|12 August (7.30pm)
|Won by 4 points
|M. Owies 2.1, C. Curnow, 2.0, S. Docherty 1.1, B. Acres 1.0, P. Cripps 1.0, T. De Koning 1.0, J. Martin 1.0, D. Cuningham 0.1, G. Hewett 0.1, Rushed 0.2.
|4 - Justin Power, 18 - Ray Chamberlain, 23 - Robert Findlay, 33 - Brent Wallace
|S. Docherty (calf)
Carlton has pipped Melbourne by four points in the Round 22 encounter in a hard-hitting, low-scoring affair at the MCG. Drawing comparisons to the corresponding game last year, the Blues were roped back in by the Dees in the dying stages and very nearly suffered a similar fate, only for Caleb Marchbank to get a finger to Christian Petracca's goalbound shot. It meant the Blues celebrated their eighth straight win, doing so in Sam Docherty's 150th Carlton game, despite being subbed out in the final term with a corked calf. It was a night where Carlton's leaders stood up, with George Hewett, Patrick Cripps and Nic Newman all outstanding in the spirited win.
As eyes around the country were on what was happening at Stadium Australia, Carlton showed it was up for a scrap of its own from the get go. The Blues surged the ball forward consistently, overwhelming the Dees with the pressure at the source and their shape behind the ball. Carlton was relentless attacking in forward waves, beating Melbourne at its own territory game to monopolise inside 50s 24-4. The only frustration in the Blues’ game was their inability to capitalise when going forward, either letting chances go in front of goal or narrowly missing targets. It was left to who else but Charlie Curnow to open proceedings from a goals perspective, while Brodie Kemp was crucial in the Blues locking the ball inside their forward half — the young defender had 11 disposals in the first term alone. Carlton’s pressure meant the ball was either locked in or being intercepted, setting up a top where it nearly kept its opposition before a late Melbourne goal: crucially, this meant it was only a three-point lead at the first change, despite the Blues’ dominance in general play.
After the Blues failed to capitalise on their territorial dominance in the first quarter, things looked to be going sour for them, with the Demons rejuvenated after the quarter-time break. When Melbourne kicked the opening two goals of the quarter, giving it a nine-point lead, Carlton was under pressure to respond — just as it has done in recent months, the team did exactly that. Crisp ball movement from the back half ended with Ollie Hollands hitting up Jack Martin, breaking the Blues’ goal drought after a number of missed chances. That released the shackles for the Blues, who started to get to work around the ball once more and generate more scoring opportunities in a genuine arm wrestle. Continuing his strong form of recent months, Blake Acres showed why he’s quickly earned the respect of teammates and supporters alike with an overhead mark and goal to give the Blues the lead back heading into the major break. It was a fight, and George Hewett relished that it was, starring in the first half with 16 disposals and 10 contested possessions.
Just as they did in the first term, the Blues’ came out full of vigour, with captain Patrick Cripps leading the charge: on a night where he entered the top five for games played as Carlton skipper, a tackle on Clayton Oliver led to the first goal of the half. It sparked the Blues in the first half of the term, adding majors through Matthew Owies - who was assisted expertly by Charlie Curnow - and Sam Docherty in his 150th Carlton game. It opened up a game-high lead, but all that did was provide the impetus for Melbourne to fight back— as was the theme of the night. The Dees threw plenty of punches, and the Blues had to wear the hits in the second half of the term, under serious heat from a surging Melbourne unit. It was late in the quarter when the Blues relinquished the lead, with squares level at the final change.
The Blues had been here before against the Dees in Round 22. After opening up a three-goal lead in the final term, with Owies opportunistic, De Koning imposing and Curnow classy, the story of the third quarter once again emerged. Just as was the case in the corresponding game last year between the two sides, Melbourne surged at Carlton, who desperately had to cling on to the lead it had built up. Nic Newman - as he has been all season - was herculean over the course of the night and in the last term, collecting 12 touches, while Adam Saad aggressively pressing in the face of the opposition gave the Blues an opportunity to win the ball back. It looked like there’d be a repeat of last year’s efforts in front of an MCG crowd that had been through an emotional rollercoaster: Christian Petracca’s long shot from outside 50 looked goalbound, but the umpire deemed the slimmest of touches off Caleb Marchbank’s hand thwarted a sequel. There was no case of deja Blue this time around.
Best: G. Hewett, P. Cripps, N. Newman, J. Weitering, A. Saad, B. Acres, B. Kemp.
Three things we learned.
1. Character. The Blues showed it in spades. Finding themselves in the exact same position as 12 months ago, Carlton’s players could’ve gone in their shells in the final term. What ended up happening, however, was as spirited a Navy Blue win in a long time. The Blues did so by keeping the Dees to just eight goals: they averaged over 100 points in their last five wins coming into Round 22.
2. Against Melbourne’s star-studded midfield, the question was who would step up. Among a number of others, there was one who stood out: George Hewett. The former Swan was simply brilliant at the home of football, throwing his weight around with reckless abandon while also winning the ball at the source. Ending the night with 33 disposals, 23 contested possessions and eight clearances, there were few - if any - better on the night.
3. He was named in the 22under22 squad this week, and Brodie Kemp did his chances of selection in the team no harm on Saturday night. One of only two Blues to record 10 intercept possessions, Kemp started the game as he meant to go on, setting up his performance with an outstanding opening term. He was a shining light the last time these two sides met earlier in the year, but this time around, he was one of the Blues’ most important contributors behind the ball.
Carlton may have left its run a week too late
It's hard to fault a side that notched its eighth win in a row when it downed Melbourne on Saturday night, but if Carlton had kicked straight against Essendon in round 13 it might be nine on the trot and a top-four spot would be on the cards. The Blues are the form team of the competition and, with games to come against Gold Coast away and GWS at Marvel, they could well enter September on a 10-win streak. But there's scant finals experience in the Blues line-up and the double chance would have proven priceless given history tells us teams that finish outside the top four find it tough to win the flag. A top-four spot would arguably have Carlton as flag favourites right now, but it'll be a big mountain to climb from the bottom half of the eight. – Howard Kimber
A Heavyweight battle.
Both Carlton and Melbourne pulled no punches in a pulsating Round 22 clash at the MCG . . . and not for the first time. However, on this occasion, it was the Blues who emerged victorious. In a tough, contested, "finals-like" game, the Blues held on by the skin of their teeth against a surging Demons outfit. Speaking after the game, this is what AFL Senior Coach Michael Voss had to say.
On the result:
“It was pretty big. “I don’t know how to express it really: we were holding on for a period of time late in the game. Moments win you those games, and we had a couple go our way. It was a great result.”
On the calibre of recent wins:
“It’s got a bit better as we’ve gone on. I thought Collingwood was alright, St Kilda was pretty good, but that one was the best of them all. “We’re winning in different ways, we’ve shown a great adaptability across the year. We’ve had lots of questions asked of us, but we’re showing that resilience and grit. We were able to put that into the way we were playing: you can see the boys have got some real hunger and desire right now and are really clear on what’s needed. “I felt it was a fantastic performance in what was a finals-like game, where we had front-half dominance and clearances, they had some front-half dominance and clearances. It was back and forth for four quarters, and both teams didn’t relent.”
On the final play from Caleb Marchbank:
“It was a lucky rotation. We put our strategy in place for him to get that finger-tipper right at the end! “I was sitting there sitting ‘Please don’t overrule this, you can’t lose this way’. Thankfully, the call went our way and we were able to hold on. I’ve spoken to him and he says that he did: at this point in time, it doesn’t matter to me. We’ll take the four points and walk away.”
On comparisons to the same game last year:
“We’ve had moments throughout the last 18 months where we’ve learnt a lot about ourselves, and that’s one moment that we’ve gone to work on. But what we’ve also done is we haven’t looked back. We’ve got on with things. “That stuff has sat in the background and we’ve gone on with trying to find out what our best version is. That’s been a challenge. “It hasn’t been about the opposition that we’ve played, it’s just been about how we get better ourselves. The guys have gone after that. It hasn’t been about the opposition, it’s about how we can get ourselves better and find our best version.”
On not capitalising on first-quarter territorial dominance:
“We had to stick to process. We had to tidy up a couple of things, because they went end to end too easily at times. As a coach, you’ve got to say that the outcome isn’t around the scoreboard, but the process we’re doing is going well. “They were putting numbers back, and we don’t get to choose that: we had to work our way through it, and thankfully the boys were able to work on that. We got a couple of early rewards in the third quarter by persisting by what our method needed to look like, and by the fourth quarter, we got a little bit of a gap that they almost dragged back. “It was two heavyweights going at it for 12 rounds and we won on points.”
On embracing the defensive nature of the game:
“At half time, I said ‘if we need to win this 44-41, that’s the way we’re going to win it’. If they defend, we defend harder. If that’s what it takes, if that’s what’s needed, then that’s what we need to be able to live in. “We’ve had to be able to learn how to play that way and value it and put pride in that’s the outcome we’re after. We’ve stayed present to that, and we’re getting some results.”
On staying present rather than looking back:
“I haven’t taken moments to look back. There’s a time when we were doing that, and look at that as a way to say ‘what’s next for us?’ and ‘how do we continue to improve?’. Now, we’re about staying present, staying to each other and what’s coming next. “The job is not done, our job is not done. We still feel like we’ve got more to give and there’s still more season to play out, there are still no guarantees. We’ve got to keep earning the right. “It’s a tough message to give the team after we’ve just won like that: we’ll acknowledge this win - a very good win - but we’ll review it the same way, get into Tuesday and move on quickly to the next opponent. I think we’ve done that pretty well.”
On refining the team’s own game:
“The opponent hasn’t been the focus. Every opponent has their own constraints, their own threats that they bring to the game that we need to be able to manage. It’s been about us trying to get our game going and reinforce the roles we need, having a next-man-up mentality. “We’ve had some guys play some really significant roles for us, and they’ve been game changers for us: we’ll continue to reinforce those and live in that space. “It’s not so much about what we’ve got next, but how we get better and how we can keep bringing the best version of us. If we keep doing that, we feel we can match it with some pretty good sides.”
Passing of former Blue:
Carlton wore black armbands out of respect for ex-player Brian Walsh who had died on August 9.
|23 Jacob Weitering
|17 Brodie Kemp
|24 Nic Newman
|25 Zac Fisher
|39 Alex Cincotta
|42 Adam Saad
|14 Ollie Hollands
|9 Patrick Cripps (c)
|13 Blake Acres
|3 Jesse Motlop
|8 Lachie Fogarty
|46 Matthew Cottrell
|30 Charlie Curnow
|12 Tom De Koning
|21 Jack Martin
|27 Marc Pittonet
|29 George Hewett
|15 Sam Docherty
|2 Paddy Dow
|22 Caleb Marchbank
|28 David Cuningham
|44 Matt Owies
|35 Ed Curnow
|36 Josh Honey
|37 Jordan Boyd
|38 Sam Durdin
In: No Change
Out: No Change
Substitute: Ed Curnow (replaced Sam Docherty in 4th Quarter).
50 Goals: Matt Owies
Matt Owies became the fourth Carlton player to notch 20 goals for the season — the first time the Blues have accomplished the feat in a decade.
2. Carlton wins vs teams sitting top 2 on the ladder, 3 times in the last 29 days, it was 3 times in the 4025 days before that.
3. Winning streaks: Our 8th win in a row; our first such run since 2000 when we won 13
4. Tom De Koning had a career-high 14 contested possessions in this game.
5. Matt Kennedy had a career-high 27 kicks in this game.
6. George Hewett had a career-high 16 kicks.
7. Jesse Motlop had a career-high 12 uncontested possessions.
George Hewett (CARL)
7 - Patrick Cripps (CARL)
7 - Nic Newman (CARL)
3 - Jack Viney (MELB)
2 - Angus Brayshaw (MELB)
1 - Christian Petracca (MELB)
1 - Jacob Weitering (CARL)
Patrick Cripps (CARL)
2 - Blake Acres (CARL)
1 - Jack Viney (MELB)
Round 21 | Round 23