Round 10 – Carlton v Adelaide: A fair dip but not quite good enough

As a small crowd assembled for the Carlton-Adelaide match, I wondered what might be expected. It is a measure of how far the Blues have fallen that supporters hope only that a total capitulation can be avoided.

In the event, we were pleasantly surprised. The team bounced out of the blocks and kicked the first three goals. I am convinced that teams which have endured an intense prior match are vulnerable. Mental stress as much as the physical toll creates the danger of a letdown when facing lesser opposition next game. After the epic Adelaide-Fremantle struggle in Round 9, it was no surprise that the Crows were slightly off the pace as the match began (as Fremantle so obviously were against the rampaging Tigers).

Adelaide predictably reeled the Blues in and went to the quarter-time break with a two goal advantage, with both sides demonstrating rare accuracy in kicking for goal. Cameron and Jenkins threaded exceptional goals from the forward pocket boundary. However, there had been a welcome change in the Carlton players’ demeanour. A much more intense effort and better organisation characterised their approach. Backing up, virtually non-existent earlier in the season, a strategic approach to ball movement, and a serious attempt to improve disposal efficiency offered encouraging signs.

The crucial incident of the opening quarter however overshadowed everything else, the probable end of Chris Judd’s stellar career. The action seemed innocuous enough, Judd completed a mark, and was given a gentle tap on the scone by Paddy Dangerfield as he went to ground. Initially, I thought that he was trying to influence the umpire into giving him a 50 metre penalty, but it was soon evident that he had landed awkwardly and was in serious trouble. I didn’t know the extent of the injury until I returned home after the match, but it looked ominous when he needed the motorised stretcher to remove him from the ground, and he was subbed almost immediately. He had been a lively contributor in the opening minutes; the mark was his 7th possession by the 24 minute mark, so he had seemed set for a (n other) good day.

The second quarter proceeded at pedestrian pace, notable for some shocking turnovers and general ineptitude by both sides, and Adelaide’s earlier accuracy deserted them. This latter factor was to be significant in the contest tightening in the latter stages. However for now, analogous to the classic adage never argue with an idiot, he’ll drag you down to his level and beat you with experience, it appeared that the Blues had foiled the normally skilful Crows, although the visitors managed to slightly extend their lead. The half-time margin suggested that Adelaide would be likely to progress to a comfortable victory.

However, as the third quarter progressed disbelieving Carlton loyalists watched a continuation and even intensification of the spirited effort from earlier in the match. Kreuzer provided particular encouragement with a fine pack mark and goal which he followed up with another goal shortly afterwards. With five goals to two for the quarter, the Blues found themselves within a goal at the last change.

Casboult kicked the opening goal of the final term, after Docherty marked a kick-in, to give the Blues the lead for the first time since the opening minutes. They held this advantage for eight minutes before Lynch goaled from a free. Although the Blues threatened thereafter, they were unable to get closer than a three point deficit. Matters were finally settled when Jenkins finished a fine move along the Southern wing by the Crows with a tap-in goal. It crowned a fine match by the big fellow as he scored the final two goals for a match high tally of five. This significantly reflected his status as the go-to man in attack, with Walker roaming far and wide in efforts to lift his sluggish teammates.

Murphy was outstanding all day, while Simpson playing loose man in defence was an effective rebounder. Kreuzer contributed in his welcome return allowing Casboult and especially Henderson to be more effective forwards. Casboult and Kreuzer also shared rucking duties where Wood was serviceable. Tuohy, Curnow and Carrazzo also played well, while Andrew Walker played a strong second half, his most productive effort for years.

Jacobs won the ruck duels, Sloane was excellent and Dangerfield (although understandably not quite up to the standard of his thrilling duel with Fyfe last week) was a constant threat. Thompson was Adelaide’s major clearance winner and Jenkins provided the decisive edge in attack. Betts was well held variously by Tuohy, Simpson and Curnow.

So the Blues embark on a new era, now forcibly underlined by the certain loss of Judd for a long time, and probably forever. Many of the players are playing for their futures in the remaining twelve rounds, and John Barker has his coaching audition. Only those who manage to enhance their (currently tattered) reputations in that period will be likely to be a significant part of the future at Carlton, or alternatively represent even modestly enticing trade bait.

Votes: 3. Murphy 2. Laird  1. Simpson.



  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Peter, many of your guys played anything but selfish football for the most part, even though some of their careers would now be in the balance.

    I think your captain is safe for a while, just not sure why it took him until now to stand up.

  2. Peter Fuller says

    I didn’t intend to imply that in playing for their careers, that players would play selfishly, as I suspect that is precisely the characteristic that people making the judgements inside Princes Park as well as potential suitors would be looking for – the team things, backing up,gut running to create options, defensive running to support, concentration in stoppage set-ups. I agree that these elements were much improved on Saturday, and visibly missing earlier in the season. While that allows the obvious inference that it “was Mick’s fault” I don’t automatically buy that. Players down on confidence, lacking confidence in each other and uncertain of how much others will put in, tend not to apply maximum effort. Garry Lyon had a good article in the Age the day of the Hawthorn-Sydney match emphasising how well Sydney’s midfielders keep putting in at every contest, irrespective of how hard they have gone in the preceding minutes.

  3. Luke Reynolds says

    It’s amazing how innocuous serious knee injuries often are. A sad way for Judd to end. Where will he be rated amongst the Carlton greats? Obviously a legend at West Coast.
    Good to see Marc Murphy played well, capable of much greater things than what he has been giving.

  4. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Sorry Peter, I removed the words “surprisingly to me” from my comment, probably should have kept them in.

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