Round 17 – Carlton v West Coast: On a peculiar match

This was a peculiar match. For three and a half quarters a notably superior West Coast Eagles team maintained a significant advantage which always looked likely to be enough. Since they were playing Carlton who had gone decisively off the boil in the preceding five weeks, a 26 point lead midway through the last term suggested that the Eagles would finish the job and most probably add to their impressive percentage.

To this point the Blues had won 2 quarters of 19 in their previous four matches and the three completed quarters of this game. Their most recent encounters against Collingwood and Adelaide had yielded 2nd half goal tallies of 2 and 1 respectively. So nothing that had happened earlier this afternoon, or in recent weeks prepared anyone in the stadium for a final flourish in which Cripps, Weitering and Gibbs goaled, without any score at the other end to narrow the margin to an improbably flattering 7 points. Carlton hadn’t been that close since early in the first quarter.

I wondered if Foreign Minister Bishop might have used her influence with the Eagles to convey a message to the three-quarter time huddle to suggest that they go easy and provide Vice-President Biden with an entertaining finish to take away as his first impression of Australian football. Ross Treverton disabused me of that assumption when he indicated in his Almanac article that the VIP had already departed the scene.

The Eagles had opened the scoring, proving more fluent in their forward movement, with LeCras providing the necessary touch of class. The swirling wind was wrecking players’ judgment in the air and with their kicking, which led to an unusual number of out on the full decisions.

Thereafter the match proceeded in pedestrian but predictable fashion, with the better team able to assert their superiority from time to time. Defenders were on top, Docherty and Simpson outstanding for the Blues, with McGovern’s marking a constant limitation on Carlton’s attacking ambitions, and Shephard and Schofield rebounding effectively. The midfield duels went the visitors way with Lycett shading the Phillips/Kreuzer ruck combination, and Priddis demonstrating his wonderful ball-getting skills. I was reminded of Allan Jeans compliment to Gary Ayres: “A good driver in heavy traffic”. Yeo, Shuey, Gaff and Cripps were all significant contributors for West Coast.

The Eagles looked the more convincing going forward, with the notable exception of Darling. I couldn’t help but speculate that he has been spooked by his nightmare on the first Saturday in October, 2015. He presented well but his kicking betrayed a player with some unexorcised demons. He kicked 4 behinds (2 posters) and was credited with 0.5 because another ball passed over the goal line when he was attempting a handpasss.

Kennedy has come in for criticism in some quarters, but I felt he played well. His workrate, especially up the ground was creative and productive. LeCras represented a constant threat on a day when few forwards were ascendant.

For Carlton, there was some evidence that the road ahead isn’t entirely bleak. Is there hope for the future say the brown bells of Merthyr?

A slight injury forced Weitering into the forward line, where his fine marking technique allowed him to snaffle two goals, his first in the AFL. Jack Silvagni is showing glimpses of ability, pregnant with possibility. Paddy Cripps was quiet early, but played brilliantly in the second half, offering evidence for the opinion of many observers that he is a star in the making.

The Eagles are a puzzle. Clearly they are below full strength, but their continued moderate form away from Perth suggests that they won’t cause too much trouble for the very best teams in the competition, unless they emerge from the raffle for positions in the top eight and top 4 with a favourable finals draw.

There was a lovely moment after the siren when the Cripps brothers and Kennedy linked arms for a photograph of three fine young footballers from the small country town of Northampton.


CARLTON         1.2   3.3   6.5   11.9 (75)
WEST COAST   2.4   5.7  10.8  12.10 (82)
 Weitering 2, Gibbs 2, E.Curnow, Silvagni, Buckley, C.Curnow, Wright, Cripps, Kerridge
West Coast:Cripps 3, LeCras 2, Yeo 2, Kennedy 2, Hill, Schofield, Shuey
Carlton: Docherty, Cripps, Simpson, Gibbs, Kerridge
West Coast: Gaff, Priddis, McGovern, Shuey, Cripps, Masten
Carlton: Weitering (corked right calf)
West Coast: McGovern (left thumb), Priddis (left quad)
Stevic, Edwards, Ryan
Official crowd: 
26,389 at the MCG
Malarkey Medal Votes 
3. Gaff (WCE)  2. Docherty (Carl.)  1. Simpson (Carl.)


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  1. John Butler says

    A few promising glimpses Peter. That’s what we’re looking for to sustain us ’til the end of the season.


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