Round 11 – Carlton v Brisbane: Unsung Heroes

In recent times it hasn’t been a common experience for a Blues’ fan to enjoy a regulation win – going to the match with an expectation of a comfortable victory, with the match panning out in that prosaic way. Round 11 proved to be such an occasion.


There was a brief hiccup early in the first quarter; Brisbane began in lively fashion, while Carlton were what could have been confused for a post-prandial torpor.  The Lions dominated centre clearances and forward fifty entries in the opening fifteen minutes. However, three missed set shots from within range on slight angles had the kind of deflating effect that typically afflicts teams with fragile confidence. At the same time, a number of Carlton players recognised that the game would need more than merely turning up, and began to apply the kind of collective effort that has characterised the new, improved model. Four goals by the Blues in the latter part of the first quarter established an ascendancy which went virtually unchallenged for the rest of the afternoon.


Carlton continued their scoreboard dominance in the second term, by running in two further goals before Jansen managed to score Brisbane’s only first half major. The margin stood at 27 points, which the Blues managed to extend by a further two goals before the main break.


The second half began with another brief Brisbane flurry. Four goals to one brought them within 21 points, but the home side steadied with the only three goals of the closing 12 minutes of the third quarter. The quarter was notable for unusual accuracy by modern standards, as each team added four goals straight for the quarter. This represented a recovery of sorts for the Lions, as it meant that after being heavily outscored in the first half, they had literally broken even in the third term. However, it was clear that barring something remarkable and unforseen, the late goals by the Blues had eliminated any risk of a loss.


The Lions won the final quarter by a solitary behind, meaning that they had secured a meaningless steadying of the ship in the 2nd half. However, it was a very disappointing day for them. Their inability to maintain their early spirited attack on the ball, the abysmal skills level (turnovers occurred with monotonous regularity) and a bare handful of goers were all sources of misery for their supporters. Rockliff was outstanding, Robinson did a good shut-down of his former teammate Gibbs (no mean feat given Bryce’s recent form), and Rich was useful at times.


For the Blues, it was particularly gratifying that a solid effort was generated by the relatively unsung.  Curnow was outstanding and Armfield was a major generator of drive. It is apparent that he has been a beneficiary of the new coaching regime, and with improved confidence his often wayward disposal has markedly improved.  Byrne shows indications that he will be a useful player, and he seems already to have adapted to the particular demands of the Australian game. Sam Rowe is revealing talents that have hitherto been well-disguised.


The best measure of Carlton’s progress at least in comparison to Brisbane, is evidenced by a comparison with the corresponding game in 2015 at Etihad. In the dying days of the Malthouse regime,  the Lions came from behind at half-time to score a narrow but decisive win. This time the Blues dominated from the sixteen minute mark of the first quarter, and the result from then was never in doubt. The score differential – a 38 point victory, compared to the 2015 9 point loss – is no more significant than the manner in which the match was played. Bear in mind that these two sides claimed just four wins and finished 17th and 18th in 2015 with Carlton taking the wooden spoon by virtue of a 3% deficit. The Wrap’s Sylvan Shield is unlikely to find its way to Royal Parade in 2016.


CARLTON               4.3   8.4   12.4   16.6   (102)
BRISBANE LIONS  0.3   1.7   5.7    9.10   (64)

Carlton: Armfield 3, Lamb 3, Cripps 2, Wright 2, Casboult, Tuohy, Gorringe, Rowe, Kerridge, Curnow
Brisbane Lions: Rich 2, Freeman, Jansen, Cutler, Keays, Rockliff, Martin, Schache

Carlton: Weitering, Tuohy, Curnow, Cripps, Kerridge, Armfield, Simpson
Brisbane Lions: Rockliff, Robinson, Zorko, Merrett, Jansen

Carlton: Gorringe (knee), Kreuzer (ill)
Brisbane Lions: Christensen (broken collarbone)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Kamolins, Edwards, McInerney

Official crowd: 30,722 at Etihad Stadium

Our votes: 3  Curnow (Carlton)  2 Rockliff (Brisbane)  1 Armfield (Carlton)


  1. John Butler says

    Ah, memories…

    Peter, we’re all wise in hindsight, but the early signs of yesterday’s demise were on display in this one. We started flatter than a you-know-what’s hat, but were fortunate to be playing opposition that couldn’t lay a glove.

    Mitch Robinson and Tom Bell must be wondering about the vagaries of football gods.


  2. Peter Fuller says

    I submitted this piece about 12 hours before the bounce (the queue) for yesterday’s match. In my covering note, I acknowledged the risk that the smug tone might prove a joke at my expense by the time it was published. And so it proved.

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