|Date: Saturday 30 September 1995||Score: Won by 61 points|
|Umpires: Goldspink, Carey, Kennedy||Crowd: 93,670|
|Goalkickers: S.Kernahan 5, G.Williams 5, B.Pearce 4, C.Bradley 2, D.Rice 1, A.Whitehead 1, S.Camporeale 1, E.Spalding 1, J.Madden 1.|
|Best: G.Williams, A.Koutoufides, P.Dean, A.Christou, B.Ratten, M.Sexton, S.Silvagni, C.Bradley, J.Madden, A.McKay.|
|Reports: Nil||Injuries: Nil|
The 1995 Grand Final between Carlton and Geelong was expected to the closest since the 1989 cliffhanger, given the strong recent form of both teams. The previous week, Geelong had thrashed the Tigers, while the Blues – despite winning by 10 goals – had had to work much harder against the persistent Kangaroos.
But on a blustery, wet day, the Blues would crush Geelong in the first half - threatening to break the all-time Grand Final margin record - before the Cats scored some late consolation goals to salvage some pride. Carlton ran out easy winners by 61 points, and collected our 16th Premiership cup.
For Carlton, recruit of the year Scott Camporeale and impressive youngster Adrian Whitehead played Grand Final football in their debut year, whilst Glenn Manton and Matt Clape shared that honour in their first season for the Blues. The team lined up as selected, with Brad Pearce and Stephen Kernahan forming a two-pronged forward line, supported by Earl Spalding, Clape, Dean Rice and Fraser Brown playing further upfield. Anthony Koutoufides and Mil Hanna took the wings, with Justin Madden rucking to Craig Bradley, Greg Williams and centreman Brett Ratten. Stephen Silvagni marked Geelong champion Gary Ablett at full back, Peter Dean picked up young Cat forward David Mensch, and Michael Sexton shadowed the dangerous Billy Brownless. It was an exciting build-up; now all we had to do was win.
The first quarter was dominated by Hanna on the wing, Ratten on the ball, Rice at half-forward and Madden in the ruck. The theme of the quarter was desperation, with huge tackles, bumps, and smothers giving the Blues the ascendancy. One such smother came from Rice, with the ball spilling to Bradley who goaled from the right forward flank. A Clape hit to feed the ball to Williams, a Dean pick up and run, and a Rice tackle, and the Blues looked on-song. The desperation was typified by Peter Dean, who beat both Colbert and Barnes in a 2 on 1 contest to win a vital free kick on the Member’s wing. A tough free against Kernahan could have given us our second major, but it didn’t matter, as Williams set him up 30 seconds later with a brilliant tunnel handball near the goal square. The Ang Christou 'woof!' echoed across the ground when he roosted the ball long, Hanna was tearing Aaron Lord apart, and Ratten was clearly on top in the middle. A Kernahan tap to Diesel for another major two minutes later, and you could sense something special was happening. Geelong eventually found some rhythm late in the term, with Riccardi and Mensch kicking late goals to add some respect to the scoreboard.
The Cats made some positional changes and found some vigour early in the second quarter, before a superb smother by Spalding from Riccardi’s attempted clearance opened the scoring. It was a spine-tingling goal, with the Duke collecting the loose ball and charging into the goal square to put us 17 points up. Kouta was everywhere, stealing marks, or tearing away from packs. One surprise was Clape, who was proving a great foil in a 'roaming' half-forward role.
Carlton was more than three goals up when Harry Madden took a handball in the goal square fom Spalding, after great work from Kouta, Dean and Rice on the wing. Rice himself goaled soon afterwards from a mark inside 50, and when Kernahan kicked two more in succession, the Blues were pushing clear. Glenn Manton had just come on, and was showing desperation with some fine marks at half back. Geelong's Paul Couch pulled one back for his side, but the Blues answered immediately through Brad Pearce. The quarter ended with some minor biff on the boundary line, but the margin was 40 points, and Carlton was on top all over the ground.
Early in the third term, Riccardi’s hammy tore, depriving the Cats of one of their better runners. With Hocking beaten by Bradley, and Tudor killed by Hogg, it was hard to see where Geelong could find some spark - especially when Dean continued the ‘desperate’ theme when he smothered a John Barnes kick, picked up the ball, and delivered a neat pass to Williams. Diesel then chipped another pass to Kernahan, and the captain's goal began another avalanche of scoring by the Blues - all because of Dean's inspirational play. Late in the quarter Williams was presented with another easy major when he marked a shocking kick-out from Geelong's goal square - taking the margin out to 52 points and sparking early celebrations among the huge numbers of Bluebaggers in the 90,000-plus crowd.
The last quarter was a bit of a an anti-climax. It was ‘party time’ in the first 15 minutes, until Geelong managed some consolation goals at the end. Every Blues major was a celebration; each Geelong score an interlude until we got our football back. Adrian Whitehead capped the celebrations with a nice running goal, and Diesel posted his fifth in time-on to put his well-deserved Norm Smith Medal beyond doubt as the brilliant Blues triumphed by 61 points.
Best for the day were Williams, Ratten, Koutoufides, Kernahan, Dean and Bradley in an awesome display by a dominant Carlton team.
|B:||14 Michael Sexton||1 Stephen Silvagni||39 Ang Christou|
|HB:||5 Andrew McKay||35 Peter Dean||33 Matthew Hogg|
|C:||13 Mil Hanna||7 Brett Ratten||43 Anthony Koutoufides|
|HF:||6 Matt Clape||11 Earl Spalding||23 Dean Rice|
|F:||19 Brad Pearce||4 Stephen Kernahan (c)||21 Craig Bradley (vc)|
|Ruck:||44 Justin Madden||20 Fraser Brown||2 Greg Williams|
|Int:||16 Scott Camporeale||22 Glenn Manton||32 Adrian Whitehead|
Preliminary Final | 1996