were made by Alastair Clarkson and co that the Blues seemed unprepared for – notably the injection of Jarryd Roughead into the middle; Jack Gunston moving into the backline having been unsighted in the first half and well held by Jacob Weitering, while Luke Breust and Chad Wingard managed to get on top of their respective battles with Lachie Plowman and Dale Thomas respectively to start hitting the scoreboard with regularity.
In comparison, Carlton players who dominated the first half such as Harry McKay, Sam Petrevski-Seton and Jack Silvagni went missing in the second half, as the Blues came up short by perhaps a second of play, with McKay taking a huge pack mark a second after the siren that could have perhaps given the Blues a shot at redemption.
This is the Mongrel Wrap.
BEST ON GROUND
19 touches at 78% accuracy, 4 tackles, 4 clearances. Kept Patrick Cripps to 28 touches at 64% accuracy.
The game winning move for the Hawks, as Howe sat on Cripps all day – possibly the best tagging job anyone has done on the Carlton superstar to date. Howe had the physical tools to effectively block Cripps out of the clearances where possible, and force Cripps into getting the footy in some largely unfavourable positions – a lot of his footy gained right on the boundary line or with three Hawks corralling him, the unusually low 64% accuracy a testament to this.
Disappointing for the Carlton captain that no teammates seemed willing to help him break the tag, or provide a physical presence to get him a free run at the stoppages. As Hawthorn were prepared to do by moving Jaryd Roughead into the midfield to provide a bigger body around the clearances – it remains unanswered why Carlton weren’t willing to move a McGovern or even Jacob Weitering in there with him.
42 touches at 64% accuracy, 23 contested. 1 goal, 2 tackles
If Howe sticking to Cripps all day was the match winning move, then Carlton’s inability to tag Jaeger O’Meara until Ed Curnow moved over to him in time-on in the last quarter was perhaps the match loser.
O’Meara was a rare 4 quarter contributor for the Hawks, and single-handedly kept them in the game during a Blues blitz in the second quarter.
On a ground that rarely provides aesthetically pleasing footy, O’Meara looked to be the only player running on top of the ground, rather than slogging through it at times.
Caleb Marchbank – 13 touches, 3 marks, tagging Isaac Smith (20 touches)
Might be an odd choice for the last vote, but thought his efforts today in running with Smith were sensational for a player well out of their comfort zone. Normally taking the 2nd or 3rd tall, Marchbank instead went with the best long-distance runner in the AFL (no disrespect to Mark Blicavs intended), and shut him out of the game. Smith ended up with 20 touches, but failed to trouble the scorers all day, and was noticeably absent when a host of senior Hawthorn players finally showed up in the second half. I’d argue Smith is Hawthorn’s most valuable player – tag him out of the game, and the Hawks struggle on the outside massively, which was very much the case today, as the Blues ran them off their feet early on.
For a player who’s had his courage questioned a couple of times unfairly in the media at times, there was some significant courage on display today to be able to gut out a run with role on someone like Smith, without very little experience to show for it.
WORST ON GROUND
22 touches, 6 clangers, 54% efficiency off just 2 contested possessions, 3 tackles.
If the Blues were serious, they’d follow Adelaide’s lead with his mate, Bryce Gibbs, and send him to the VFL for a spell. That was as bad as a game from a leader of a club as you’d ever want to see, bordering on taking the piss.
The constant kicking off the back foot and subsequent missing of targets and the hospital handballs to younger teammates to avoid wearing one himself have been an unfortunate aspect of his game for a while now. Today’s game best summed up by the absolute soda he put out on the full from about 20m out when the game was up for grabs, before a poor defensive effort on Liam Shiels on the last line of defence gifted Shiels a goal to put the Hawks in front late in the game.
Murphy looks damaging when he’s allowed to be the 4th or 5th banana in the Carlton midfield, and 250 games into his career, so he should. Currently he’s a defensive liability that offers little run both ways, and lazy turnovers starting to creep in rapidly.
9 touches, 1 mark, played on Harry McKay (2.2, 6 marks)
When you saw the panicked free kick Brand gave away against McKay early in the first quarter, you saw a player with very little confidence in his capacity to curtail the influence of the bigger and more athletic McKay, who largely did what he liked in the first term.
While McKay’s influence was limited in the second half, this was probably more a case of Hawthorn gaining the ascendency in the midfield battle, and Carlton going back into their shell and refusing to run and carry. Brand’s head dropped pretty early in to the game, and it didn’t really lift from there.
13 touches at 61%, 0.1
I don’t think there’s a player in the league who has so many shots at goal without ever troubling the scorers as much as Gibbons does. Every game there’s a handful of shots that don’t make the distance, or dribble out of bounds, or just simply go 20m up in the air and create a nothing contest.
Gibbons is a bloody good natural ball-winner, his natural instincts are elite, but as a small forward, he’s just not even close to damaging. If the Blues do heed the call to send Murphy out to Preston for a week, I’d like to see what he can do in the midfield rotations a bit more. At least he costs less than Alex Fasolo I guess?
I’M NOT SURE HOW I FEEL ABOUT THESE
* - Real underrated battle between Dale Thomas and Chad Wingard today. Wasn’t massively close checking by any stretch of the imagination, but a fun battle – Thomas clearly took the honours to half time, both for his capacity to create offensively off half back, but also Wingard had a stinker, missing his only set shot from 20m out directly in front and very little say otherwise on the play. Wingard fought back with two crucial goals late in the game, with little support for Thomas as Simpson and Newman both off injured. I’d give Thomas the points, just.
* - Is there a genuine case for Jack Silvagni being ahead of Charlie Curnow in Carlton’s forward line at the moment? Yes, mostly circumstantial at the moment – Carlton need a second ruckman, and Levi Casboult’s efforts late in the game in the absence of Kreuzer were critical, whilst Curnow’s season to date has been nothing short of poor. That’s not to dispel what Silvagni offers in the high leading forward role. He’s a far smarter footballer than Curnow – and uses the ball a lot more diligently to the benefit of his teammates in that spot. Curnow seems to be fairly one dimensional at it – see ball, get ball, end up on highlight reel or bomb it long to the square, numbers be damned. I also really like Silvagni’s urgency to move the footy on, and usually does so without panic. Charlie Curnow is obviously in Carlton’s best 22 – that’s without question. Is he better served on a wing instead?
* - The Hawks are probably two minutes of game time off being a 5-1 side, the fadeout against the Dogs remarkable, and an unlucky loss to the Saints. People seem over-eager to write them off. They had an off-day for the majority of the game, and still got lucky for a change. How will the extra 4 day break against the Dees impact next week’s clash? Is it too long a break for Melbourne? Have they put the cue in the rack? After wins like that, the Hawks probably want to get out there and play tomorrow.
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