AFL Round 19: Carlton midfield too good for fancy Cats

It’s another miserable looking Friday weather-wise and I am preparing myself for another fairly mediocre performance from my Blues against the pacy, skilful and courageous Geelong side. On a lighter note I am fortunate enough to have the day off school with Curriculum Day and I take full advantage of a somewhat rare, relaxing day. My friends and I wander around Knox Shopping Centre and after quickly skimming through the new Danihers biography (which certainly looks impressive) we head off to the movies to view the film GI: Joe. As I watch the combatants battle it out on the cinema screen, I know the Blues will have to produce a similar amount of fighting spirit if they are going to earn the four points tonight.
Following the film and an evening on the training track in sluggish conditions, I am driven home and decide to not listen to the radio and opt to wait for Channel Seven’s delayed telecast of the match. It is then I think about how the Triple M broadcasters would treat the weekend after the death of one of their football broadcasters, Mike McLean, who passed away during the week after a long battle with illness. For an aspiring broadcaster like myself, it’s never encouraging to hear about the news of the death of a sport journalist.

As I wait for the game to commence I am delighted to hear that the dangerous match winner Paul Chapman is joining Matthew Scarlett on the sidelines. However my confidence levels are still at a minimum as the Blues’ recent performances have been well below par, first by copping a hiding from the arch enemy and then taking the game out unconvincingly against North last week.

The Cats have prevailed in gruelling contests in previous weeks and that is looking to be the case once again as the Geelong team burst out of the blocks, booting the opening two goals via set shots from Matthew Stokes and Cameron Mooney.

It looks set to be a long night but the Blues failed to give in, dominating the remainder of the term. Chris Judd led his Blues inspirationally, breaking free from his counterpart Cameron Ling’s clutches and spotting up targets with precision. The already decimated Geelong back-line are having problems keeping up with Brendan Fevola as his opponent Tom Lonergan fails to match the strength of the big Fev, who is continuing to pluck miraculous one-handers.

The goal kickers for the Blues are struggling with the blustery wind at the Punt Road end, hitting the woodwork on a couple of occasions and as a result booting an inaccurate 3.5 by the first change, but they’re still leading by seven points.

While viewing the coverage, I am surprised to see that 55,000 fans have ventured out to the MCG on such a cold and chilly night. Even Channel 7 boundary rider Tim Watson, who was known to revel in cold and wet conditions during his Essendon days, is heavily rugged up. My hopes are up but I am still afraid that the Cats are preparing to produce an onslaught in this second term.

It’s a case of de ja vu for this second quarter as the Cats once again slammed on the first two majors to snatch back the lead, one of those from Tom Harley, who ventured forward to kick a rare goal. Once again the Blues responded, booting four goals for the term and grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck. Defenders Bret Thornton and Jordan Russell were becoming warriors in the back-line, providing a contest and remaining calm while under pressure. Bryce Gibbs and Kade Simpson continued their stellar seasons, racking up plenty of disposals. The Carlton team certainly exposed the Cats’ weaknesses, placing immense pressure on their opponents and tackling at will. Suddenly I am beginning to believe that an upset is on the cards as the Blues lead by thirteen points at the main break.

The Carlton side looked very tense out on the ground in the third as we desperately tried to keep possession of the ball. The Geelong forwards continued to have a limited influence on the game, with Steve Johnson pinned in a tackle on many occasions while searching for the miraculous, and Cameron Mooney continuing to shank the ball while having a set shot from close range. Plenty of Blues continued to show promise with David Armfield showing some dash and confidence in his ability and Simon Wiggins, who had a magnificent 2008, showing glimpses of his best by taking strong contested marks. The Blues held firm as both sides scored onlythree goals each for the quarter. I was tempted to log on to the net and uncover the final score but I remained determined to stick it out as the Blues took an 11-point lead into the final change.

The Cats pressed early in the final term but failed to take their chances with, Mathew Stokes, who looked in some discomfort after coming off the ground with a calf injury, missing from just 10 metres out. When a Shannon Byrnes goal was disallowed from a dubious umpiring decision on the boundary line I realised that this was to be our night. Gary Ablett was having a luckless night, gaining only 24 disposals, and it is ironic that his tagger Aaron Joseph landed the killer blow when he booted a goal from outside 50 to seal Geelong’s third loss for the season and a much-awaited finals spot for the Blues.

Tonight would probably mark the end of two careers of players who’ve battled their way into the side but simply cannot keep up with the pace of the modern game. Nick Stevens is a fantastic kick of the football but is simply just too slow for the developing Carlton midfield, as he was heavily outrun by Jimmy Bartel. On the other side of the park, Kane Tenace, who was renowned as a talented player as he first came to the club in 2004, lacks the skills and polish in the centre of the ground and I would not be surprised if he is delisted at the end of the year.

Throughout the last 10 minutes the Blues maintained their intensity, winning the clearances and building up their already healthy percentage by slotting through four more goals to come out 35-point victors. Fev’s fourth on the siren from inside the boundary symbolised the events of the night and all of the Carlton faithful celebrated with the prospect of our first finals appearance for eight years.

The Cats have some soul searching to do but with a fit, full and hungry list come finals time it will be hard to see the Geelong team without a flag under their belt.

In 2001 I remember experiencing the ecstasy of victory as we smashed Adelaide in the Elimination Final at the ‘G and then the agony of defeat as we succumbed to a red-hot Richmond side the following week. It is nice to know I can once again experience the hype and emotion surrounding the finals series after almost a decade in the doldrums. The Carlton side is certainly coming!

Carlton     3.5    7.7    10.10 14.13 (97)
Geelong    2.4    5.6    8.11    8.14 (62)

GOALS
Carlton: Fevola 4, Simpson 3, Murphy 2, Houlihan, Joseph, Stevens, Kreuzer, Scotland
Geelong: Mooney 2, Stokes 2, Harley, Hogan, Rooke, Ling

Crowd: 55,057 at MCG

My Votes:  3, B.Gibbs     2, B.Thornton     1, A.Joseph.

About Damian Watson

Hey,my name is Damian Watson and I am 14 years old. My ambition is to become an AFL broadcaster/journalist in the future. I am a keen blues supporter and I live in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne. I play and write for the Knox Falcons U/16's.

Comments

  1. Josh Barnstable says:

    Tenace will be delisted for sure, but he will be picked up by another team, probably Essendon because they can always use more fast midfielders. I’m still surprised the Blues won, and i think the wheels are starting to fall off Geelong

  2. Danielle says:

    No offence Damian but…AS IF CARLTON WINS!
    argghhhh!!! like seriously i was so angry at Geelong!!! arrrghhhh

  3. I am hanging onto the theory this is our round 21 2007 game.

    Good game from Carlton, I think they’ll be the next big side after St Kilda this year, they’ve got a great blend of midfield, forwards and key backmen.

    As for my Cats they don’t look great at all, but we shouldn’t panic yet.

  4. Steve Healy says:

    Great write up Damian,

    Such a good performance from the Blues, Joseph is a great player. He has looked good ever since the NAB cup when he also tagged Ablett and limited his impact. He’s not a high possession getter, but all his possessions have impact. He reminds me of former Carlton player Anthony Franchina.

    It was Tom Harley’s first goal since the Preliminary final last year, and 12th of his career. I agree about Tenace he is just making up the numbers in the geelong side. Same with Tom Gillies. I think Geelong should bring Ryan Gamble back in, even though his last game was a shocker. Injuries to Wojcinski and Milburn won’t help either.

  5. I have to be honest, unless things turn around quickly I think it is time to panic. There are problems all over the field, and not just with personnel. The attitude and workrate of several “stars” at the moment leaves a lot to be desired. Steve Johnson has to realise he can’t beat three opponents every time he gets the ball, and Ablett needs to start working for the team again apart from himself. Apart from Joel Selwood and Corey Enright, I can’t think of too many players who performed with any credit at all.

    Tenace and Lonergan have got to go. I’m sorry but they simply aren’t up to standard. Lonergan’s comeback might be a great story, but you don’t get games at this level just on sympathy. Opposition teams certainly won’t show us any, so I don’t know why our selection committee does.

    Regarding Harley, to be fair I thought he was far from our worst. He’s had some poor games since coming back, but I didn’t think Friday night was one of them. I’m much more concerned about Stokes, Varcoe and Byrnes – they were all totally ineffectual yet again. If Mooney and Hawkins aren’t marking the ball (and they took around 15 between them so they weren’t horrendous) the defensive pressure was non-existent. Carlton took it out of our forward line at will.

    The bottom line is they simply aren’t working hard enough. It’s like we’re in 2006 again. On this form, there is no way they will get near a Grand Final, and we certainly are not in a position to win one.

  6. Great article, how did Carton win? It was a big fluke

  7. Josh Barnstable says:

    Mark: Lonergan kicked 40-odd goals in 2008, pretty good for a bloke after what happened to him. What has happened this year? Has he played a match in the forward line, the position he is at his best in? Cos i’ve only seen him in defence this year and he has struggled. Drop Mooney, put Lonergan at Full Forward and see what happens.

  8. Steve Healy says:

    I agree Josh. But I wouldn’t drop Mooney, Lonergan played Round 1 in the forward line and his been in and out of the team all year. Lonergan has just played eight games this year and has had very minimal impact. Every forward he’s gone up against he has been clearly beaten. Last year, he played every game from Round 10 onwards. In 16 games he kicked 36.21. I think Geelong need someone to kick 2-3 goals a week, not just Mooney. And Hawkins isn’t reliable to kick goals. Mark Thompson just thinks there isn’t enough room for Mooney, Lonergan and Hawkins in the same forward line. And also Ryan Gamble if you throw him in the mix. But he might change his ways because Geelong have been struggling to score goals in the last three weeks.

  9. ..why would you drop Mooney?
    if you drop Mooney Geelong becomes minus 20 in prettypoints!!

  10. Josh Barnstable says:

    Mooney is a big ugly hairy cat Danielle! Haha…who would be leading Geelong’s goalkicking? Chapman?

  11. Steve Healy says:

    Nah. Steve Johnson is with 38, then Money with 32, then Chapman with 27, Brynes 23, hawkins and Ablett 22 each.

  12. Josh Barnstable says:

    Oh yeah. Byrnes has been really good this year, i wish North Melbourne had him.

  13. Steve Healy says:

    Yeah, he had been a bit out of form the last few weeks though

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