Round 21 – West Coast v Carlton: Saturday Night Live

 

West Coast v Carlton

5.40pm, Saturday 11th August

Domain Stadium, Perth

Andrew Cochrane

 

After a long day at the office, or more accurately the local footy (my boys, Lyndale, were down 10.5 to 1 point at quarter time!) it was nice to come home to watch West Coast run around for one of the last ever AFL games at Subi. Being an Eastern-stater I’ve not seen many games in person at Subi – if memory serves me right one pre-season game, and our first ever Subiaco Final vs Hawthorn in 1991 (our only home loss for that year!) – still it’s hard not to get somewhat nostalgic thinking that in two weeks’ time the curtain will come down on AFL footy there for good, a venue that has served West Coast well over the journey. I’m sure somewhere in the three-tier grandstand the ghost of George Grljusich is still telling off anyone who dares criticise Suma.

 

It’s been a pretty ordinary year for the Eagles, a couple of decent wins, against Geelong at home and Port away, scattered amongst a lot of dross, including three losses to Gold Coast, Collingwood and St Kilda where we led well into the fourth quarter on each occasion. It’s hard, in fact almost ridiculous to believe, that if we’d somehow hung on to win those three games we could be sitting in second, two points behind the Crows!  We look a long, long way from being a strong side, and were we to be sitting much higher than eighth, where we are presently, we would be above our station methinks.

 

Carlton showed some promising signs early in the season, including a fantastic win against the Giants in Round 12, but seven losses in a row doesn’t augur well entering this game, albeit that six of those losses were against sides presently in the top-10. The fixture gods have not smiled upon the Blues in the latter part of the season.

 

I’m looking forward to a battle royale tonight, not necessarily on the park but in our lounge room. As we’ve recently moved house in the outer burbs of Melbourne we’ve still only got one TV set-up, as I come to grips with connecting an array of technology that leaves me more flummoxed by the day. So whilst my beautiful daughter has the best of intentions when she comes next to me on the couch and says “I want to watch the footy with you Daddy” I’m prepared for the almost inevitable question “Can we please watch Ben & Holly now?” which usually comes at about the two-minute mark of the first quarter!  Thank goodness for iView and Netflix!

 

Where these clubs are at presently can be seen in the number of games played by the 22 that each team is fielding, with the Eagles having a remarkable 999 games more experience than the Blues.  Carlton are a young team finding their way, whilst West Coast will need to have a good hard look at their list come the end of the season to assess where a number of their veterans are at.

 

Although the weather has been ordinary in Perth for the past month, it was still surprising to see just over 30,000 fans turn up for such a crucial game, the lowest Eagles home crowd for the season.

 

Starting the game with the aid of a breeze, the Blues kicked the first couple of goals of the game through the agency of Murphy and Lamb, and looked to be switched on, before West Coast settled thanks to some fortuitous incidents. Firstly Silvagni inexplicably tried to play on from a mark with Hurn literally on his back, the result of which was that Hurn took possession of the ball, handballed to Cripps who dobbed a very nice goal from just inside 50, and later when Scott Jeffery put on a lovely shepherd for the Eagles in the lead-up to another Cripps goal.  One could only wonder how Damien Hardwick would have reacted had he been in the coaching box, after his criticisms of the umpires at the Cattery in one of the afternoon games!

 

Somewhat surprisingly, at quarter time after Carlton had kicked to the end favoured by the breeze, the Eagles found themselves 3 points up, having been more efficient in front of goals.  The trend continued in the second quarter, the Eagles were being thumped in the Inside-50 count, the Blues leading that by 32 to 17 at the main break, but West Coast held a commanding 31 point lead thanks to accurate conversion, with a score of 9.2 to 3.7.

 

Kennedy kicked three goals in that quarter to stake his claim for another Coleman Medal, which would be a remarkable feat given his five week absence earlier in the season.  Kennedy’s first in particular was a cracker, just about in the bleachers from the 50 arc, after Docherty had kicked out on the full thanks to tremendous pressure from Hutchings.  The half time margin could have been a tad closer had Casboult not passed the ball off, rather than have a ping at the goals, just as the siren was sounding, a lucky break for West Coast especially given what was about to unfold in the third quarter.

 

Anyway half time was bed time, and thus story time, for my little girl.  Jolliest Joey and Quietest Quokka sent her on a voyage of sweet dreams as she dozed off, and I re-took my lounge seat for the second half, the Eagles looking comfortable at half time with that five goal lead, at home, playing the team sitting in 17th … what could go wrong?! Plenty as it turned out!

 

The Blues who had had some very good performances on the day from Murphy, Gibbs, Curnow, Kruezer and Kerridge, finally started to convert their chances and get reward for their effort.  With just over a minute to play in the quarter a lovely goal from Boekhorst from near-on the boundary put them a goal up, an inconceivable scoreline just half an hour earlier!  Six unanswered goals at one stage were well deserved for the Blues, with the former Crow, Kerridge, in particular having a sterling stanza.  In defense McGovern and Yeo held things together to prevent what could have been a worse outcome for the home side.

 

The Blues were fleeter of foot than the Eagles and seemed to have more daring in them.  With scores tied up at the final break the Eagles season was on the line, especially considering they face the Giants and Crows in the final two weeks.  A loss here would put a massive dent in their Finals hopes.

 

In the final quarter the Eagles finally showed the desperation of a club fighting for a spot in the Eight.  Twenty sorties forward in the term for West Coast was what the home crowd would have expected coming into the game, and with Mitchell and Shuey coming to the fore the Eagles forwards got the supply that they needed, Kennedy again adding crucial goals to fend off each Carlton challenge.

 

Nonetheless, the Eagles couldn’t completely shake off the Blues, and when Casboult goaled with three-and-a-half minutes to play they were still only nine points adrift, a terrific road performance for a team that could have been excused for entering the game somewhat low on confidence and perhaps with one eye on the end of the season. The final siren signaled a 17 point win for West Coast, but an unconvincing performance that doesn’t bode well for the road ahead. The Eagles did beat GWS at nearly the same point of the season last year, but that was thanks to some last-minute (last-second!) heroics by NicNat, a player the Eagles could well do with currently.

 

Carlton for their part were terrific, they showed great endeavour and belied their lowly position on the ladder. With a plethora of kids coming through they have great reason for optimism that the rewards will be there in the coming years. Picket showed nice flashes in just his eighth game, Petrevski-Seton continues to impress, and the stalwarts in Murphy, Gibbs and Kreuzer showed their wares yet again.

 

West Coast dodged a bullet tonight but with games against the top-2 to come, I fancy this was more a stay of execution than a royal pardon.

 

WEST COAST   4.0   9.2   10.4   15.10 (100)
CARLTON         3.3   3.7   9.10   12.11 (83)

 

Goals
West Coast: Kennedy 6, Cripps 3, Darling 2, Redden 2, Hutchings, Partington
Carlton: Murphy 2, Silvagni 2, Casboult 2, Lamb, Gibbs, Fisher, Pickett, Boekhorst, Curnow

Best
West Coast: Kennedy, McGovern, Shuey, Yeo, Redden
Carlton: Murphy, Kruezer, Gibbs, Kerridge, Curnow

Umpires: Scott Jeffery, Shane McInerney, Hayden Gavine. Crowd: 30,491

Our Votes: Kennedy (West Coast) 3, Murphy (Carlton) 2, McGovern (West Coast) 1.

Brownlow … to come.

About Cheesehead

An Eagles fan that enjoys a day at the local footy and then coming home to watch the AFL. Can't believe how quickly the years have passed since our last flag ...!

Comments

  1. Terrific match report Mr Cheesehead (Green Bay Packers?) and I agree with all of your observations. We sat in the city end stand with the Bard of Ballarat Mr JButler and his Maid Marion with the southerly buster in our faces. I thought it freezing; he thought tropical.
    I wanted a trade offer for Jack Darling (is that a surname or an adjective?). He offered Levi but even withdrew that in the last quarter. Levi was the Blues’ Cinderella for the evening. Continually late to the ball in the first 3 quarters, but he found his glass slippers in the end to kick 2 beautiful long goals.
    Daisy Thomas should have the good grace to follow Pridda, Bob, Nick etc out the door. Ghosts of footballers past.
    On the few positives for us – Liam Duggan played another good game and Jackson Nelson is showing glimpses of becoming a good player. Simpson was smart to play both ruckmen, and Kreuzer was worn out going it alone. Vardy jumped over him in the last to let Mitchell and Shuey eventually dominate the clearances. I have it on good authority that Bolton gave Murphy, Gibbs and Thomas a mega blast for not being accountable in the centre when Vardy started to get on top.
    GWS by 10 (goals).

  2. Cheesehead says:

    Thanks Peter, gave me a good laugh your comments about the weather, your Ballarat visitors might enjoy the Doggies game in their hometown this Saturday with a not-so-tropical forecast of 10 degrees!

    And yes, spot on re the Cheeseheads / Packers, the way the Eagles season is heading my thoughts may turn to the upcoming NFL season sooner than later!

    Any thoughts on why Darling has regressed over the past couple of years? He looked like he could take the comp by storm early doors.

    Couldn’t agree more regarding Daisy Thomas, he got a bit of the ball but for very little impact, I actually barely noticed him and was surprised to see he had 24 touches. Certainly seen better days.

    Duggan is progressing nicely I think, one of the few bright spots in terms of what’s coming through. Unfortunately most of what’s happened this season was reasonably predictable (which I think also describes the way we play), we were always likely to finish either just in or just outside the top-8. The worry is that if they don’t improve over the off-season through the draft and trades it could be a quick slide further down the ladder – although the ‘glass half full’ view could be that we’re only three games off second, the ‘glass half empty’ view also shows that we’re only three games off 14th.

    Hopefully this weekend’s game isn’t as bad as we expect, I think it’s actually a good way to end the home & away season playing the Giants & Crows, there won’t be any hiding behind an ordinary win like last week, we’ll either show something that we haven’t shown all year, or we’ll be shown for what we really are, which at least gives the club no excuses to not make some tough decisions in the off-season.

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