AFLW Round 7 – Carlton v Brisbane: Almost an Anti-Climax
3.35 pm, Sunday 19th March
Ikon Park (Princes Oval), Carlton
Dead rubbers in most sports often tend to be lame affairs. This is certainly true of end of season football matches, where one (sometimes both) teams have “nothing to play for”. Of course for sports people who take their activity seriously, pride in performance or self-respect will provide incentive to play with commitment. However, the difference between a player or team fighting for a place in a final represents a qualitative extra spur.
Consequently the match between Carlton and Brisbane on Sunday threatened to disappoint as a contest. The Blues had clung to a sliver of hope that they might sneak a place in the Grand Final before falling short away to Fremantle, but even if that result had been reversed, the outcome in other matches had sealed their fate well before battle was joined against the Lions.
It was somewhat surprising then to witness an entertaining match. Perhaps the freedom and spirit which has been a feature of this history-making season was carried over to the final match of what is in hindsight an unduly abbreviated competition. Female players finally permitted to perform on a suitably prominent stage have played with a refreshing joie de vivre.
Sunday’s match opened as a war of attrition. It featured plenty of vigor, and impressive defensive skills, smothers and intercepts. The opening half was a battle of defences with a solitary goal to Carlton in the 1st quarter and one to Brisbane in the second being the only two scores before the main break. The Carlton goal came after a period of sustained pressure from Brisbane. A set shot by McCarthy fell short, and a snap around the body from Frederick-Traub was barrelled to the forward-pocket boundary. From there Carlton moved the ball out of defence quickly and the Lions suffered two simultaneous setbacks. Randall was injured bravely backing into a marking contest, and moments later Arnell was driven into the ground and goaled from the resultant free kick.
Brisbane’s second quarter goal was the result of some effective team football as Brisbane began to demonstrate why they have been so successful during the competition. Exploitation of space, determined running on the overlap and presentation of a target were all features of the Lions’ game, with errant finishing the blemish on an otherwise impressive performance. The ever-busy McCarthy won contested ball from a strong tackle, broke from the pack and delivered to Ashmore who passed to Harris who goaled. The limited scoring wasn’t for want of opportunities. The Lions particularly in their period of ascendancy, late in the first quarter and for much of the second, failed to capitalise on some forward thrusts when an open forward line seemed to promise a certain goal. Some hesitant decision-making in the approach to the scoring zone, coupled with some stout defence by the Blues, ensured that the second half began with the match finely poised.
Brisbane began to dominate from the resumption, and some ten minutes elapsed before Carlton managed to move the ball into their forward fifty. However, the Lions were wasteful and claimed just three behinds (and several attempts which were scrambled clear) in the first few minutes of the term. Tayla Harris took a spectacular mark but didn’t make the distance, and then scored only a behind from a free (interference in a marking contest). Frederick-Traub missed from close range on a tight angle when she received a free kick for being legged. Randall’s long shot was touched. However, late in the quarter they added two goals which suggested that the floodgates were about to open. Lutkins goaled from a free when she was held when not in pssession and McCarthy produced a brilliant piece of opportunism with a one-two with Zielke, folllowing her mark at half-forward. The Blues managed to pull one back with Alison Downie’s goal from a free when she was held by the arm in a marking contest. This reduced the margin to nine points, but this seemed illusorily narrow rather than an accurate reflection of a quarter which had seen Brisbane rack up a dominant 10 to 2 inside fifties..
The final quarter saw a continuation of Brisbane’s dominance, as they revealed the sort of system and skill that explained their unbeaten ladder-leading status. Frederick-Traub marked Hildebrand’s pass to the hot spot and converted, and Gibson marked a kick-in and goaled from 45 metres close to the boundary. When a few behinds were also added Brisbanes’s lead stretched to 24 points and Carlton had managed just two straight goals in three and a half quarters, it seemed that the match was over. However, there was an entirely unexpected coda to the afternoon. Carlton ran in four goals and a behind in the final minutes, while Brisbane could only add a single behind, to leave the scores level with 23 seconds to play. Vescio quiet for most of the match was instrumental in two of the goals with a pass to an unmarked Hosking and after receiving from Arnell passed to Jakobsson for the goal which tied the match. Privitelli, aided by a 50 metre penalty and Loynes provided the other goals in this Blues’ rally. An inconclusive centre bounce was the final act of the regular season matches and allowed the Blues to complete the season unbeaten at Princes Park, while the Lions also preserved their unbeaten record for the seven-match season.
Carlton 1.0 1.0 2.0 6.1.37
Brisbane 0.0 1.0 3.3 5.7.37
Carlton Arnell, Downie, Hosking, Privitelli, Loynes, Jakobsson
Brisbane Harris, Zielke, McCarthy, Frederick-Traub, Gibson
Carlton Davey, Arnell, Loynes, Ivey, Privitelli
Brisbane McCarthy, Frederick-Traub, Harris, Zielke, Bates, Wuetschner
Umpires: Jankovskis, Garroway, Strybos
Official crowd: 5,801
Our votes: 3 McCarthy (Bris.) 2. Arnell (Carl.) 1. Frederick-Traub (Bris.)