|Date:||Saturday night, August 24, 2013|
|Result:||Lost by 6 points|
|Goalkickers:||T. Menzel, C. Yarran (2), Z. Tuohy, L. Henderson, B. Gibbs, E. Betts, D. Armfield (1).|
|Umpires:||J. Mollison, M. Stevic, S. Stewart|
|Injuries:||Matthew Kreuzer (calf), Andrew Walker (gastro) replaced in selected side by Nick Duigan and Aaron Joseph. Brock McLean (quad)|
Game ReviewA week after their best win of the season over Richmond, Carlton fans were devastated when Essendon beat the Blues in this Saturday night blockbuster at the MCG. After dominating play for much of the game to lead by as much as 20 points late in the third quarter, the glaring faults that had cost the Blues dearly earlier in the season - abysmal accuracy in front of goal, and an inability to cope with tall marking forwards – came back to haunt them with cruel effect. Despite a whopping nine more scoring shots, Carlton went down by a kick when Bomber forward David Zaharakis did what his opponents could not, and snapped a pressure goal with 20 seconds left on the clock to get his side home.
Making this loss all the harder to stomach for the Blues faithful was the fact that Essendon was mired deep in off-field turmoil. Only a few days beforehand, damning allegations of systematic illegal drug use at Windy Hill had been splashed across the media when the seventh-placed Bombers were charged by the AFL with bringing the game into disrepute. Facing heavy penalties (including probable suspension from the 2013 finals) Essendon coach James Hird had in turn lodged a Supreme Court writ denying the charges, and seeking an injunction against the AFL to prevent a hearing taking place.
Opinions differed as to whether a crisis of this magnitude would bind Essendon together, or split them apart. All that concerned Carlton supporters was that our faint finals hopes had suddenly been revived, and a victory over the now even more despised Bombers would be sweet indeed. Prospects improved on selection night too, when Matthew Kreuzer was welcomed back into the side at the expense of Josh Bootsma. A few hours before the first bounce however, Kreuzer and Andrew Walker became late withdrawals, replaced by two of Carlton’s forgotten men; defenders Nick Duigan and Aaron Joseph. Nick Graham was named as the Blues’ substitute, before the teams ran out onto the MCG on a cool, ideal night for football.
Essendon skipper Jobe Watson was greeted by a swelling chorus of boos that persisted all night, preceding a Stewart Crameri goal after two minutes of play that got the Bombers away to an ideal start. During the next five minutes, Nick Duigan twice snapped at goal for the Blues but missed, before Lachie Henderson kicked long to Troy Menzel, whose calm set-shot from 30 metres split the middle for Carlton’s first major. Carlton had the best of the next ten minutes, as goals to Chris Yarran and Menzel were indispersed with misses by Eddie Betts, Henderson, Tom Bell and Heath Scotland. Nearing time-on, Brock McLean hobbled off with a serious thigh strain, meaning that second-gamer Graham was thrust into the action much earlier than expected. At quarter-time Carlton led by a point, but their score line of 3.9 told a tale of squandered opportunities.
During the second term, Essendon began to capitalise on their aerial advantage, although they too missed some very gettable chances. In the ruck, Robbie Warnock was shading all comers and providing clean opportunities for the Blues midfield, while Hurley was gaining confidence up forward for Essendon, and his strength in the air was a real factor in the Bombers’ narrow lead of 3 points at half-time.
For a brief period after the long break, Carlton fans were transported back to the halcyon days when the Navy Blues would decimate the opposition with a remorseless third quarter. Goals to Henderson, Yarran and Bryce Gibbs, along with misses by Menzel, Henderson, Betts and Kade Simpson propelled the Blues to a 20-point break with 15 minutes played. Again however, Essendon rallied, and after their small forward Alwyn Davey (who had been kept to just 4 possessions by Aaron Joseph) was subbed off, they traded goal for goal and hit for hit through to the three-quarter time siren. The Blues had again kicked poorly – adding 4.8 to 2.0 – yet still led by 17 points.
The last term opened with another soaring bomb from the 50-metre line by Zach Tuohy. From a similar position in the second quarter, he had steered it home – this time, it just missed. The Blues locked the ball into their attacking 50 for the next five minutes and should have capitalised – but Betts’ snap from deep in the pocket hit the post. Immediately, the Bombers swept forward and scored a point, before an awful kick-out landed the ball with their tall forward Myers, whose calmly-taken goal cut the margin to 11 points.
When Mitch Robinson gave away a 50-metre penalty that gifted Hurley with his third goal of the game, the margin was back to 5 points. The Bombers lifted, and a big mark and goal by Ryder put them back in front. Henderson then hit the post yet again for Carlton, and scores were level. At the 23-minute mark, after Hocking had soccered through a point to regain the lead for Essendon, the defining moment of the game arrived when Tuohy and Marc Murphy combined to get the ball to Gibbs, who marked 45 metres out from goal almost dead in front.
However, instead of settling and taking his shot, Bryce immediately short-passed across the ground to Yarran, who was slightly closer to goal, on a tighter angle. Yet again, Yarran’s kick drifted wide to bring up Carlton’s 22nd behind of the match, and the scores were locked together once more. From that moment, a pall of inevitability settled on the throngs of the Carlton faithful, and it was justified when Zaharakis pounced on a loose ball and kicked the clincher inside the last minute of play.
The hollow feeling after this defeat will linger for many a day. Sadly, it will also overshadow one of the great games of Kade Simpson’s illustrious career. In gathering 33 possessions, 5 marks and 9 rebounds from defence, ‘Slimmo’ yet again led by example. If half of his team-mates had had half his tenacity and a quarter of his courage, the result would surely have been quite different.
Subs: Nick Graham replaced Brock McLean during the first quarter.
|B:||40 Michael Jamison||30 Jarrad Waite||26 Andrew McInnes|
|HB:||6 Kade Simpson (VC)||42 Zach Tuohy||45 Aaron Joseph|
|C:||3 Marc Murphy (Captain)||14 Brock McLean||35 Ed Curnow|
|HF:||13 Chris Yarran||23 Lachlan Henderson||27 Dennis Armfield|
|F:||2 Troy Menzel||41 Levi Casboult||19 Eddie Betts|
|Ruck:||11 Robert Warnock||4 Bryce Gibbs||12 Mitch Robinson|
|Interchange:||28 Tom Bell||29 Heath Scotland||34 Nick Duigan|
|Substitute:||32 Nicholas Graham|
|Emergencies:||46 David Ellard||8 Matthew Kreuzer||1 Andrew Walker|
-*Matthew Kreuzer (calf), Andrew Walker (gastro) replaced in selected side by Nick Duigan and Aaron Joseph,
MilestonesLast game: Aaron Joseph
Interesting Fact: Carlton wore black arm bands to respect the recent passing of dual premiership player and best and fairest winner Jim Clark
Brownlow Votes3. Kade Simpson, Carlton
2. Jobe Watson, Essendon
1. Michael Hurley, Essendon
Best & Fairest VotesKade Simpson 8, Ed Curnow 6, Tom Bell 4, Michael Jamison 4, Chris Yarran 4, Zach Tuohy 3, Robert Warnock 3, Andrew McInnes 2, Troy Menzel 1, Marc Murphy 1
|8||Port Adelaide||21||12||9||0||1948||1898||+0||L 1||102.63||48|
|11||North Melbourne||21||9||12||0||2182||1816||-1||L 1||120.15||36|
|13||West Coast||21||9||12||0||1995||2010||-2||L 2||99.25||36|
|14||Gold Coast||21||7||14||0||1772||2028||+0||L 2||87.38||28|
|15||Western Bulldogs||21||7||14||0||1819||2175||+0||L 1||83.63||28|
|16||St Kilda||21||4||17||0||1639||2079||+0||W 1||78.84||16|
Round 21 | Round 23