The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 17 – Carlton v St Kilda: No luck, not enough tall options

The first printed edition of The Footy Almanac came out in 2007, before we had a website. In the absence of a real 2020 season, we will be publishing the 2007 pieces for the first time ever on www.footyalmanac.com.au. Follow the season!

 

 

Carlton versus St Kilda

2.10pm, Saturday, July 28

Telstra Dome, Melbourne

by CHRISTOPHER RIORDAN

 

GROUND RATIONALISATION has certainly changed the football experience in Melbourne. It was hard to fathom a Carlton versus St Kilda home-and-away match scheduled for the Dome. The passion and drama of an afternoon at Princes Park or Moorabbin is diluted with 32,327 attendees creating a mostly cosy, rather than intimidating or inspiring atmosphere.

 

Even a romantic fool could not, however, dispute the compensatory comfort. Rather than standing on a hill from midday to secure a spot, young Thomas and I left Moonee Valley after the second race before heading in to our cushioned Medallion Club seats.

 

It was widely predicted to be a training drill for the resurgent Saints, and they kitted up accordingly, appearing on the divoted ground in their dreadful white singlets, white shorts and, for many, white boots. Carlton appeared in their Old Dark Navy Blue, ready for footy. In the coaches’ box, adjacent to us, Libba rode shotgun for caretaker Brett Ratten. There was no hint of tanking. A spirited opening was likely, but the question to be answered was how long Carlton could sustain its endeavour against a Saints team that was driving towards finals action and desperate for percentage?

 

Many Blueboys were playing for their future. Coach Denis Pagan had taken his bullet and now the players had to take some responsibility. Brendan Fevola had been listed as injured and as trade-bait during a week that reinforced his unpredictability, but he broke through Matthew Lappin’s 250th game banner looking ready to prove his worth.

 

His stocks rose early as he single-handedly took on the Saints’ backline in a thrilling opening quarter, highlighted by an extraordinary chase, tackle, steal and 80-metre, bouncing conversion. The Blues’ many forward thrusts seemed based simply around “kick it to Fev” – an understandable rationale when he is switched on. One can only imagine the adulation were this at the Blues’ spiritual home ground, where players like the The Buzz received their rightful due. But it’s a tough gig on your own, even though Brad Fisher tried valiantly to provide options.

 

Carlton were way in front in hardball gets and other critical stats. Andrew Carrazzo was thrashing Leigh Montagna and impressive third-gamer Ryan Jackson was putting Robert Harvey to the sword. Forward pressure is crucial against the Saints. Carlton succeeded early, although a lesson from this match could be not to allow Sam Fisher to float unmarked. Only Fisher looked likely to launch attacks as Saints’ midfield was comprehensively beaten early.

 

Fevola’s three goals for the first quarter were challenged by two each to Fraser Gehrig (also in game 250) and Nick Riewoldt. The Saints had a three-point lead and a reality check at the end of an action-packed quarter.

 

These goalkicking stats would prove portentous. Whilst Fev and the big G could cancel each other out, Saint Nick was the unmatched ace. Carlton had no one who could match his marking power – what odds Jason Saddington? – thus St Kilda’s combination always looked likely to explode.

 

When Brett Ratten appeared on the ground to deliver his quarter time address he was greeted with spontaneous applause from Carlton fans. One imagines that the tone of his messages would have been gentler than that of his adversary, Ross Lyon, who effectively snapped the Saints from their slumber.

 

By half-time, when the Saints led by 22 points, we wondered whether the Saints would grind to a six-goal win or break Carlton open for a flogging.

 

By three-quarter time we were none the wiser. A good game had gone off. The Blues were choked, they over-possessed the footy, and eventually turned it over to their opponent. Fevola had been mostly absent, while for St Kilda Lenny Hayes, Nick Dal Santo and the brilliant Jason Gram kept their forwards occupied.

 

Gram is such a key to Saints, with his piercing kick-ins and what Dougie Hawkins calls “them hundred-metre plays”, where the ball is carried 50 metres, then booted 50!

 

But the 35-point lead the Saints took into the last quarter was almost not enough. Carlton rallied dramatically and St Kilda responded uncertainly. Fev’s fifth was countered by G’s sixth. The fans finally found voice, but Bryce Gibbs’ miss with a minute to go soothed concerns of a boilover.

 

The Blues know that, with Andrew Walker and Josh Kennedy to return, they have a list to work with. Carlton also must surely accept that time is up for Lance Whitnall and Anthony Koutoufides, their immediate past captains. While Big Red is still absent, Kouta was again ineffective, meaning that, with Simon Wiggins hamstrung early, the Blues’ performance was even more meritorious given their depleted bench.

 

Yet I must confirm that it was skill error that cost Carlton a win. St Kilda escaped with the points; their many options up forward were the difference. Add Kosi and assume that Harvey, Ball, Montagna and Co. will normally contribute more and they may still be the September smokeys.

 

Had this been played at Princes Park, I reckon We Are the Navy Blues would have wafted down Lygon Street and across Carlton town.

 

 

St Kilda  5.4 10.7 14.12 16.15 (111)

Carlton  6.1 7.3 9.7 15.11 (101)

 

GOALS

St Kilda: Gehrig 6, Riewoldt 4, Milne 2, Baker, Birss,?Dal Santo, Blake.

Carlton: Fevola 5, Fisher 3, O’hAilpin 2, Ackland, Lappin, Bower, Bannister, Saddington.

 

BEST

St Kilda: Riewoldt, Hayes, Gehrig, Dal Santo, Fisher, Gram.

Carlton: Carrazzo, Fevola, Jackson, Simpson,?Betts, Murphy.

 

MILESTONES

Gehrig (St Kilda) 250 games, Lappin (Carlton) 250 games.

 

UMPIRES

Ellis, M. Nicholls, Meredith.

 

OUR VOTES

Riewoldt (St K) 3, Carrazzo (Carl.) 2, Jackson (Carl.) 1.

 

BROWNLOW

Dal Santo (St K) 3, Riewoldt (St K) 2, Carrazzo (Carl) 1.

 

CROWD

32,327

 

 

For more Round by Round reports of the 2007 season click HERE

 

Printed copies of The Footy Almanac 2007 can be purchased here.

 

2007 Footy Almanac

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