AFL Round 7 – St.Kilda v Carlton: Who wants another go on the roller coaster?

Lordy, lordy, lordy, what a difference a week makes.

Following the past two rounds, supporters have had that warm and fuzzy feeling – a five goal victory over Adelaide and a lovely ten goal win over the hapless Demons. All of a sudden you hit a chicane in the road  that disrupts your heart rate and leaves you a little unnerved navigating the road ahead.

From the get-go I had a worrying feeling it wasn’t going to be as cut and dried as expected and predicted.

And by the end of this game, I felt like I’d gone three rounds with Jeff Fenech and been left sitting on my backside in a daze as the ten count was called.

Maybe my uneasiness started when I had a conversation with Dan – fellow Blues supporter and provider of my daily stimulant (my morning coffee!) in the ABC Cafe.

We’d chatted just that morning about the Blues chances, St Kilda had only won one game so far and the Carlton seemed to be hitting its straps over recent weeks, so all was looking positive for this Round 7 clash despite the brain-phase by Jarrod Waite last week which saw him out of the team.

(Grow up Jarrod, as they say – there’s no ‘I’ in team!!)

 Tuesday morning I strolled up to the cafe counter, Dan and I just looked at each other and shook our heads. Heather (another Blues supporting colleague) who’d actually gone to the game, simply said to me, “You can’t win a game with only 15 minutes of good footy!”- enough said!

But back to the game itself.

Monday night footy – another anomaly in the season. Still not sure whether I like it or whether I feel the AFL is encroaching further into my life by stealth.

 Well – it’s time. Even the coin toss is a little bizarre. Wrong coin apparently! So with a bit of an anti-climax for the Channel 7 cameraman and commentators, Carlton captain Mark Murphy indicates his preferred end with a rather subdued gesture of his thumb.

Pre-game news is that Andrew Carrazzo is a late withdrawal with calf soreness. So 22 year old Jaryd Cachia gets the subs vest for the second week in a row – opportunity a-knocking young man! Let’s hope he makes the most of it.

A home game for the Saints, celebrating 140 years in existence commemorated this night by the wearing of a heritage strip of red and black hoops design.

The game starts with the usual push and shove – this always reminds me of boys in the school yard facing off in their little gangs with a bit of ‘argy bargy’ and ‘who can look the toughest and deal out the heftiest push’.

Aside from Matty Kreuzer wearing a glove for ‘broken thumb protection’ everyone looks good to go – on both sides.

Curiously, Clint Jones has been omitted from the St Kilda line-up even though he warmed up with the team.

Geary starts on Betts then goes too Murphy. As it will turn out, a smart move by Scott Watters.

Riewoldt has scored first for the Saints then Kade Simpson evens it up with a major from a free kick directly in front.

In a brief highlight for the Blues, Andrew Walker intercepts a pass from Milne and takes off up the ground with three bounces and a shot towards goal from the 50 metre line – it’s a GOAL! And a beauty at that – Carlton seem to be on their way. Oh what a tease!

Andrew Walker – playing off the back half this year for the Blues – has started well.

By halfway through the quarter, Carlton are practically circling the wagons. The team physios and doctors must be on special rates – Jamison re-injures his ‘dicky’ shoulder in an early marking contest with Riewoldt eventually going off with an apparent sub-lux! But docs have him back in the action fairly quickly.

Then Davy Ellard does a hamstring and is assisted to the bench – SUB – on you come young Cachia: Chris Yarran then seems to tweak his hammy too, revisiting the problem he had earlier in the season; capping it off – Mark Murphy gets his foot stepped on impeding his mobility.

St Kilda are dominating possessions in this opening period but just not converting on the scoreboard, while Carlton try to absorb the effect of an injury riddled quarter.

Five behinds to the Saints, repeatedly getting the ball inside their 50, closes the gap.

While McLean and Betts miss set shots for the Blues, St Kilda finally hit the front with one from Roberton – I like his style of play, seems to be one to watch. Saad then gets the Saints’ third. A final set shot by Murphy goes awry and that’s quarter time with a seven point lead to St Kilda – inaccurate kicking the order of the night so far.

Having said that, the Saints are certainly in charge as Carlton’s injuries have completely undermined its game structure.

A four goal to one second quarter sees the Saints more than double Carlton’s score by halftime.

Nick Riewoldt continues the great form he’s shown this year despite the Saints lone win so far. He has three goals at this point.

By contrast, Shaun Hampson seems sluggish up forward for the Blues and Robbie Warnock, while doing a good job in the ruck, is not the most agile of men around the ground. And Kreuzer seems simply to be lacking match practise.

St Kilda are playing well across the ground and getting better. McEvoy, Stevens, Del Santo and Fisher all contributing strongly as are some of the newer players. They are in control by the third quarter and Carlton seem to be in disarray – a rotation down – with Ellard and Yarran finished for the night.

Interestingly, Lachie Henderson has been sent forward for the second half – will this move bare fruit?

Several opportunities pop up for the Blues in this third quarter only to see hopes dashed with inaccurate kicking from set shots. Another one goal quarter – not good enough given the task facing the Blues.

 Frustrations starting to shine through on the couch in our house. There’s a feeling of disbelief. My 17 year old daughter and devoted Blues fan just keeps repeating “… it’s like there’s 15 of us and 50 of them out on the ground.”

You can’t help but think in this situation, the pressure is on the assistant coaching staff. They MUST come up with a new and immediate structure and a quick fix game plan to match, if the Blues are going to pull this lead back and have any chance at all.

In that third quarter, frustratingly, Carlton actually had almost three times as many inside 50s as the Saints but just DID NOT convert.

I’m starting to feel despondent – that terrible feeling in the pit of your stomach – when things aren’t going to plan. This isn’t how this night was meant to pan out. Don’t you hate that!

We watch the interactions keenly at the third quarter huddle. Mick looks surprisingly reasonable and rational – just emphatic in his address to the team. While Scotty Watters has a definite spring in his step.

With a more than a five goal lead, the Saints look confident starting the final quarter.

But wait – the Henderson move may be paying off – he gets the first goal of the quarter. Hampson has joined him up forward and gets the next – that’s two in quick succession.

Riewoldt unusually misses a set shot only to have Lachie Henderson, seconds later, take a solid stretching mark at the top of the pocket from a Hampson long bomb. Another Carlton goal.

Garlett marks and kicks straight. Ten points in it – Do we dare to dream!

The tone in the room is changing. Zoe and I look to each other in disbelief as Lachies gets another and the margin is unbelievably just four points.

Five goals in the space of about fifteen minutes – where oh where have you been boys!

Robbie Warnock’s efforts in the hit outs have gone up a notch.

The remaining seven minutes sees an intensity that has been conspicuous in its absence all night.

Ahmed Saad then settles the tempo with a Saints goal but the crowd has awoken.

The final margin ends up at nine points with Carlton having a great five goal to one final quarter, but ultimately all they achieved was to give their supporters massive heart palpitations and a feeling of having been through the proverbial ringer.

The BIG questions looming now are: can St Kilda now move ahead having racked up a second win for the season and what is in store for the Blues next week when they meet Port Adelaide with who knows what sort of team structure.

Betts will surely be out, having made a dubious and possibly reportable bump on Wright that lead to a suspected broken jaw – the only Saints injury to come out of the match. Jarrod Waite will return, but what of the Carlton injury list which by all accounts will be extensive.

Credit to the Blues for their final effort, but all too late. And to St Kilda’s credit, it put together a solid, intensely fought game with a deserved win at the final siren.

Another round, another unexpected result.

So, why do we put ourselves through this ritual week in, week out?

What can I say – I love sport. I went to a Rugby Union game a fortnight ago which was great; attended a Rugby League game earlier in the year – loved it. But when all is said and done, there is no game like aussie rules to take you through a roller coaster of emotions, no matter the result.

So, next week? – Bring it on!

St Kilda    3.5  7.7  10.8  11.11 (77)
Carlton    2.4  3.6  4.11   9.14 (68)

St Kilda: Riewoldt 3, Saad 2, Milne 2, Siposs, Armitage, Roberton, Milera
Carlton: Henderson 3, Garlett 2, Walker, McLean, Simpson, Hampson



St Kilda: Steven, Riewoldt, McEvoy, Geary, Fisher

Carlton: Armfield, Walker, Judd, Henderson, Cachia, McLean

(special mention to Michael Jamison who seemed to play through the game with a serious shoulder problem)

Umpires: Stewart, Chamberlain, Kamolins

Official crowd: 34,054

Votes: 3 – Riewoldt (St.K) 2 – Steven (StK) 1 – Walker (Carl)


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.

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