Da da-da da-da…
And just like that, the Blues are off the bottom of the ladder.
You could be forgiven for writing the Carlton obituary at quarter time. Down by five goals after a goalless quarter, it looked as though Fremantle were not just going to cement a spot in the eight, but add to their percentage.
Without their inspirational leader, and with Charlie Curnow going down in the first quarter with a knee injury following a collision with Ethan Hughes, Carlton rallied, gutted out a cracking win, and the roar as Marc Murphy slotted a goal after stepping Griffin Logue indicated that the success-starved Blues have just been waiting for something to scream about.
Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.
THE PULSATING LAST QUARTER
Above all else, and above any individual heroics, the last quarter of footy was the highlight of this game.
Conditions were not perfect. It was slippery underfoot, and players fumbled, but the pressure, and manic desire to will the ball forward was the absolute highlight of this game.
If you have it recorded, sit back and enjoy the show. It was desperate, it was see-sawing, and it was bloody brilliant to watch.
This was a difficult one. At half time, I thought Fyfe had well and truly broken the tag of Curnow, and was having his way. He was definitely unstoppable in the air, and as good as Ed is as a run-with player, Fyfe was proving to be a handful.
But where Curnow was able to match it with his nemesis was at stoppages, to the point where at half time, Ed had accumulated six clearances to Fyfe’s four. In an inspired move by David Teague, he recognised both a) Ed was having little influence on Fyfe’s game, and b) as a clearance player, he could be the most influential on the park.
The tag was released, and whilst Jack Silvagni would take the run-with duties (see below), it was Curnow who became the ball winner, and he did it in typical Curnow fashion – with grunt work.
He had 20 contested touches (game-high and a number usually reserved for the best midfield bulls in the game) amongst his 32 disposals, but it was the astonishing 16 clearances that made the older Curnow brother stand out.
With Matt Kreuzer getting on top, and Paddy Cripps sitting out, Curnow became the number one man at stoppages, and his ability to get to the fall of the ball at the right time was excellent.
We often hear about the exploits of Charlie, but today, Ed was the man.
He is such a maligned figure, and there are times that I think it may just be justified. In the first quarter he led at the ball carrier, got pretty good delivery, and just failed to glove the ball.
Here we go again, I thought.
But at half time, David Teague (who looks a fair bit like my auntie, I have to say) switched the Son of the Son of Serge onto the Freo match winner, Nat Fyfe, and whilst saying he completely stopped Fyfe would be a stretch, he definitely made life difficult for him.
At half time, Fyfe had 15 touches and was easily the best player on the ground. He was clunking marks, winning the ground ball, getting clearances and laying tackles. Would you have Fyfe in your votes?
So what does that mean for Silvagni’s job on him?
Fyfe finished with 29 touches and six clearances – a solid day at the office, but just two of those clearances came with Silvagni standing next to him. Meanwhile, SoSoS was able to grab four clearances himself, and it also freed up Ed Curnow to go about his business.
Silvagni also managed to sneak forward and slot a great goal from the boundary after the Carlton forward pressure a hack kick out of defence.
Many Carlton players will hold their heads up high after this performance, but none would be prouder than Jack Silvagni. He played a huge role in turning the tables for the Carlton midfield.
I’m putting my hand up here – I have not been a Marc Murphy fan over the journey. I have found him less than inspiring at times, and down-right infuriating at others. At one point I flat-out refused to spell his name with a ‘c’ as a bit of a protest. If he wasn't doing anything special, why have your name spelt specially, right?
Yeah, I know it is as petty as hell. Quite silly, too.
And you may notice that it’s spelt correctly in this one, as he was huge. A season-high 34 possessions was exactly what was needed from the old leader in lieu of having the new leaders out there, and Murphy turned the clock back to the days the Carlton midfield looked to him as their number one man.
He had seven clearances for the game, but it was his late-game heroics that are bound to be remembered most. Off a very classy knock on from Zac Fisher, Murphy took the ball cleanly, sold some candy to Griffin Logue, and slotted a goal with 34 seconds remaining.
There was a lot to take in on that last play, with Kreuzer attempting to do what everyone knew he was going to – tap it back over his head, with Murphy almost running onto it the first time, with the little kick forward from Gibbons, and the ability to stand strong in the tackle by Casboult all worthy of mention.
But it was Murphy’s poise, Murphy’s composure, and Murphy’s ability to deliver when it mattered most that will be the last image of this game.
I was all ready to proclaim this bloke the hero that Freo needed, and you know what – he may turn out to be.
With the big guns no longer firing, and the Blues really pressing, and in fact hitting the lead, Sam Switkowski took it upon himself to change the game. Yeah, I am sure you are all thinking about the goal to give Freo the lead, and whilst that was a great snap under pressure, I much prefer what he did defensively.
If we were handing out votes for the last quarter alone, Switkowski would get the three. His run down tackle of Captain Oblivious, Paddy Dow as the Blue got overexcited and decided to play on at 50 metres out was inspiring.
And his dual efforts moments before, laying consecutive tackles to open the game up for Freo was the sort of pressure a few of his teammates could’ve learned from.
Switkowski managed two games last year but has become more of a regular contributor to the Dockers this season. When the game was on the line, he really stepped up his game, and it was a shame for him that he couldn’t be the one being swamped by teammates for kicking the game winner. That honour fell to Marc Murphy.
Another maligned figure featuring in the ‘good’ section this week, McCarthy’s kicking is definitely worthy of mention here.
Even when he wasn't trying to kick goals, they seemed to go through, and his set shots for goal could be used as training footage for aspiring forwards. If only he got more of it – good things happen when he gets his hands on the footy.
It was McCarthy’s vision to go inboard to Michael Walters that opened up the space for Sam Switkowski to run onto the spilled ball in the last quarter when having a shot from the acute angle must have crossed his mind. He is a forward in the team due to no others being available. He had the chance to cover himself in glory and elected to go inboard.
He did the right thing, and it almost capped a great night.
In the grand scheme of this game, it may appear as though Sam Petrevski-Seton didn’t do a hell of a lot. 23 touches at 52% efficiency is nothing to write home about, but let’s focus on the positives, right Mongrel?
There were multiple factors in the third quarter that saw the Blues emerge as a legitimate threat to take this game from the Dockers, and none were bigger than Sam Petrevski-Seton. A player that can be either white hot, or ice cold, SPS stepped to the fore in the third quarter to lead the way for Carlton with his pressure on the ball, and clean hands when it came his way.
He was a catalyst for the Carlton midfield lift, and became vital to the Blues as his delivery forward of the ball displayed something many players lack – belief in their own ability. His 15 contested disposals underpinned a performance that indicated he is unafraid to get his hands dirty.
As the Blues search for another midfield weapon, SPS has been guilty of misfiring at times, but not in this game, and not in the third quarter. There will be a lot of smiles at Princes Park this week, and several of them will occur in the video review as Petrevski-Seton has his good work with and without the ball highlighted.
He’s looked like a battler most of the year, and he looked like a battler yet again today.
Any way you swing it, Mitch McGovern has not been anywhere near what Carlton hoped he’d be this season. Tonight he had eight touches with just three of them effective (one of which came from a soft free kick, and another from gathering his own spilled mark to goal).
Recruited for his contested marking (he had none) and marking overall (he had two), McGovern would probably not be getting a game in most clubs this season. After a back injury in the pre-season, he has struggled to look even remotely fit, and his second and third efforts should be treated like the appearance of Haley’s comet, they happen so rarely.
Had the Blues lost this one, there’d be people painted as villains, but winning wallpapers over most cracks. One of the cracks in the Carlton wall is Mitch McGovern. I hope he has a full pre-season to be right for 2020, because if this is what the Blues are paying for, they’re paying way too much.
At least he dropped Luke Ryan with a nice shoulder tackle early in the piece… I enjoyed that.
BAD MATCH UPS
Speaking of McGovern, can someone explain to me how firstly, Michael Walters was left isolated on him for 30 seconds in the instance that led to his only goal of the night, and why Adam Cerra then went to him to play on him immediately following his goal?
McGovern is a 191 cm power forward. He weighs 93 kilograms (same as me!). Cerra is three centimetres shorter (which isn’t much, granted) but is nine kegs lighter. Had McGovern been in any semblance of form, he could have taken Cerra out to the woodshed and beaten him goooooood.
As it stands, he didn’t so all is well, but if your answer to the problem of a potential high-marking forward is a mid-size defender who is outweighed by nine kilograms, I think you had better do some work on your whiteboard.
The advice is free Ross. You don’t have to take it.
THE REACTION TO JEREMY MCGOVERN
Hear me out here. I know Blues fans want to read about the great win, and how they fought against adversity in this one, and I hope I’ve provided that for you, but I saw something tonight that, frankly, started pissing me off.
Last week we saw Jeremy McGovern push Essendon youngster, and possessor of a terrible hairstyle, Matt Guelfi, into the fence. It created an enormous amount of controversy, and as a result, the big fella sat this week out.
After Matthew Kennedy won a free kick in the third quarter for what was ostensibly a tackle that dumped him over the line, I wondered whether umps were being a little reactive to what happened last week. I dismissed it quickly, as surely they’re not going to start being more aware of people running into the fence in the second last quarter of the following round.
But in the fourth quarter, it jumped out at me again.
Caleb Marchbank gathered the ball between half back and the win, and his momentum had him running toward the boundary line. Two Dockers – Brennan Cox and Cam McCarthy tracked him and applied pressure. It resulted in both Cox and Marchbank spilling over the line as Cox tried to tackle, and both ended up on the artificial turf.
There was nothing in it… only it seems there was.
I’ve watched this back three times now – I cannot for the life of me find anything wrong with the action. The umpire called a push, which was intriguing given what occurred last week. The fact that it was near the boundary made me think that this umpire… not the bald-headed variety of flog, but one with a hair style, wanted to send a message that actions that could lead to a player hitting the fence were not on.
So looking back at the play, what else could Brennan Cox do? Should he have allowed Marchbank safe passage like he had some sort of trade deal with him to pass through his lands? Should he have pulled up and allowed him to wander out of bounds of his own volition? Or should he have allowed him to get a kick away?
If you answered none of the above, you’re a rational football fan, because that free kick was as soft as you can get in a battle that was ramping up, and up, and up. The boos raining down from the Fremantle fans were justified. It was a howler, and the umpire either was deliberately attempting to send a message, or completely guessed at that decision.
Screw it – I am going to record it off the TV and post it – what’s your decision, Mongrels?
THE CHARLIE INJURY
With Cripps already out of the side, the Blues were certainly lacking star power, and in a jarring collision with Ethan Hughes, the Blues lost their other big gun.
The news out of the rooms was better than expected, with a strained ligament looking like the most likely the diagnosis.
Now, I’ll just take off my doctor’s badge, because I really don’t know what I am talking about, but the fact they more or less cleared him of any ACL damage is the best news Carlton could’ve hoped for.
Great hit by Hughes, by the way. Completely fair, and really solid.
Oh man, I feel horrible leaving Fyfe out of the ‘good’ section, but this is a Carlton night… let the Blues have their party. Fyfe was amazing in the air. He went where angels fear to tread at times and when in full flight, might just be the best player in the competition. If not that, then the best player in the competition to watch.
Watch The Mongrel's Facebook Page in the next couple of days – I’m going to be posting a poll on who the best overhead mark amongst midfielders. I think Fyfe will feature pretty heavily.
Paddy Dow – he’s gone backwards this year, hasn’t he, Blues fans? You can tell me. It’s okay. I was expecting him to make great strides this season, but he looks a bit lost out there at times; like a player struggling to find where he fits on this team.
Griffin Logue…sounds like a character from a fantasy novel. He’d be a ranger… but not a good one. I don’t trust his kicking at all, and you know, as a ranger, he may have to kick something at some point… maybe.
I thought Liam Jones was more than serviceable in his first game back – took some really nice intercept marks.
I don’t know who was on Michael Walters in the first quarter, but I reckon that person deserves a kick in the ass. How can you leave a player like him open so often?
Plenty of footy for Sam Walsh again, and I don’t think I’ve seen a young bloke cover the ground as well as him in his first year. He is so clean, but people will point to his disposal efficiency as a problem. I reckon that will come along just fine. What I’d like to see is him breaking lines and taking the game on, but I am not sure he’ll be that kind of player.
Really poor forward craft by the Dockers after quarter time, reverting to the Hawthorn style of “hit and hope”, and hasn’t that worked for them this season? Kicking the ball long and high to Walters in two-on-one situation is rarely going to work. But keep trying it… if you don’t want to play finals.
Kreuzer dropping the shoulder into Fyfe’s chest… loved it. Would like to see it happen more – not to Fyfe, more just big guys making their presence felt.
Loved Langdon’s gutsy mark in the third quarter, but by god that man can waste the footy. Usually he provides some quality delivery, but it was as though he was wearing his boots on the wrong feet in this game. Wayward kicking.
Some flashes by Matt Kennedy tonight. The former number 13 pick needs to string some games together now, stop being a potential midfielder that can help Cripps, and start being the help he needs.
And that’ll do me. Loved this game. Great fight back by the Blues. They get Melbourne next week, who might have put the cue in the rack after their loss to Brisbane today. The Blues may smell some blood in the water here…
The Dockers get their second crack at West Coast, and the derby is always a must-watch for The Mongrel. Win there, and they make up for dropping this one.
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