AFL Round 18: Blues do enough to win but still have work to do

North Melbourne V Carlton

By Steve Healy

It was Friday. I had been home from school sick today, and was eagerly waiting for the arrival of this game come 7:40, or in this case 8:40. There was something special about the game. Adam Simpson’s farewell, playing his 306th and last game in the blue-and-white stripes. He would be equal 2nd, along with Wayne Schimmelbusch. Former Melbourne champ David Neitz also played 306 games. I was quite surprised to hear that Simpson retired earlier in the week, he had been a player who has been playing for nearly my whole life. He was also in great form, collecting 34 possessions this week. He had only had two tackle-less games since 2005. There was plenty of good to say about him.

After having take-away Indian food for dinner, I settled on to the couch to watch what hopefully would be a good game between the spirited Kangaroos and the finals-searching Blues. There was a bit of question over Simmo’s fitness, having torn his calf muscle on Thursday but still having the guts to go out there and play.

Simpson went out to toss the coin and won it and decided to kick to the Lockett end. The game starts and Carlton explode through the centre. Their players link up beautifully but Nick Stevens can’t finish it off. The ball quickly goes down the other end but Corey Jones misses a simple set shot. Mitch Robinson marks just outside 50 for the Blues but the ball is taken off him because of Fevola was nearly choking North Melbourne’s Thompson. The Roos make them pay. Greenwood dispossesses Judd which sees Lindsay Thomas get on the end of a kick. He puts the first goal of the game on the board. Gibbs answers at the other end to level the scores. The game continues to be tight. Fevola hits the post on an easy kick before Petrie squeezes one through to put North in front. Stevens gets a goal at the other end for the Blues but it’s almost accidental, he having just gotten his toe to the ball. Marc Murphy immediately kicks another with a great goal on the run. Fevola just misses but it looks like the Blues are edging ahead. Harding kicks one for the Roos, and at quarter time both teams were dead level at 3.4 22 apiece.

The Roos would have thought back to Round 1 when they were level with the Demons, 3.3 21 apiece. I was surprised to see that there were only 149 possessions in the first quarter, 75 to North and 74 to Carlton. Leading on the ground was Brent Harvey with nine possessions and the man of the moment Adam Simpson just had four.

The umpire holds the ball aloft and bounces to start the second quarter. The game becomes more slow and rebounding more from 50 to 50. Five minutes in and Swallow marks at 50 and lines up to put the Roos in front. Swallow was in a heart-breaking spot for Melbourne supporters, even though it’s a different (and worse) ground it’s still where he kicked the goal that put North in front by 1-point in Round 9 2007. Nathan Carroll touched it by the way. Swallow’s kick falls short and is punched through for a behind which puts a smile on my face. Carlton hit the lead when the big Irishman O’hAilpin soccers one through. North Melbourne misses a couple of chances before Harding marks and kicks his second. The next time he gets the ball he hobbles off with an injury, to the dismay of the North Melbourne crowd. Liam Anthony takes the kick but misses to the near side. At the end of the quarter the Roos are in control, leading 7.9 51 to 6.4 40. Inaccuracy could have put them further in front, but the Blues still managed to just hang on. Fevola got his first with a talented soccer off the ground. Liam Anthony led all comers on the ground with 17 possessions. It was half time and I decided to celebrate with kicking a brilliant goal in the lounge room (with a soft footy).

North Melbourne get the first of the quarter from Petrie. Carlton slowly come back through goals through Murphy, Gibbs, Thornton and Fevola. Bret Thornton kicked just his third goal of his career in 147 games. The Roos answer pretty much straight away with a goal from Swallow. Fevola kicks number three and Murphy also kicks his third to put the Blues nine points ahead. Lindsay Thomas thrives on the occasion and kicks his fourth. Thomas looks much better with his partner in crime, “Flash” Campbell back in the team after suffering an injury. Andrew Walker, (playing his first game of the season) hits the post just before the siren. It’s three quarter time and Carlton lead by just four points. North Melbourne did what Carlton did to the Lockett end in the third quarter, not kick a behind.

North Melbourne needed a big last quarter from all their players. It looked apparent at first, but they butchered their shots on goal. Big Todd “Goldy” Goldstein missed a crucial one but it only got worse from there. Thomas, Pratt and Anthony all missed as well but their within one solitary point. They could win the game with behinds. Eddie Betts hits the post at the other end from a questionable free kick and it looks like Carlton have the jitters in front of goal as well.

Fevola marks inside 50 and pops it over the top to Murphy who kicks the first goal of the quarter with seven and a half minutes gone. Murphy has a career-high four goals. McIntosh takes a great grab while the Carlton crowd are booing an umpire decision. McIntosh misses. Petrie misses. If Melbourne were misses this many, they may as well have just shouted to the crowd “WE’RE TANKING!” But I knew that this North Melbourne outfit wouldn’t give up, they still had some “Shinboner spirit” left in them. Lachie Hansen kicked it out on the full and Harvey snapped one from a tight angle which missed. It was a handy point though. Carrazzo misses at the other end. The pressure is really getting to the players now. Thornton kicks his fourth of his career to put the Blues two goals in front. Jones kicks one at the other end which appears to be a goal but bounces awkwardly to the right and hits the woodwork. It still wasn’t over. Goldstein has the last say for North Melbourne (another behind) and the Blues win by 10-points, 11.18 84 to 14.10 94. Simpson’s career is at an emotional end. No wonder Adam Simpson is an anagram of: “Sadism Amp on”.

What a great game. The Blues are now near certainties for the finals but still have some work to do. But more importantly, when was the last time a team kicked 0.9 in a quarter? I’ll have to look that up.

North Melbourne  3.4 7.9 11.9 11.18 (84)

Carlton     3.4  6.4  12.7  14.10 (94)

Goals

North Melbourne: Thomas 4, Harding 2, Petrie 2, McIntosh, Hansen, Swallow.

Carlton: Murphy 4, Fevola 3, Gibbs 2, Stevens 2, Thornton 2, O’hAilpin.

Best

North Melbourne: Harvey, Anthony, Petrie, McIntosh, Rawlings, Thomas, Simpson.

Carlton: Murphy, Fevola, Gibbs, Stevens, Thornton, Houlihan, Judd.

My Votes: 3. Marc Murphy (Carl), 2. Brent Harvey (NM), 1. Liam Anthony (NM).

Umpires: McBurney, Rosebury, H Ryan.                     Crowd: 38,554 at Etihad Stadium.

About Steve Healy

Steve Healy is an entity of a Melbourne supporter.

Comments

  1. Damian Watson says:

    Great Work Steve,

    Loved the stats!

    You and Gigs should team up and run Champion Data.

    Damo

  2. Steve Healy says:

    Thanks Damo,

    I wish I ran Champion Data.

    Sometimes I put stats in without realising it.

    Steve

  3. Josh Barnstable says:

    You would have to compete against me Steve for running Champion Data.

  4. Steve Healy says:

    Oooo it’s on now Josh. Hahah just kidding.

  5. Josh Barnstable says:

    Nah you’ve said it, its on like Donkey Kong. I’d like to challenge you to some AFL history and stats if we meet up like at the book launch or something.

  6. Steve Healy says:

    Fine. It’s on.

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