Round 8 – Carlton v Collingwood: Too close for comfort

It’s a fierce rivalry, this one.


Rushing onto the train on the Hurstbridge line after a dismal Saturday morning of local footy (a ten-goal loss to a high-quality division one side), my black and white attire is supported by many people in similar kit.


Halfway to the MCG, the train is overflowing with dark shades. Black and white fills the carriages, but navy blue slots in. There’s an odd silence. Tension reigns. No matter where these two teams are on the ladder, it’s always game on.


Rushing into the ground and taking in the match, it’s obvious Carlton have lifted once again for this special occasion. In front of nearly 70,000 people, this is a finals-type game for them. They intend to turn it into a scrappy match, and they succeed. Stephenson and Thomas both look dangerous early for Collingwood, but soon fade out when the Blues’ immense defence limits any free-flowing attacking play. Big Curnow (Charlie) manages to break Moore’s shackles to bounce one through for them. It’s going to be a painful yet tantalising match.


Carlton’s young brigade, some of who dumbly decided to wear long-sleeve jumpers with the sun out, steadily find their feet after last week’s horror show. They have players everywhere – Cripps is parting the seas, allowing little flecks of navy to stream down the middle and attack with purpose. With McGovern, McKay and Curnow all providing daunting targets up forward (good choice to remove Casboult and thrust him down on the old and slow Ben Reid), Carlton actually look like a darn serious football team. Only against Collingwood.


The Pies still look classier in key moments – they break the game open in two goal spurts before falling back into Carlton’s style. Grundy is giving Kreuzer a bath, kicking goals, winning almost every tap and then deciding to touch the ball a lot around the ground. Walsh is proving his status on the big stage, while Phillips isn’t seen standing still throughout the match’s entirety.


Going into half-time dead even on 36 points apiece, Collingwood fans are frustrated. Why do the Blues only play two good games a year – against us? Why aren’t we showing our class for longer in order to break away? These doubts aren’t quietened when Carlton start the third quarter with some quick goals off obvious stop-start plays to their tall targets. McGovern is an inspired pick up, allowing McKay and Curnow to flourish. When Moore loses his only one-on-one contest of the year against Curnow, fear begins to seep into my feelings. The first rule of being Collingwood is you don’t lose to Carlton, and we were in serious danger of major embarrassment. Luckily, another burst means we are only down by a goal at the last break.


Carlton, or should I say Cripps, are winning the midfield battle – without Adams and Beams we look small and feeble. Pendlebury can hurt Cripps on the counterattack with his silky ball use, but when it comes to a contest of strength we have no one to match Crippa. Thankfully, Treloar kick starts the quarter with a goal and we quickly snatch the lead. But our disappointing defensive running haunts us when ex-VFL small forward Gibbons runs off and sets up goals. Then Cripps goes on a solo effort that makes the Blues cheer squad roar the loudest they have in a decade. He nearly takes the game away with a snap that narrowly misses. We are fortunate when Crisp accidentally sends a pass through the big sticks.

Phillips covers for the poor display from Hoskin-Elliott, Reid, Thomas and Elliott. De Goey is huge in the middle – he is the big body we needed. Finally Grundy’s dominance is used, and Callum Brown continues his best AFL match with some more twists and turns alongside a cheeky finish to put us in front with five minutes left. Just minutes ago we were down by two goals with ten minutes left. Now we’re in front. This burst better be more permanent.


My wishes are heard. The magician in De Goey soccers a half-volley into the Ponsford Stand to a miraculous sound. Carlton’s tired bodies then cough up an easy turnover goal for Phillips – well-deserved. Whilst celebrating, Hoskin-Elliott decides to impact the match with a sensational mark and goal after the siren. Who cares how it’s done – a win over Carlton is something to be treasured any day of the week.


CARLTON     1.4     5.6     10.8     13.9 (87)
COLLINGWOOD     2.1     5.6     9.9     16.10 (106)

McGovern 3, Cuningham 2, McKay 2, C.Curnow 2, Cripps, Murphy, Silvagni, Gibbons 
Collingwood: Hoskin-Elliott 2Phillips 2, De Goey 2, Brown 2, Stephenson 2, Grundy 2, Crisp, Treloar, Mihocek, Thomas

Cripps, McGovern, Murphy, Cuningham, E.Curnow,
Collingwood: Phillips, Grundy, De Goey, Brown, Sidebottom, Pendlebury, Treloar

C.Curnow (ankle)
Mayne (concussion), Thomas (ankle)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Dalgleish, Howorth, Fleer

Official crowd: 69,289 at the MCG


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  1. John Butler says

    Sean, I thought it was a good sign for the Pies that they could respond the way they did when it mattered.

    They had an extra gear we lacked.

    Until next time.

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