|Date:||Saturday, August 30, 2014|
|Goalkickers:||M. Watson 4, C. Yarran 2, T. Menzel 2, D. Armfield, T. Bell, J. Waite, K. Lucas, B. McLean, C. Wood 1.|
|Umpires:||J. Dalgleish, R. O'Gorman, S. Wenn|
Game ReviewWith less than a minute of play left in this see-sawing encounter on a perfect Saturday afternoon at the MCG, Carlton and Essendon were locked on 90 points apiece when Bryce Gibbs marked right on the Blues’ attacking 50-metre arc. Bryce’s kick for goal seemed good off his boot, but it felt a metre short, and the Bomber defence rushed it away to bring up the first draw of the 2014 season.
In a game remarkable for big momentum swings – each team led by five goals at various stages – Carlton tyro Matthew Watson revived his career, kicking four majors in a breakout performance. Veterans Chris Judd, Andrew Carrazzo and Brock McLean, along with big-hearted ruckman Cameron Wood controlled the midfield for long periods, while key defenders Michael Jamison and Sam Rowe finished off their impressive individual seasons with solid efforts.
After Carlton’s abysmal 103-point defeat by Port Adelaide in round 22, few pundits gave the Blues any chance of upsetting Essendon. In spite their ongoing legal disputes over allegations of systematic doping at Windy Hill, the Bombers were entrenched in the top eight and assured of a place in the finals. On the other hand, Carlton had only the club’s tarnished reputation to defend at the end of a truly bleak season. The Blues’ cause wasn’t helped either, by the late withdrawal of captain Marc Murphy, who hadn’t recovered from severe concussion suffered against Port Adelaide. Murphy’s absence saw the Blues start this match with four changes from the previous week - Nick Holman, Blaine Johnson and Nick Graham as well as Murphy came out, replaced by Watson, McLean, Dennis Armfield and late inclusion Patrick Cripps, who was named as the Blues substitute. In bright sunshine on a perfect Melbourne Saturday afternoon, the two teams ran out to a mixed reception from the crowd of more than 56,000, and the first quarter was a cracker.
Prior to his recall for this match, Watson had been groomed as a defender. However, he started forward in this match, and had an immediate impact when he won a free kick and goaled from 25 metres to draw first blood for the Blues. Essendon struck back with their only major of the term, before Carlton exerted real authority on the contest and slammed through the next five. With Judd, Gibbs, Carrazzo, Wood and Sam Docherty influential around the packs, Carlton skipped away to lead of 30 points at quarter-time, in one of the Blues’ best quarters of football for the year. Highlights for Carlton fans included Chris Yarran’s slashing 2-bounce run and goal after 18 minutes, and Watson’s classic left-foot snap from the boundary line deep in the left forward pocket – a brilliant kick that arrowed through for Matthew’s second.
Bomber coach Mark Thompson ripped into his team during the break, demanding that they lift, and they did. From the first bounce of the second term, Carlton’s defence was under constant pressure. Wave after wave of Bomber attacks swept into their forward 50, and their persistence was rewarded with three unanswered majors. At the 15-minute mark of the quarter, Essendon’s Joe Daniher added another two goals in two minutes, and suddenly the Bombers were in front. They kept their foot on the throttle, and at half-time they had snatched back the initiative by 14 points.
The third quarter turned in to an arm wrestle, as both sides tightened up and scoring became more difficult. Carlton chipped away at the deficit, and when Troy Menzel brought up his second goal of the term with a neat set-shot from deep in the left-forward pocket shortly before the three-quarter time siren, there was only seven points in it.
Armfield was subbed out of the game at the last break, allowing Cripps to savour the atmosphere of his third senior match. Early on, McLean fired up the Carlton crowd when he ran on to a perfect handpass from Judd, and kicked truly to get the Blues back to within one point. Essendon quickly replied, but McLean bobbed up again, and his pass to Watson produced the big number 10’s fourth major. Fourteen minutes in, Wood won the ball in the middle of a pack. Somehow, he snapped a crucial goal over his shoulder, and put Carlton ahead by 5 points. Essendon responded once more, then Zach Tuohy just missed with a set shot from 45 metres to level the scores with 26.45 on the clock. In the very next passage of play, Gibbs marked and missed as previously described, before the final siren sounded with the score all square.
So ended Carlton’s 2014 – a season that had begun amid confidence and optimism, but ended in mediocrity.
Subs: Patrick Crisp replaced Dennis Armfield at ¾ time.
|B:||6 Kade Simpson (A/C)||40 Michael Jamison (DVC)||17 Sam Rowe|
|HB:||13 Chris Yarran||42 Zach Tuohy||43 Simon White|
|C:||35 Ed Curnow||5 Chris Judd||15 Sam Docherty|
|HF:||2 Troy Menzel||30 Jarrad Waite||27 Dennis Armfield|
|F:||10 Matthew Watson||41 Levi Casboult||28 Tom Bell|
|Ruck:||36 Cameron Wood||4 Bryce Gibbs||44 Andrew Carrazzo (VC)|
|Interchange:||9 Kane Lucas||14 Brock McLean||47 Ciaran ‘Gus’ Sheehan|
|Substitute:||16 Patrick Cripps|
|Emergencies:||3 Marc Murphy (Captain)||20 Nick Holman||45 Blaine Johnson|
*- Patrick Cripps replaced Marc Murphy in the selected side
MilestonesLast Game: Jarrad Waite, Brock McLean and Kane Lucas
Interesting Fact: With his 4 goals in this game, Matthew Watson tripled his career tally - to 6 majors!
Interesting Fact: This would be Ciaran Sheehan's last game for almost 3 years, and in the Guernsey #47
Brownlow Votes3. Chris Judd, Carlton
2. Brock McLean, Carlton
1. Patrick Ryder, Essendon
Best & Fairest VotesChris Judd 10, Brock McLean 10, Matthew Watson 6, Bryce Gibbs 5, Ciaran ‘Gus’ Sheehan 5, Simon White 5, Sam Docherty 4, Michael Jamison 4, Zach Tuohy 4, Sam Rowe 1, Chris Yarran 1,
Round 22| 2015