The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 18 – Carlton v Collingwood: Rocca saves face

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 Follow the season!



Carlton versus Collingwood

2.10pm, Saturday, August 4

Melbourne Cricket Ground



IF YOU BELIEVE THE CONSPIRACY THEORISTS there were more tanks at the MCG for this match than there were at Tiananmen Square. The race for the services of 18-year-old Northern Knights ruckman Matthew Kreuzer is on in earnest, but this is a contest with a difference. To win Prince Charming, you have to make yourself as unattractive as possible.


Carlton has its destiny in its own hands, needing only to lose its final five matches to get their man. Melbourne need to do likewise, but also have to hope that the Blues slip up by winning one. Richmond is drilling down as low it can go, praying that the other two fail to lose just once each. Then again, you never know with the Tigers. They could be planning to redraft Aaron Fiora.


The latest island stop in Carlton’s cruise to Kreuzer was a game against Collingwood, who paraded their new prison-bar clash strip for the first time. The Blues said goodbye to Anthony Koutoufides in the traditional manner, ferrying him around the ground in a black open-top. Pie fans welcomed back James Clement and Rhyce Shaw to a backline that had been tormented by Jared Brennan and Jonathan Brown the week before. Ryan Cook made his AFL debut, the ninth Magpie to do so in 2007. Rookie lister Michael Jamison also got his first chance for the Blues.


Clement’s first job after 11 weeks on the sidelines was to toss the coin, and he chose the city end after calling correctly. Alan Didak drilled the first goal through an empty square after some copybook front and square roving to an Anthony Rocca marking contest. Kade Simpson quickly responded with a stand-in skipper’s goal, and the Blues settled into a rhythm around the on-ball dominance of Heath Scotland and Anthony Carrazzo.


The two midfielders complement each other well, with Carrazzo doing his best work around the stoppages and Scotland running hard into spaces to set up loose men. They shared 21 first-quarter possessions, but Carlton couldn’t fully capitalise on their supply. They had to rely on freakish efforts from Jarrad Waite and Setanta O’hAilpin to edge in front at the first break. Waite’s outrageous dribble kick from a boundary line free was almost blocked by an unsuspecting field umpire, but found its way through. O’hAilpin’s goal was only slightly more conventional. He grabbed the ball out of the ruck and reverse-torped it from close range, sparking jubilant celebration.


For much of the first three quarters, Collingwood looked like a side returning to the scene of a horrible accident – in this case, the 93-point thumping by the Lions at the same venue the previous Saturday night. They oscillated between brilliance and tentative turnovers, and Carlton’s confidence grew as they sensed the mood. Leon Davis kicked two second-quarter goals, but uncharacteristically coughed up the ball twice in the first half. Rocca’s only first-half touch was a handball to Tarkyn Lockyer after a contested mark in the goal square. Lockyer converted, but the risk seemed unnecessary.


At the other end, Brendan Fevola managed to shake off Simon Prestigiacomo with some hard leading in the second quarter, and was rewarded with two goals. The second was a monster, kicked from very near the centre circle and reducing the margin to a goal just before half-time.


While Rocca was threatening to post his second shocker in two weeks, Travis Cloke was doing his best to convert limited opportunities. His third goal, from a goal square scrimmage, gave the Pies a 13-point breather early in the second half, but it was short lived. Two more Fevola goals after pinpoint passes from Scotland and Paul Bower, and a goal each to Brad Fisher and Waite, had the Blues up by 11 points in time-on.


It’s hard to imagine too many of the Blues faithful were dreaming of priority picks at this stage of the proceedings. They were in full voice as an opportunity to sabotage the old enemy’s finals aspirations loomed large. But their din appeared to wake the sleeping giant: from this point on Rocca was unstoppable.


He booted five goals in little over a quarter of football, including one while lying on his back in the goal square at the Punt Road end. Even then, it was not until time-on in the last quarter that the Magpies managed to break Carlton’s resolve. Fevola slotted his sixth at the 18-minute mark to level the scores, but the Pies kicked the next four to post a flattering margin.


But back to the question of tanking. Fevola left the ground at the 22-minute mark of the last quarter with Carlton a goal down, and returned three minutes later with the margin out to 18 points. New coach Brett Ratten later assured the rat-smelling media pack that his gun full-forward required medical treatment. Scotland and Carrazzo also left the ground late in the quarter, but this was said to be part of the normal midfield rotation.


My Oxford dictionary gives two definitions of the verb “to tank”. One is to lose or fail to finish a match deliberately. The other is to fall rapidly in popularity or be unsuccessful. Back in the Napier Hotel in Fitzroy after the game, the consensus was that the Blues had met at least one of those definitions. We left it to our Carlton mates to decide whether it was both.



Carlton  4.4 7.6 11.10 14.12 (96)

Collingwood  4.0 8.7 10.10 18.12 (120)



Collingwood: Rocca 5, Cloke 4, Davis, Thomas, Lockyer 2, Didak, H. Shaw, Burns.

Carlton: Fevola 6, Fisher, Waite 2, Simpson, O’hAilpin, Russell, Saddington.



Collingwood: Cloke, Lockyer, Burns, Rocca, Clement, Davis.

Carlton: Scotland, Fevola, Carrazzo, Thornton, Simpson, Ackland.



Jamison (Carlton), Cook (Collingwood).



Kennedy, Stevic, Avon.



Scotland (Carl.) 3, Cloke (Coll.) 2, Fevola (Carl.) 1.



Carrazzo (Carl.) 3, Scotland (Carl.) 2, Clement (Coll.) 1.






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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