|Date: Friday 7 August (N)||Result: Win by 35 points|
|Umpires: James, McInerney, Stevic||Crowd: 55,057|
|Goalkickers: B. Fevola 4, K. Simpson 3, M. Murphy 2, R. Houlihan, A. Joseph, N. Stevens, M. Kreuzer, H. Scotland 1.|
|Reports: Nil||Injuries: Nil||Ladder Position: Sixth|
On the previous Thursday night the Carlton selection committee had given the round 18 squad a little vote of confidence by making no change. Of course, things aren’t always what they seem, and sure enough, there was a late withdrawal. No, it wasn’t Michael Jamison going for four on the trot. It was Mark Austin who failed to come up, and the timeless Simon Wiggins got the thumbs-up for his ninth appearance of 2009.
The game started in much the same way as many of Carlton's recent attempts against the Cats had, with Carlton two goals down after four minutes. But then something strange happened. The defence tightened, the Blues steadied and the ball landed in Carlton hands more often. The difference seemed to come from a lift in intensity all over the ground; more aggression, more tackling, more chase and more commitment.
Not until the twelfth minute did the Blues get some scoreboard reward for all that scrap and hustle. It took a little bit of Brendan Fevola magic, with a lovely goal-line grab (from a Kade Simpson bomb) followed by a cheeky put away, to get the beast in motion. As the quarter rolled on, the Cats stayed chained to two goals and the Blues seemed to grow in confidence. Then just as the time-keeper was putting down his tea and reaching towards the siren-button Marc Murphy slotted a set shot from straight in front to edge the Blues’ lead out to seven points. Marc got the customary 17 enthusiastic head-pats as the team jogged to the huddle with a real spring in their step.
Getting a gig in Carlton’s back six in recent times had been akin to drawing the short straw. Sure, you saw plenty of the pill, but it certainly wasn't good for your blood pressure. This night they held firm, perhaps aided by more pressure up-field, and a Geelong forward line looking a little flat. Nonetheless, the Blues' backs delivered. They kept the Cats goalless from the four minute mark of the first quarter until the nine minute mark of the second quarter - which is no mean feat.
Bret Thornton had spent most of his career in that back six, seeing a lot more losses than wins during that time. His performance against the Cats was one of composure, efficiency, leadership and wonderful reading of the game. Thornton was ably assisted by Jordan Russell in possibly the best of his 66 games. Russell put the clamps on Geelong’s forward-line wizard Steve Johnson, and did some creating of his own to boot. In the process he delivered on a little of the expectation many supporters have placed so heavily on his shoulders.
After the Cats goal drought finally broke the teams traded goals until late in the quarter when Matthew Kreuzer produced one of the highlights of the match. From a throw-in next to Carlton’s behind post, the two ruckmen (Shaun Hampson and Shane Mumford) misjudged the ball completely, but not our Matthew. Playing like a fleet-footed midfielder, he grabbed the ball on the bounce and slammed it onto his boot as all around him defender's arms flailed. When Ryan Houlihan slotted a set shot from right on 50 metres a couple of minutes later, the Blues were two goals clear and getting on top.
Carlton was unable to press home their advantage during the third term, but the signs were good, with the midfield working well, the forwards getting their share of opportunities. Chris Judd, Bryce Gibbs and Marc Murphy, as had been so often the case in this season, led the way from the midfield. Setanta O’hAilpin kept running and presenting, and offered a legitimate option playing across half-forward.
Brendan Fevola kept presenting too, and was rewarded for his efforts more often than not with some lovely delivery. Aside from some uncharacteristically wayward kicking at goal, his game was very well rounded. Fevola even showed that the defensive side of his game was still alive (rumours of its death being somewhat exaggerated) with a couple of wonderful of chases and tackles. Three goals to each team for the quarter and only a slight increase to the Blues half-time margin had the game poised for a big finish.
The big finale never really eventuated. The Blues jumped out of the blocks with a great crumbing goal, set up from an O’hAilpin contest, and finished with the dash of Kade Simpson (his third), continuing his run and carry right to the end. Midway through the term the lead extended to 23 points from the unlikely boot of Aaron Joseph. After getting under (over, on, around and inside) the skin of Gary Ablett for most the night, he broke away on his own and kicked a neat 'settler' from 50 metres.
It was left to Fevola to add the finishing touches with two late goals. The last one, probably his most difficult attempt for the evening, was a boundary line set-shot - a ripper that sailed through just as the siren was sounding. It was very much an icing-on-the-cake moment. The Cats failed to kick a major in the last, the margin stretching to a healthy 35 points at the end. By the close of the round, the win had enabled the Blues to take hold of sixth place on the ladder after most others around them had slipped. Suddenly, we dared to say it - finals anyone?
This game is remembered fondly by Carlton fans, and is considered one of our best wins in the home and away rounds of the 2000's. For more games like this, please click here.
|B:||34 Simon Wiggins||32 Bret Thornton||2 Jordan Russell|
|HB:||45 Aaron Joseph||18 Paul Bower||27 Dennis Armfield|
|C:||29 Heath Scotland||5 Chris Judd (c)||24 Nick Stevens (vc)|
|HF:||33 Ryan Houlihan||17 Setanta O’hAilpin||12 Mitch Robinson|
|F:||22 Shaun Hampson||25 Brendan Fevola||19 Eddie Betts|
|Ruck:||8 Matthew Kreuzer||4 Bryce Gibbs||3 Marc Murphy|
|Interchange:||1 Andrew Walker||6 Kade Simpson||10 Richard Hadley|
|44 Andrew Carrazzo|
|Emg:||28 Cameron Cloke, 16 Shaun Grigg, 21 Mark Austin|
- Wiggins replaced Austin in the selected side
Milestones100 Games (Carlton): Nick Stevens played his 100th Carlton game, becoming the 155th Blue to reach this milestone.
Losing streaks: Carlton ended Geelong's run of five wins over us with this fantastic win
Interesting Fact: This was our 11th win for the year; the first time we'd won more than 10 matches in a season since 2001.
Brownlow Votes3. Brendan Fevola, Carlton
2. Joel Selwood, Geelong
1. Chris Judd, Carlton
Best and Fairest Votes43 Chris Judd, 39 Bryce Gibbs, 39 Bret Thornton, 37 Brendan Fevola, 36 Jordan Russell, 36 Kade Simpson, 33 Aaron Joseph, 17 Marc Murphy, 11 Ryan Houlihan
Round 18 | Round 20