Enough has been said about the turmoil at Carlton. The question was always going to be how the Blues would respond.
The opening ten minutes were dominated by Carlton everywhere except the scoreboard. The inside 50 count was 10-1 at one stage and the Blues only had two behinds to show for their hard work, which was sadly punctuated by a kicking efficiency of under 50%.
There was a sense of déjà vu as Brisbane’s Eric Hipwood finally kicked truly after one of the Lions’ rare forays forward. It seemed to settle the team as they then wrestled back control and finished the quarter with goals to Jacob Allison and Daniel McStay, while Carlton were goalless. Quarter time scores were Carlton 0.3(3) v Brisbane 3.3 (21).
Lachie Neale was the most influential player on the ground at this stage of the game and the skill errors were mounting up for the Blues. The second quarter started favourably for the Lions. Within the first six minutes they’d banged on three more goals to Charlie Cameron, Neale and Hugh McLuggage. The lead blew out to 37 points, and it was beginning to appear an all-too familiar tale for supporters of the Navy Blue. Finally, in the 13th minute, through a bit of second and third effort perseverance, Jack Silvagni was able to set up Michael Gibbons for the Blues’ first major for the game.
The Blues fought out the quarter and were able to kick two more goals through Lachie O’Brien and Charlie Curnow and somehow found themselves going into the long break trailing by just 18 points. The margin should have been smaller but for Will Setterfield missing from 30m out directly in front just before half-time. That moment came and went and Blues supporters would’ve no doubt been thinking that the miss might be costly in the final analysis of the game. Scores at half time were Carlton 3.4 (22) v Brisbane 6.4 (40).
Lachie Neale was unstoppable with 25 possessions, although Ed Curnow was finally moved on to him late in the quarter. For Carlton, Sam Walsh had 19 possessions while Cripps was slowly working his way into the game with 16.
The third quarter started with a goal to Brisbane in the first minute of play to McStay for his second of the match. It looked as though Brisbane were still very much in control after a perfect centre break ended with the Lions out to a 4-goal lead. Even the most ardent Carlton supporter would’ve thought of that goal as the one that snuffed out any hope the Blues had of getting back into the game. However, the Blues had other ideas as they kicked three goals in just four minutes to Cripps, Gibbons and Cripps again hitting the scoreboard to find themselves trailing by just five points.
The next ten minutes saw a bit of an arm wrestle. Ed Curnow had managed to quell the influence of Lachie Neale and Patrick Cripps was asserting his authority on the game. It was the 17 minute mark where Mitch McGovern, after a very quiet first half, marked and goaled to give Carlton the lead. A few minutes later Charlie Curnow kicked his second and the Blues found themselves out to a 10 point lead. From that point, the Lions sensed the game was slipping away so they found another gear and pressed hard against a resolute Carlton defence and finally broke through with just seconds left on the clock via a goal to Dayne Zorko. That said, the Blues led at three quarter time 8.9 (57) to 8.5 (53).
Cripps had 13 possessions for the quarter to go with two goals in a dominant display, while the tagging job of Ed Curnow held Neale to just three possessions for the term. Ed Curnow is as good as any stopper in the AFL yet has been rarely used in this role in 2019 – today would prove how baffling that idea was…
The stage was set for a big final quarter, but the expectation at Marvel Stadium would’ve been another honourable loss to Carlton as the 5th placed Lions would surely shake off the Blues. Patrick Cripps had other ideas as he slotted his third goal at the three minute mark, and when Charlie Curnow put through his third at the 11 minute mark, the Blues found themselves with some unfamiliar breathing space.
The Lions were pressing hard, and the goal kicking of the modern footballer will no doubt be in the spotlight again as Stefan Martin missed from just 12 metres out on a slight angle. It looked as though the Lions’ wastefulness in front of goal would put the game out of reach. However, with five minutes remaining on the clock, Lincoln McCarthy took a courageous mark and kicked accurately from 25m out. The margin was whittled down to eight points and there was still a sense of impending gloom for Carlton supporters.
After a minute or two of scrappy play, it was only fitting that the Blues captain would mark and boot the sealer. Patrick Cripps finished the match with a career-high 38 disposals and a career-high four goals. It would be a brave or stupid person who would suggest he was not clearly the best player on the ground. Final score, Carlton 11.12 (78) v Brisbane 9.9. (63).
After having 25 possessions to half time, Lachie Neale only managed six more touches as Ed Curnow did what he does best. Sam Walsh also had a career-high 32 possessions, Ed Curnow had 30.
Carlton – Cripps, Walsh, E.Curnow, Weitering, Gibbons
Brisbane – Neale, McLuggage, Rich, Witherden
Carlton – Cripps 4, C.Curnow 3, Gibbons 2, McGovern, O’Brien
Brisbane – McStay 2, Neale, Cameron, Hipwood, McLuggage, McCarthy, Zorko, Allison. VOTES Cripps 3, Walsh 2, Neale 1
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