Heroes and Zeroes – Essendon v Carlton
Dour conditions greeted the bomber and Blues at the MCG on a Sunday afternoon, and the contest was awful to boot. In an error-riddled game, Essendon’s experienced stocks and better intensity at the coalface was the difference as John Worsfold’s charges walked away with the all-important four points. For Carlton, it was a tale of the same-old, same-old. Compete for a half, and fall away in the second stanza.
Here’s the Mongrel’s Heroes and Zeroes.
Carlton’s best by a mile, and then some. Big man, Matt Kreuzer has always worn his heart on his sleeve, and the veteran gave his all again against the Bombers. Kreuzer finished with 21 touches, 32 hitouts and a brilliant goal, brought about from a terrific contested mark in the first term.
I’ve always been a huge fan of Kreuzer, a player who has certainly experienced plenty of tough times in the navy blue. You simply cannot question the loyalty of a bloke who gets smashed in the contest week-in and week-out yet does his absolute best to get back on the park and provide first use to his teammates.
At 30 years of age, Kreuzer might not have much left in the tank career-wise, but when the does decide to hang up his boots, he can be very proud of his contributions at AFL level. Very proud indeed.
It’s not often a second gamer gets given the task of putting the clamps on one of, if not the best, AFL player in the competion, Patrick Cripps. So, when youngster Dylan Clark was given this enormous responsibility, it’s fair to say many would have expected Cripps to have a field day and towel up the raw rookie.
Astonishingly, Clarke played an absolute belter of the game and kept his star opponent to a meager 11 disposals, including just two kicks. When you consider that Cripps has averaged 28.6 possessions to date this season, keeping him to such low numbers is a mammoth effort in its own right.
Yet, Clarke didn’t stop there. The 20 year old enjoyed 23 bites of the Sherrin himself had 11 tackles and four marks to wrap up a display of epic proportions. It was a game so good, it’s hard to believe he’s been on Essendon’s list for two years and was only given a chance at the highest level once last season. As they say, good things come to those who wait, and Clarke’s patience and perseverance looks like it is going to pay dividends.
Mr. Consistent in the Dons back-half, Michael Hurley played another effective role against the Blues. On many occasions, Hurley patrolled his team’s defensive half with great potency, acquiring a heap of intercept marks and kick-starting plenty of transition football.
Hurley has been solid this season, and would have to be a roughie for All-Australian selection in terms of the back six. One thing I’ve liked about Hurley this season is his kicking efficiency. It seems as if an increased confidence in his own game has correlated with the 29 year old hitting more targets. Perhaps, at times, Hurley would better his game by pushing up the ground a touch and cutting off the footy before it enters the ‘defensive danger zone.’ Regardless, Hurley deserves a mention as a key contributor to his side this season.
A true leader, a true competitor and a true star of the competition. Dyson Heppell delivered another brilliant, four quarter effort against Carlton, helping his side get first use from the middle. After booting the first goal of the game, Heppell settled into his work and accumulated a lazy 36 touches and five marks. Not bad numbers on a rain-sodden MCG.
It was Heppell’s contested game which really stood out, with the Bombers skipper racking up a huge 22 contested possessions. In a game which was won in the clinches, second efforts and crashing packs were critical factors, and Heppell ticked all the boxes in this regard. Well done, Dyson Heppell.
Putting Carlton forward Alex Fasolo in the zeroes bracket for this game doesn’t even do his efforts (or lack of) justice. Simply put, Fasolo was woeful… really woeful. The polarising player had two kicks and four hand passes, but it was what he didn’t have which worried more.
Fasolo looked lost, lazy and frankly disinterested. Of all days to play footy, the wet conditions would have suited Fasolo’s traditional game style of running and gunning off the back of the pack in the forward line. I hate to be pessimistic, but I really do feel like the AFL world may have seen the last of Alex Fasolo after his performance today. If that is the case, it would be a sad way to bow out, for a footballer who offered so much potential at a junior level.
There is rusty kicking, there is poor kicking and then there is Nick Newman kicking. Carlton’s back-line needed to be at their best if they were to be any chance of knocking off the Dons, and they just weren’t up to it, largely thanks to some pathetic foot skills from ex-swan Nick Newman.
Newman coughed up the footy from the outset of the game, giving Dyson Heppell an easy set-shot and subsequent goal from a horror kick-out. Newman sprayed a handful of his kicks out of bounds on the full, and also missed a gettable chance on the run when he headed into his side’s forward-half. All in all, Newman finished with a disposal efficiency of 52%, a horror showing in the context of a solid 77% he had averaged prior to this contest.
It wasn’t an easy day for the big men, so it may be a little harsh to flag McKernan here. However, it’s fair to say that it wasn’t the former Crow’s best day at the office. While he crashed the pack hard, McKernan finished with just nine touches at 22% efficiency, giving Nick Newman a run for his money in terms of the poor disposal use stakes.
McKernan had one straight forward shot at goal and fluffed the chance. There is no doubt that big Shaun will be hoping for dryer conditions in his side’s next game against the Hawks.
Returning to senior level after a long stint in the VFL, Darcy Lang would have been keen to lock in his spot as a go-to small forward for Brendon Bolton. Unfortunately for Lang, it wasn’t to be. He had a chance to kick the first goal of the game but somehow managed to miss everything from a simple, slight angle.
Lang impressed me in his brief career at the Cats, and it is disappointing to see that he hasn’t taken his game to new heights at the Blues. It would be unfair to say that his team’s inexperience is to blame for his lack of involvement, but equally, he received silver service at Geelong which certainly helped his cause there. I’d like to see Brendon Bolton stick with Lang for another week, as I certainly see more upside than downside with the 23 year old.
Grey skies ahead for the Blues?
Carlton had a real chance to turn up to the MCG on a cold, rainy day, and topple the red and black sash. Yet again, they blew it. It’s easy to say Carlton’s young bodies still need time to adapt to the ferociousness of AFL football, but there comes a time when one must be frank and honest about the future at Ikon Park. If we’re to be just that, then Brendon Bolton has to go, and go as soon as possible.
We’ve seen the immediate effect that a coaching cleanout can have on a team, ala North Melbourne, who conjured up a resounding win against the Tigers in Rhyce Shaw’s first game as senior coach. With just one win from 11 games this season, it’s time Brendon Bolton is shown the door with immediate effect. With the bye two weeks away for the Blues, is it time the cellar dwellers pull the pin on their coaches’ career? I certainly think it is.