|Date:||Saturday August 31, 2013 (Twilight)|
|Result:||Won by 1 point|
|Goalkickers:||M. Murphy (3), J. Garlett, C. Yarran, E. Betts (2), K. Simpson, M. Kreuzer, B. Gibbs, E. Curnow, J. Waite, T. Bell (1).|
|Umpires:||S. Meredith, M. Nicholls, T. Pannell|
|Injuries:||H. Scotland (quad) replaced in selected side by N Duigan|
On the eve of this match, the often-quoted cliché that a week is a long time in football was never more apt. Having done everything possible to avoid playing on into September, the inconsistent (many would say unworthy) Blues had been handed a last-minute opportunity to snatch eighth spot on the ladder, after Essendon was sensationally disqualified from the finals. Concluding a murky tale of shady characters and illicit substances, the Bombers had been found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute, and heavily penalised.
Suddenly, five teams were jockeying for eighth place, with Carlton best-placed - provided they could beat the Power on their home turf. But Port, too, had plenty of incentive. Although they were sitting seventh and already assured of a finals berth, this was to be their last-ever game at AAMI Stadium - formerly Football Park – where they had won 13 of their record 36 SANFL Premierships. From 2014 they were relocating to the refurbished Adelaide Oval, and marked the occasion by playing one last time in their iconic black and white striped guernsey. That in itself created a problem, in that Carlton’s predominately white clash strip proved remarkably similar, especially from behind.
The Blues made four changes to the team that capitulated to Essendon in round 22, losing Brock McLean to a thigh strain, and axing Nick Duigan, Aaron Joseph and Nick Graham. Into the side came Andrew Walker, Matthew Kreuzer, Jeff Garlett and David Ellard, before Duigan earned a late reprieve and was named as Carlton’s substitute when Heath Scotland was ruled out on match day morning.
The football gods recognised the occasion and the teams ran out to a swelling roar from a packed house on a perfect early spring day when Port were switched on from the first bounce. They swarmed all over the football in the first 15 minutes, kicking the first three goals of the game. Carlton couldn’t get their hands on the football, and frustration led to some glaring mistakes until Dennis Armfield’s instinctive handpass to Kade Simpson brought up the Blues first major at the 15-minute mark. Bad misses by Yarran (twice) Levi Casboult and Troy Menzel in the latter stages of the term then had Carlton fans shaking their heads. Their befuddled team seemed headed down the same path as the previous week, when atrociously inaccurate kicking for goal had cost so dearly against Essendon. The visitors had only 1.5 on the board at quarter time, and trailed by 16 points.
In the first minute of the second quarter Bryce Gibbs streamed out of defence and kicked long to Eddie Betts, whose handball to Yarran brought up the Blues second major. Port responded with dash and daring, adding 4.6 to Carlton’s 2.2 for the quarter, and stretching the home side’s advantage to 32 points at the long break. Meanwhile, Michael Jamison appeared to be in real trouble with his ongoing shoulder problems, although he once again battled through the pain and stayed on the field.
Malthouse recast his side at half-time, substituting Duigan for Casboult and switching Lachie Henderson from defence into attack. Eddie Betts should have inspired his side with a brilliant individual goal two minutes into the third term - when he danced around an opponent deep in the right forward pocket, and threaded the ball through from the tightest of angles – but Carlton’s dumb play continued. After 15 minutes Port were up by 33 points when their key forward Justin Westhoff was allowed to stroll past a team-mate who had been awarded a free-kick, and drill the easiest of goals completely unopposed. No wonder then, that Mick Malthouse was ropeable at three-quarter time. One by one he berated his team, emphatically demanding that they lift and at the very least fight the game through.
The catalyst was provided by captain Marc Murphy, who until then had been tightly-held (in all respects) by Port’s ace tagger Kane Cornes. ‘Murph’ started the last quarter up forward, and goaled with a pressure kick from 40 metres out inside the first minute. Suddenly, Carlton were on a roll as the Three Amigos; Yarran, Betts and Jeff Garlett, began tearing holes in Port’s defence. The Blues added four goals in the first eight minutes of the quarter, and it was game on.
Two great tackles – the first by a wounded Jamison, the second by David Ellard - preceded another running captain’s goal by Murphy, then Tom Bell burst through a pack at half-forward and kicked long to the square. Jarrad Waite shepherded it through and incredibly, Carlton was in front for the first time in the match.
With five minutes remaining, Gibbs passed to Waite inside 50, and Jarrad coolly slotted his first to put the Blues 8 points up. Port weren’t spent however, and Schultz replied with a brilliant snap from deep in the pocket, cutting the margin to only two points with less than a minute remaining. In the dying seconds, Broadbent launched a long bomb from Port’s 50 metre arc, but it shaved the post - and the siren sounded with the Blues home by one precious, almost unbelievable point.
Like Carlton fans of the previous week, the Port Adelaide faithful streamed from Football Park for the last time in stunned disbelief that they could have lost after three dominant quarters. Outstanding for the Blues on an afternoon when some of the best - and the worst – of this team was on show were Gibbs, Walker, Murphy, Curnow, Betts, Yarran and Armfield, as Blues fans across the country eagerly anticipated an Elimination Final against old foes Richmond in the coming week.
Subs: Nick Duigan replaced Levi Casboult at half time
|B:||40 Michael Jamison||23 Lachlan Henderson||26 Andrew McInnes|
|HB:||6 Kade Simpson (VC)||42 Zach Tuohy||1 Andrew Walker|
|C:||13 Chris Yarran||35 Ed Curnow||4 Bryce Gibbs|
|HF:||38 Jeff Garlett||30 Jarrad Waite||19 Eddie Betts|
|F:||2 Troy Menzel||41 Levi Casboult||8 Matthew Kreuzer|
|Ruck:||11 Robert Warnock||28 Tom Bell||3 Marc Murphy (Captain)|
|Interchange:||12 Mitch Robinson||27 Dennis Armfield||46 David Ellard|
|Substitute:||34 Nick Duigan|
|Emergencies:||9 Kane Lucas||29 Heath Scotland||45 Aaron Joseph|
-* Nick Duigan replaced Heath Scotland in the selected side.
Interesting Fact: In the last six games between Carlton and Port Adelaide at Football Park - going back to Round 11, 2008, Carlton scored a combined 38.20 in the last quarter (43% of the Blues' total score, at an accuracy rate of 65.5%) to Port's 9.15 (14.59% of Port's total score, at an accuracy rate of 37.5%). No wonder then, that Port Adelaide won only one of these games.
Interesting Fact: The 32-point half-time margin would be Carlton's 8th greatest deficit comeback win, while the 29-point three-quarter time margin would be Carlton's 5th greatest deficit comeback.
Marc Murphy, Carlton
2. Brad Ebert, Port Adelaide
1. Kane Cornes, Port Adelaide
Bryce Gibbs 8, Andrew Walker 8, Eddie Betts 4, Ed Curnow 4, Chris Yarran 4, Marc Murphy 3, Robert Warnock 3
|8||Port Adelaide||22||12||10||0||2051||2002||+0||L 2||102.45||48|
|10||North Melbourne||22||10||12||0||2307||1930||+1||W 1||119.53||40|
|13||West Coas||22||9||13||0||2038||2139||+0||L 3||95.28||36|
|14||Gold Coast||22||8||14||0||1918||2091||+0||W 1||91.73||32|
|15||Western Bulldogs||22||8||14||0||1926||2262||+0||W 1||85.15||32|
|16||St Kilda||22||5||17||0||1751||2120||+0||W 2||82.59||20|
|18||GWS Giants||22||1||21||0||1524||2990||+0||L 4||50.97||4|
Round 22 | EF, 2013