AFL Round 18 – Gold Coast v Carlton: “To tag or not to tag – that is the question”

In a pre-game interview, Mick Malthouse was asked the inevitable question about his plans for tagging Gary Ablett (Jnr – although I’m not sure why everyone keeps making the distinction anymore when we all know which one we all mean).

He responded nonchalantly, dismissing the spectre of Ablett as any sort of added concern, wanting neither to focus on him nor ignore him, using the term “run with him” as his only indication of the intended strategy.
Of course, it would be hard to deny that the Suns’ surprise result over Collingwood the previous week did not make most football departments pause for just a moment and reassess – for at least a few days – with Gary’s 49 touches obviously significant in no small part. Not tagging him will be a tactic that Buckley is destined to regret and Mick had no intention of repeating.
Malthouse had decided to take a different approach and gave the task to Ed Curnow. A big ask, especially when the prospect of an unhappy Mick would loom in the back of a player’s mind, should you not succeed in your assigned task.
Ultimately, Curnow did a creditable, even laudable job on Ablett although perhaps letting the latter get away in the last quarter racking-up ten of his final tally of 32 possessions.
For Ablett, there was the weight of this being yet another milestone game where he equalled his father’s 248-game career tally AND as a ‘Father and Son’ combination, the ‘two Garys’ drew level with John and Matthew Scarlett for total games played.

The Blues looked lively early and halfway through the first quarter had scored eight times from nine entries into their forward 50 with the Suns’ defensive pressure not in evidence. A good time to sit back, raise a glass and enjoy what was looming as just an afternoon workout for the Carlton boys.

But just when you might have started thinking the intensity of last week’s game had taken its toll on Gold Coast, three quick goals in succession with Charlie Dixon up forward put paid to any overconfidence emanating from my couch.

It was an eight point difference at quarter time with Carlton looking a little sloppy towards the end of that term.

The next two quarters progressed in a similar style with the Suns never letting the Blues get completely out of reach.

Despite Curnow doing his job, the Suns gave the Blues a real workout for three quarters, helped somewhat by Carlton’s inability to figure out the big posts from the little posts and which ones gave you the more points when dissected!
Impressive young player Jaeger O’Meara started on Judd and kept him reasonably quiet (by Judd standards) for most of the game – the former Blues’ captain finishing with just 18 touches while O’Meara racked up a sound 23.

Despite this seemingly low number, Judd’s 18 were effective and he was instrumental in clearing the ball from the centre and, with teammate Brock McLean, consistently moving it forward.

The shining light throughout for Carlton was lovely Matty Kreuzer – every mother’s dream son!

At half time his effective clearances consisted of 24 hit-outs, 11 to advantage. Overall he claimed 40 percent of the hitouts to advantage, four times that of Gold Coast’s best from Dixon.

Carlton’s six goals, five behinds in the final quarter settled the game down to give them an eventual 43 point win – a relief and an affirmation of the Ablett tactic but not enough to deny the problems that come from a score line of 16.24.120.

The Suns did not disgrace themselves but were simply out-played in the final thirty minutes of the game by a team desperately seeking weekly improvement and justification for Top 8 billing.

So an interesting prospect looms on the horizon with Carlton to meet Fremantle in Round 19 in Melbourne while the Gold Coast Suns take on the recently floundering West Coast Eagles in Perth.

Will Woosha tag Gary or let him run free in the hope that the long journey has taken its toll?

Whatever tactics unfold, you can be sure that we all love to watch, each week, awaiting the next instalment from Junior’s playbook.


GC Suns: 3.4   7.7   9.8    11.11 (77)
Carlton: 4.6  8.12  10.19  16.24 (120)

Gilbee (GC) and Cachia (Carl) started as the subs.

GC Suns: Day2, Hall 2, Dixon 2, Ablett, Bennell, Brown, Stanley, Shaw.
Carlton: Henderson 4, betts 3, Yarran 2, Armfield 2, McLean 2, Garlett, Watson, Judd.
GC Suns: Ablett, Bennell, O’Meara, Dixon, Brown, Shaw and Harbrow
Carlton: Kreuzer, Scotland, Henderson, Curnow, Judd, McLean, Murphy, Simpson,

Umpires: McBurney, Farmer, Pannell.
Official crowd: 19,460
Our Votes: 3-Kreuzer, 2-Ablett 1-Scotland


About Jill Scanlon

Blues fan and sports lover. Development through sports advocate; producer, journalist and news follower. Insanely have returned to p/t study - a Masters of International & Community Development. Formerly with ABC International / Radio Australia in Melbourne.


  1. Tony Robb says

    Curnow did well and got some ball himself which was a bonus A win is a win

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