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Carlton lost a heartbreaking, nailbiting, gutwrenching Semi to the Eagles at Subiaco by a mere 3 points.

Semi Final, 2011

Carlton 4.1 25 7.4 46 10.5 65 15.8 98
West Coast 1.3 9 9.3 57 11.8 74 15.11 101
Venue: Subiaco
Date: September 17, 2011
Result: Lost by 3 points
Crowd: 42,803
Goalkickers: Walker 3, Murphy 2, Ellard 2, Garlett 2, Betts, Thornton, Joseph, Scotland, Simpson, Tuohy 1.
Reports: TBD
Umpires: R. Chamberlain, B. Rosebury, M. Stevic
Injuries: Bret Thornton (concussion)
Ladder: TBD


Game Review

Carlton’s reward for thumping Essendon in last week’s elimination final was the dreaded trip west to take on the Eagles. The Blues, having already gone one week further into September than the previous two seasons, had the opportunity to avenge their round 14 loss to West Coast and advance to the preliminary final round where Geelong awaited. For the Eagles this season had been rags to riches. This time last year they’d already been nursing the wooden spoon for a couple of weeks, so no matter the result, whichever way you looked at their season it had been glowing.

Illustration: http://www.samcrook.com
There was only one change at the call of the card on Thursday evening, but it was a big one. Bryce Gibbs’ shoulder had been hammered into the MCG turf late in junk time of the elimination final. He’d risen gingerly and jogged off slowly with the shoulder at half mast, nursing that arm carefully with the other. It didn’t look good. It wasn’t. His miss was Zach Tuohy’s gain and his inclusion was the only change to the 22. Much mention was made of Matthew Kreuzer, Jarrad Waite and, to a lesser extent, Shaun Hampson (who’d dominated in the VFL) but sadly none of them would run out to face the Eagles; the Blues shorter (and lesser) for their absence.

If Blues fans were to be honest with themselves they really couldn’t have hoped for a better, more electric start than that which they received. Not only did those in charge of the Public Address System launch into the Carlton theme song instead of Advance Australia Fair pre-game, but the Blues absolutely exploded out of the blocks when the ball was finally bounced. Jeff Garlett got the opener inside the first 30 seconds when he swooped on the loose ball created from a deft Bret Thornton tap to slam through from just inside 50m. It was just the tonic to settle the nerves and silence the deafening home crowd. Thornton was involved again for the second as Eddie Betts extracted the pill from congestion like a cunning pick pocket before finding him alone in the square for the simplest of goals. Next David Ellard found Heath Scotland streaming goalward for the third during the ninth minute and it really was looking too good to be true. When Ellard received a free kick a short time later and finished truly from straight in front it was four goals to none and the Blues were 23 points clear. The Eagles finally answered to the relief of their crowd and slowly began the task of stabilising the patient. Mitch Robinson had continued on his stunning late season form and Marc Murphy had seen plenty of it, though his miss for Carlton’s only behind of the quarter was a bad one. In what had been a heavily over umpired first term the Blues took a 16 point lead to the break.

The Blues had a couple of opportunities early to extend their lead through Betts and Murphy both of whom missed, before a cool dose of reality set in. The Eagles engine, coughing and spluttering during the first term, ignited, started to fire and began to purr. A stunning four goal burst in less than five minutes eradicated the Carlton lead and all the precious momentum that was built during the first. The fourth in their run had come courtesy of a Marcus Davies brain fade after attempting to play the heavy man with Jack Darling and being penalised with a shot at goal from the square. Against the flow the Blues managed to level scores again with Murphy finally finding his kicking boots after receiving a bullet pass from the Selwood-bound Chris Judd. The Eagles responded almost instantly before Andrew Walker claimed his first after swooping on the crumbs and finishing beautifully around the corner on his left. The West Coast domination of the second term wasn’t finished as they piled on another three goals before Aaron Joseph finished superbly under immense pressure in the seconds before the half-time siren. Joseph’s crumbs had come from a huge pack that saw Thornton land heavily with his head making solid impact with the turf ending his night prematurely. Eight straight for the quarter to the Eagles had turned the game completely on its head and gave them an 11 point lead at the half.

It really wasn’t Juddy’s night. Just about every disposal was under duress and one of his first in the third term was no exception and as a result gifting the Eagles their first for the second half. West Coast continued to pressure the Carlton defence peppering shots at goal but four behinds were all they had to show for it. Betts broke the momentum with a beautifully judged contested mark and follow up goal to reduce the margin to nine points. The arm wrestle then begun. Kade Simpson got on his bike and started to exert more of his usual influence, while Robinson and Murphy were continuing to contribute heavily in the possession department. Walker finished accurately from about 40 in general play and then Simpson powered in to goal after receiving from Betts for the Blues third in succession to narrow the margin to three points. That mini-run ended when the Eagles responded through ex-Blue Josh Kennedy and the margin returned to nine points where it stayed at three quarter time.

The last quarter of the season for the loser and a prelim against the Cats for the winner, what further motivation required? It was to be a cracking last quarter. All 36 minutes of it full of hard, intense, contested footy with plenty of unexpected twists and turns along the way. The Eagles opened proceedings to extend their lead to 15 before substitute Zach Tuohy took all before him with a fantastic stretching mark from a kick in. He landed with poise and balance before taking off at pace and finishing wonderfully from 40 to make a mockery of his meagre AFL experience. As in any see-sawing battle the Eagles duly responded to put it back out to 15 points. Betts then ran down the usually unflappable Hurn to create the turnover that allowed Murphy to bounce through his second of the night from just inside 50.With it all to play for the Eagles stood tall and answered with two more to extend their lead to a seemingly unreachable 21 points in the 22nd minute. The Blues kept persisting, kept fighting, kept running and the goals came. Ellard got the first of the run finishing from close range after marking, subsequently being tackled and then receiving a 50m penalty. Then Garlett bobbed up, swooping on the kind bounce from the oval ball and timing his run to perfection into the open goal. Then in the 33rd minute Walker marked, ran straight back behind the mark, trotted in and slammed home his third as though he had not a care in the world. Inexplicably it was three points the difference and still with enough time left, though who knew? There were chances, Walker perhaps unlucky not to receive a free-kick when seemingly held off the ball at the top of the square, but to no avail. Another behind to each side saw the quarter out and Carlton’s season over by a mere three points. Once again in tantalisingly close, devastating fashion.

Subs: Substitute Zach Tuohy replaced Bret Thornton at half time.

Team


B: 13 Chris Yarran 40 Michael Jamison 31 Marcus Davies
HB: 34 Nick Duigan 23 Lachie Henderson 15 Jeremy Laidler
C: 6 Kade Simpson 5 Chris Judd (c) 27 Dennis Armfield
HF: 38 Jeffery Garlett 32 Bret Thornton 19 Eddie Betts
F:12 Mitch Robinson 17 Setanta Ó hAilpín 1 Andrew Walker
Ruck: 11 Robert Warnock 44 Andrew Carrazzo 3 Marc Murphy
Interchange: 29 Heath Scotland 45 Aaron Joseph 46 David Ellard
Substitute: 42 Zach Tuohy
Coach: Brett Ratten
Emg: 2 Jordan Russell, 18 Paul Bower, 23 Shaun Hampson


Best & Fairest Votes

Mitch Robinson 37, Jeremy Laidler 33, Marc Murphy 29, Andrew Carrazzo 18, Kade Simpson 13, Robert Warnock 13, Eddie Betts 8, Heath Scotland 4, Nick Duigan 3

The Year Overall

Game
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
Agst Rich G.Cst Coll
Ess
Adel Sydney St.Kilda BYE Geel Melb P.Adel
Bris
Sydney W.Cst
Posn
3
2
4
5
4
3
3
4
5
4
4
3
3
4
% 123.8 202.2
146.6
135.0 129.5 124.4 124.8 124.8 120.6 126.0 132.6 137.6 138.6 130.9
Game
15
16
17
18
19
20
:21::
22
23
24
EF
SF
PF GF
Agst Rich W.Bull Coll Ess N.Melb Melb Frem Haw BYE St.Kilda Ess W.Cst    
Posn
3
4
4
4
4
4
4
5
5
5
---- ---    
% 138.2 132.7 128.6 132.5 132.3 136.3 136.2 133.7 133.7 130.8 --- ---    


Milestones

Last Game (Carlton): Setanta Ó hAilpín
Season Performances: This was the first time since 1995 that we did not go below 5th place on the ladder throughout the year.


The Elimination Final | 2012

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