The Swans hosted a resurgent Carlton team at the SCG. The Blues welcomed back Cripps after missing two weeks with a foot problem, whilst Sydney were still without Lance Franklin. However, at home and with a slim chance of finals action up for grabs, many expected the Swans to be able to account for the Blues.
It was Levi Casboult who opened the scoring at the four-minute mark after marking strongly 25m out. From there it was a hard-fought scrappy first quarter with blustery conditions causing disposal efficiency. After trading blows, scores were level at quarter time at 2.5 (17) apiece. Luke Parker was the dominant player on the ground with 12 possessions.
The first half of the second quarter was all Carlton. The Blues scored the first three goals in the first 13 minutes to open up a 17 point lead with goals to Fisher, Lang and Gibbons. The Swans fought back to gain ascendancy but wayward kicking meant they were unable to capitalise, leaving them to only score 1.5 for the quarter. At half time the Blues held a ten point lead, 5.8 (38) to 3.10 (28). Ed Curnow had gone to Luke Parker to keep him to just four possessions for the quarter as he continues to have one of the more underrated seasons in recent memory.
Curnow led the Blues with 19 possessions and Cripps followed with 18 as Carlton's leading possession getters, while Parker with 16 had the most for Sydney. Carlton were also well ahead in the clearance count in the first half.
After half time, the Swans came out hard and scored a goal through Rowbottom in the first minute. Sydney also began to win the clearances with a bit of grunt work from Josh Kennedy, and the athleticism of Aliir.
Kennedy was damaging, rarely putting a foot wrong with his disposals, and his attack on the man with the ball was ferocious. Zak Jones' run was beginning to create a problem as well. When the Swans goaled again at the 15-minute mark through Papley, they trailed by just one point and the walls could have very well closed in on Carlton
In the past, you could argue they would have. The Blues may have capitulated as the Swans got a run-on. However, from there it was more of a ground battle with many stoppages and scoring proving to be very difficult. Hewett moved to Cripps and quelled his influence on the game keeping him to just four possessions in the third. Late in the quarter, with the Blues seemingly battling to hold on, a goal to Marc Murphy gave his team a three-quarter time lead of seven points. The score was 6.13 (49) to 5.12 (42). Both sides kicked poorly for goal in what were very difficult conditions.
The Blues dominated out of the middle early in the last quarter. Cripps, Murphy and Curnow were hard to stop and by the three-minute mark, the Blues had opened up a 19-point lead with goals to Casboult and the improving Silvagni.
The Swans were never going to lay down. With the game slipping away, they lifted their work rate, and by the 18 minute mark had reduced the margin to seven points once again. That lead would've evaporated altogether had it not been for a resolute defensive effort by the Blues, spearheaded by former Swan Nic Newman, who seemed to constantly be in the right place at the right time. He had 32 touches for the contest at 87% efficiency, driving the Blues out of trouble countless times in a best afield effort.
Still, there was plenty of time for the Swans to get the win, but when Harry McKay kicked Carlton's ninth goal with six minutes left, the task became almost insurmountable. In the end it proved too much. A late goal to Lloyd brought them back to within seven points, which was to be the final margin.
The Blues face the Gold Coast Suns at Marvel Stadium next week, and with their form improving under interim coach David Teague, Carlton fans may dare to dream about winning two in a row! If the season for the Swans wasn't already gone, it certainly is now. But as a proud club that they are, I'm sure they won't lie down, and when they face the Dockers in Perth next week they have every right to go in believing they're in with a real chance. Jake Lloyd finished with a game high 34 possessions, while Nic Newman had 32 and a staggering 13 marks. Murphy had 29 and Cripps, Walsh, and Curnow all had 28 possessions in what was a good, even contribution by the Carlton midfield with Murphy clearly back where he belongs. Kennedy and Parker each finished with 23.
This game all but finished Sydney’s season. They now sit in 14th place on the ladder with just six wins, and face Freo next week.
There are many questions that stem from this game.
Can the Blues knock over a few more teams on the run home?
Where to now for the Swans - retool or rebuild?
Does Jake Lloyd make All-Australian this season? 30.9 touches per game at 82% efficiency is hard to ignore.
Is Ed Curnow the best stopper in the game?
And if not, is it George Hewett?
Does Mitch McGovern get back into this Carlton side?
What’s gone on with Ben Ronke this season?
Is Aliir the perfect second ruck?
Hit us up with your answers.
Sydney - Lloyd, Kennedy, Heeney, Papley, Jones, Parker
Carlton - Newman, Murphy, Walsh, Cripps, Kreuzer, Casboult
Sydney - Heeney, Rowbottom, Papley, Reid, Jack, Parker, Dawson, Lloyd
Carlton - Casboult 2, McKay, Silvagni, Walsh, Gibbons, Murphy, Lang, Fisher
Nic Newman 3
Jake Lloyd 2
Marc Murphy 1
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