Speed kills: Blues run and run while the Cats plod

Sometimes, the more we think we know, the less we really know. Week after week, we study form, history, maybe even tea leaves, and boldly predict the unknowable. It’s called, amongst other things, footy tipping. Many even venture to wager. Others prognosticate. Aren’t humans amusing?

This week’s games looked pretty straight forward. Well, we all know how that went. You’d reckon we’d know better.

Last week, after a stumble against Freo, Geelong gave a 3rd quarter display to remind everyone just why they’d been so dominant since 2007. It was modern football as a showpiece.

Carlton, on the other hand, spent last week reconsidering their approach. Struggling senior players were dropped, and pace was added. A win against a recent hoodoo side, the Crows, was achieved. But it wasn’t that pretty, and we all know how the Crows are travelling.

But that was all last week. And as any good coaching manual will tell you, sport is always about this week. Geelong need only to reflect on Grand Final day 2008 to confirm that.

The Cats and Blues made a study in contrasts as they lined up. Overall, the Cats looked bigger and stronger, the Blues smaller and leaner. The starkest match-up was Walker standing Hawkins. Blues fans were hoping the Tomahawk didn’t happen to sit on 1AW: Baby Huey indeed.

Proceedings began ominously for Blues fans. Podsiadly and Mooney marked with relative ease, for a goal and a miss. Setanta wasted Carlton’s first scoring chance.

The midfield chess match was instructive. Joel Selwood has been a little down by his lofty standards, and Geelong obviously gambled on playing him into form by backing him against Judd. This left Ling minding Murphy, which soon became a worry for the Cats as Murphy snapped the Blues’ first goal, and continued to romp away in open space. Judd didn’t seem to mind the situation, as he ripped the ball from clearances and sped downfield.

Luckily for the Cats, Aaron Joseph wasn’t threatening to repeat last year’s success tagging Gazza. The Little Master weaved and created. Joseph chased and tried, but rarely caught.

Stevie J answered Murphy with a regulation (for him) crumb and snap. Eddie Betts then overcame recent set-shot yips to goal from 45. Milburn marked and goaled: cue boos. It seems about 100 years ago that he KO’d SOS and tried to instigate a riot at Princes Park, but a lot of Blues fans obviously haven’t forgotten.

Wojcinski pulled down a screamer at half back, but there were some signs of worry elsewhere for the Cats. Enright failed to spoil, allowing Houlihan to goal, and then Kreuzer took a pack mark and put the Blues in front.

Carlton’s disposal was cleaner than it had been all season, and they look dangerous in the open. They led at ¼ time, 4-3 to 3-4.

Resuming, Selwood put the Cats in front, but they were lacking their usual composure. A 50 metre penalty gifted Murphy his 2nd, and Ling went to Judd and promptly gave up another 50. Rooke and Gazza were to provide similar largesse during the term. When Bartel failed to score from 20 m out, you definitely felt the Cats were off the boil.

A clear pattern emerged as the Blues extended their lead. Carlton forward pressure wouldn’t allow the Cats to rebound from defence, whereas the ball left the Geelong forward line at light speed. Walker was notable for the ease with which a passive Hawkins allowed him to storm downfield. Gibbs was dominating off half back. Carlton’s main danger was the odd turnover leading to a Geelong rebound.

Wojo tried to balance matters with a run from defence, but it ended with an ineffectual kick. More representative of proceedings was the moment when Bartel found himself miles clear, but chose to stop and prop, rather than attack. When Selwood found himself minding Betts in defence, you knew the Geelong game plan was out the window.

After goals to Betts, Yarran and Houlihan, Garlett ended the term on an appropriate note, by out-running the defence to waltz into goal.

At ½ time, the Cats had a problem, trailing 5-7 to 10-8.

When Garlett opened the 2nd half with another goal, the Blued were on the verge of blowing the game open. Kelly swept onto a loose ball to reply, but the Cats were still under pressure.

In an attempt to make something happen, Bomber put Selwood back into the middle, and Gazza to full forward. This produced an immediate Gazza goal. Ling persisted as always, and began to nullify Judd, as the Cats regained control of the clearances. But Gazza wasted his next shot, then Scotland surged inside 50 to feed Judd for a goal, and the Blues were clear again. Bartel could only answer with another horrible miss.

Taylor and Mooney swapped ends, as the Cats still searched for answers. Carlton flirted with sealing the game, but couldn’t find the killer blow. Dennis Armfield was playing the quarter of his life. Gazza fed Pods, who missed again.

The Blues wound the quarter down playing keepings off, and still led by 33 points, 12-13 to 7-10.

Were they thinking of trying to sit on the lead? I was praying not, as that hasn’t been a recent forte.

The Cats began the final term looking for their famous extra gear. Wojo surged again but the ball dribbled through for a point. The game was now exclusively in Carlton’s defence, but Pods missed again, and it was left to Gazza to goal from the pocket- margin 25 points.

Geelong continued to press, but couldn’t find the goals. Jordan Russell was again blanketing Stevie J, and Armfield owned Byrnes. Jamison had the measure of Mooney and Hawkins remained ineffectual. Pods threatened, but couldn’t kick straight.

Carlton looked increasingly shaky. Walker’s shoulder had popped again, and his dash was missed. Finally, they got the ball forward, for Yarran to mark on 50 near the boundary: he kicked a very big goal.

Taylor replied immediately, but the Setanta marked on 50 and kicked the longest goal of his life. Carlton had gone inside 50 twice in the term, for 2 goals. Bomber wouldn’t have been pleased. This goal settled the Blues, who now looked calmer in possession. They started to give Geelong a taste of their own keepings-off style, if rather less elegantly.

The die was cast when Stevie J missed a sitter. Garlett provided last rites when a defensive cough-up gifted him the sealer. The final score was 15-14-104 to 9-14-68.

The Blues obviously showed the Cats up for pace today. The speedy forward trio of Betts, Yarran and Garlett made their opponents look particularly cumbersome. They will be a focus of attention for the Pies brains trust one suspects.

In round 19 last year, we similarly ran an injury-troubled Geelong team off their feet. Not many fancied the Cats’ flag hopes that night, yet they eventually willed their way to triumph. You wouldn’t be counting them out yet, but today would give some pause for thought.

Only one thing is certain, this week will soon be last week. And we all await a blockbuster round next week.

Best:

Carlton: Gibbs, Judd, Garlett, Russell, Jamison, Scotland, Armfield

Geelong: Ablett, Wojcinski, Chapman, Bartel

Votes- 3- Gibbs  2- Judd  1- Ablett

About John Butler

John Butler has fled the World’s Most Livable Car Park and now breathes the rarefied air of the Ballarat Plateau. For his sins, he has been a Carlton member for more than 30 years.

Comments

  1. John – the Blues were too fast, too skilled, and too hungry. A week’s a long time in footy. I love how sport is such a great equalizer.

  2. Peter Flynn says:

    Agree with your observations JB.

    Two hours is a long time in football let alone a week.

    That was a well-planned stitch-up.

  3. Tony Robb says:

    John,
    I thought the biggest thing to come out of yesterday was that the Baggers now have a reasonable backline without Waite and Thornton. Arnfield and Russell can play and Jamison is turning into a good fullback. White looks a good player but Walkers loss is a bad one as he generates a lot of run off the flank. Waite’s inclusion at CHB is no longer essential making him a permanent CHF which gives a better mix up forward as the three amigos aren’t going to be that dominant each week. Anyway, they need to play with that level of pressure each week. It will certainly be good enough to roll the Dark Force next week. By the way. Did you see the supported in the Pies rooms after the game? Classic. They were all locked behind bars

  4. John Butler says:

    Where they belong Tony.

    It is never a bad thing if senior players have to earn their spot.

    PF, I agree that it was a well planned stitch up. I hope all those hysterical Ratten slaggers of a fortnight ago are at least reconsidering.

    Still, the test will be to keep it going.

  5. Danielle says:

    Did anyone notice Bryce ‘Duckie’ Gibbs eating Subway on his way into the rooms before the game?
    i wonder what was in it? what ever it was it certainly helped his game.

  6. John Butler says:

    This is a good point you make Danni.

    I hope the Blues fitness staff are on to this.

Leave a Comment

*