Carlton too good at promising new stadium

Carlton versus Brisbane Lions

Saturday, April 4

Etihad Stadium

by Tony Birch

Carlton 3.2 11.5 13.8 18.11 (119)

Brisbane Lions 3.3 4.6 10.8 15.10 (100)

Goals

Carlton: Fevola 5; Murphy 3, Betts 3; Gibbs 2, Cloke 2; Judd, Hadley, Houlihan.

Brisbane Lions: Bradshaw 6; Brown 3; Sherman 2, Hooper 2; Johnstone, McGrath.

Best

Carlton: Gibbs, Judd, Murphy, Kreuzer, Hadley, Thornton, Waite, Fevola.

Brisbane Lions: Bradshaw, Black, Rich, Power, Drummond, Adcock.

Umpires Rosebury, Chamberlain, Keating.

Crowd: 42, 496.

Votes: Gibbs (C) 3, Judd (C) 2, Murphy (C) 1.

The game plan for Carlton against the Lions was simple. In the previous three Melbourne meetings between the two clubs Brisbane had taken the bacon on each occasion. Those games were played at the now extinct Telstra Dome (what memories!), including the 2008 loss, a game over by quarter time, courtesy of one J Brown.

With the Lions having the wood on us down on the waterfront, Carlton came up with an ingenious plan; something left of left field. We moved the match, from under their noses, to The Etihad! – A ground of such unknown quantity that although ‘they [might] know we’re coming,’ I had no idea where I was heading, even after consulting the latest edition of my street directory (where The Etihad is yet to appear).

The fact that Brisbane was playing on foreign turf was not apparent during the first quarter, with both teams going blow for blow at a frenetic and courageous pace. Only a point separated the sides at quarter time, and the Lions could easily have been further in front, Black and Power dominating with eleven possessions each.

In the second quarter The Big E – as the ground is affectionately know by those who have come to love it these past days – came into its own. With a southwesterly blowing and perhaps thousands of cigarette smokers puffing on nails on the tarmac outside the ground a pall of smoke soon enveloped Brisbane’s forward half, reducing visibility to a few metres.

While Carlton managed eight magnificent goals in a quarter dominated by Judd’s burst and Gibbs’ poise, Brisbane kicked just one goal. And with the Blues in front by seven goals at half time, the swagger was in full flight. I would not have been strutting with such confidence had I noticed that Michael Jamieson, who was again playing so well on Bradshaw, had gone down in the second quarter with another shoulder injury.

The third quarter was not all Brisbane, but just about. Bradshaw dominated up forward, kicking three for the term, while their midfield were well on top, which included young Daniel ‘Dogtown’ Rich, the round one Rising Star nominee. By siren time it was the Lions who were coming, and fast.

I studied Fevola closely as he walked to full forward for the final quarter. Our Great Rogue Hope seemed to have lost interest in the game. Maybe he had swallowed some of whatever it was he was using on his injured heel? Fev not only looked tired. He was all dopey, like he’d caught Juddie’s midweek flu and should have been home in bed.

But it was not to be. The Fevolution, who knows the eccentricities of the Big E like no other player, had only been foxing. After a quarter and a bit of ‘dope-a-rope,’ he sprang to life and kicked three telling goals for the term, including a long-bomb-off-one-step-following-a-pirouette-and-half-twist (like a sublime poem, at times description fails Him).

The Lions pushed the Blues until the end. Considering they had come from eight goals down early in the third quarter to be within two goals midway through the last, they could easily have run over the top of the Carlton boys. They didn’t due to several factors.

Firstly, when the Carlton midfield, led by Judd and Murphy, got going again, the Lions simply could not win enough of the ball to put a deeper hole in the deficit at which they’d been digging away. Secondly, while Brisbane were desperate and hard at the ball all night (we would expect no less from a squad under Michael Voss), Carlton was equal to the task and surrendered nothing. And thirdly, that big bad bear at centre half forward for Brisbane, who, in the past has enjoyed mauling the Carlton Football Club, was generally ineffective after two early goals. (He finished with three).

Brown became so frustrated that he sat on Murphy late in the game, much to the annoyance of Thornton and Waite, who ran at him and play-wrestled Brown for several minutes.

Carlton go into round three undefeated and on top of the ladder. I have already experienced two post-match brainwaves. (I would not be surprised if others follow). Bryce Gibbs will surely be renamed ‘The General,’ ‘Napoleon,’ or better still ‘Eric Cantona,’ before season’s end. (‘Cantona’ is presently short favourite at $1.22 – get on him).

My second thought is that while we are expected to play Essendon at the MCG next Saturday night I am going to put a touch of trickery to the Carlton Hierarchy. I suggest the game be moved – to ‘Larry’s Homemade Sausages at Ardeer Arena’.

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