The Blues kicked 9 goals in the second half to trump the Grand Finallists by 1 point at the Gabba! What a start to the year....

Opening Round, 2024

Carlton 2.0 12 4.4 28 11.6 72 13.8 86
Brisbane Lions 7.2 44 9.5 59 10.11 71 12.13 85
Venue: Gabba, QLD.
Date: Friday March 8, 2024 (6.40 pm).
Result: Won by 1 point.
Crowd: 33,367
Goalkickers: C. Curnow 4.0, H. McKay 3.1, D. Cunningham 1.2, M. Kennedy 1.0, L. Fogarty 1.0, P. Cripps 1.0, M. Cottrell 1.0, J. Carroll 1.0, M. McGovern 0.1, Rushed 0.4.
Reports: Brisbane's Lachie Neale and Blue George Hewett have escaped suspensions after their exchange during Friday night's clash. Hewett struck Neale before the two-time Brownlow medallist retaliated late in the third quarter of the Blues' thrilling one-point win at the Gabba. Both were charged with striking and can accept $2,500 fines with early pleas. Both were their first offences at the tribunal. Hewett's was graded as careless conduct, low impact and high contact, while Neale's was intentional conduct, low impact and body contact.
Umpires: Brett Rosebury, Andrew Stephens, Brendan Hosking, Simon Meredith.
Injuries: S. Docherty (ACL knee) season ending.
Ladder: 4th.

Game Review

Carlton pull off history-making win

Carlton have pulled off a massive win against Brisbane at the Gabba. - By Cristian Filippo, Carlton Media

Carlton has produced one of the most famous interstate wins in its history, coming back from 46 points down to prevail by a solitary point at the Gabba. Becoming the first team to beat Brisbane on its home deck in over a year, it was the Blues’ second-biggest comeback in their history, only eclipsed by a win against Essendon in 2007. Harry McKay was the ultimate hero for the Blues on a night of every player contributing to the comeback win, with the key forward putting the Blues ahead with just over a minute to go. It was an even sweeter night for the Blues with Zac Williams looking assured on his return with 19 disposals, while Orazio Fantasia is sure to remember his Navy Blue debut.


Quarter one
Keen to avoid a repeat of the Blue barrage which hit the Gabba in last year’s preliminary final, it was Brisbane which made the fast start on its home deck, dominating early territory and control of the ball. After Hugh McCluggage’s opener, good work from the Club debutant - and AFL 100-gamer - Orazio Fantasia ended in a goal to Harry McKay, opening Carlton’s account for season 2024. However, despite the Blues shading the clearances and contested possessions in the first term, the quarter belonged to the Lions, who piled on six consecutive goals with the Blues’ backline under serious heat. In his first game back, Zac Williams found plenty of the ball with eight disposals in the opening term — the equal-most of anyone on the ground. The Blues found themselves without Sam Docherty for a portion of the quarter, with the midfielder heading down to the rooms for checks on his knee, but the veteran returned to the field. There was a clear focus from Carlton in the closing stages of the term to quell the damage, which they managed to do to see out the quarter: forward pressure from Ollie Hollands and Lachie Fogarty ended in the latter converting for the Blues’ second. McKay continued to provide a focal point, but with the Blues trailing inside 50s 21-9 against a clean Lions outfit, there was plenty of work to be done after the opening exchange.

Quarter two
The Blues looked to bring the fight back to Brisbane in the second quarter after the early heat applied by the Lions. The home side continued to make the most of their opportunities in the early going as they once again dominated forward territory, at one stage opening up a 46-point lead as the Blues struggled to generate any run. When Carlton needed someone to step up, it was the skipper who duly responded, ultimately accumulating 11 disposals for the quarter as he and George Hewett (nine disposals) did everything in their power to make the game a contest. It was an opportunistic goal from David Cuningham - where the Blues went from end to end after a scrappy Charlie Curnow assist - which provided a moment of respite, before the reigning Coleman Medallist hit the scoreboard in his own right. It was clearly a much improved second-quarter showing from the Blues, who showed their willingness to take the game on at every opportunity to get back in the game. The Blues’ dialled their pressure up with Ollie Hollands (six tackles) and Lachie Fogarty (five tackles) unrelenting in their defence, but the Blues still found themselves 31 points in arrears at the main break.

Quarter three
The Blues made a change at the half-time break, with Sam Docherty (jarred knee) replaced by sub Jack Carroll. The Blues set out to pick up where they left off in the second quarter — they achieved that, and then some. In his first game as co-vice captain of the Carlton Football Club, Charlie Curnow had an electric start to the second half, kicking the first two goals of the term inside the space of a minute. The Blues got their offence game off turnover well and truly going, piling on seven goals in the third quarter, and at one stage kicking eight consecutive goals for the game to hit the lead in the unlikeliest of fashions. Few had a bigger impact on the third term than the sub in Carroll, having six disposals at 100 per cent efficiency while also kicking his second goal in AFL football. After the Lions took the lead back, Harry McKay stood up with an almighty clunk and set shot to give the Blues the narrowest of leads at the final change.

Quarter four
It was always going to be a war of attrition in the final term, with the Blues spending plenty of tickets in their third-quarter break. No time was able to register consecutive goals in the final term, with Zac Bailey giving the Lions early only for captain Patrick Cripps to respond not long after. There was no holding back from either side on a muggy night at the Gabba, with the conditions - and the heat at the contest - making the Sherrin a difficult one to handle. Adam Cerra produced some crucial moments in close with nine final-quarter disposals, while Hewett continued to fight in a one-on-one battle with Lachie Neale, ending the night with 27 disposals — the most on the ground. When Charlie Cameron gave the Lions the lead again, the home side defended resolutely as hope looked to fade for the visitors. That was until McKay stepped up, taking a commanding mark on the lead and converting the set shot to put the Blues ahead by a point. It was a nervy final minute, but the Blues’ situational pre-season training held them in good stead, coming away with a famous one-point win.

Best: G. Hewett, C. Curnow, H. McKay, P. Cripps, A. Saad, L. Fogarty, A. Cerra.

Harry the hero as Blues produce epic comeback to stun Lions

Harry McKay has kicked the matchwinner as Carlton came from the clouds to defeat Brisbane by one point - By Michael Whiting at the Gabba

Harry McKay conquered the goalkicking yips and Carlton conjured one of the great wins in its storied history, overturning a 46-point deficit to take down Brisbane by a solitary point at its Gabba fortress on Friday night. Inspired by dual Coleman medallist Charlie Curnow and finished off by his partner in crime McKay, the Blues stunned the 33,367 local fans to win 13.8 (86) to 12.13 (85). With just 90 seconds remaining and his team trailing by five points, McKay took a powerful mark and went back to calmly slot the matchwinner from 45m. It was his third goal of the night and snapped Brisbane's 14 consecutive wins at its home ground. On a rough season opener for the Lions, they will also now sweat on scans for influential half-back Keidean Coleman, who sat out the second half with a suspected ACL tear. But all the plaudits should go to Michael Voss and his men, who had their own injury problems with Sam Docherty (jarred knee) also sidelined for the second half.

The Blues looked absolutely gone early in the second quarter after successive Lincoln McCarthy goals had them trailing by 46 points, but that's when the magic started in an extraordinary comeback. Curnow kicked four goals either side of half-time to turn the tide, forcing Brisbane to move Jack Payne off him and swing Darcy Gardiner, who was playing forward, into defence. The Blues slowed down Brisbane's ball movement, and with George Hewett (27 disposals), Adam Cerra (25) and Patrick Cripps (23 and a goal) arresting the midfield momentum, silenced the crowd with eight successive goals to snatch the lead. Joe Daniher stopped the rot with a towering mark to re-take the lead for Brisbane and set-up a mouth-watering final term.

The teams exchanged goals, with Charlie Cameron giving the Lions the lead with five minutes remaining, before McKay buried his demons to play hero. Brisbane could not have been more impressive in the first quarter, kicking seven goals to two to open a 32-point advantage. They were ferocious defensively, swarming Carlton with some bone-rattling tackles, and then swiftly swept the ball from half-back to advantageous positions for their forwards. Carlton's defence, missing injured Jacob Weitering, looked frazzled as the Lions' forwards found space and repeatedly got goal side of their opponents. Hugh McCluggage settled the early nerves with a superb set shot from the boundary line, before evergreen Dayne Zorko kicked a couple and Cameron got in on the party after a gift handball from Gardiner. Cal Ah Chee's exquisite snap from 40m after an expert front-and-square crumb was the highlight of the opening exchanges. Brisbane looked like romping to victory early in the second term with a 46-point lead, but Carlton wrestled back some control through goals to David Cuningham and Curnow, who had rarely been sighted until that stage.

Curnow puts the cape on
With his team seemingly out of the match and trialing by almost eight goals, it should be no surprise that Charlie Curnow put on his Superman cape to almost single-handedly turn the tide. He kicked one before half-time and then in a 10-minute burst early in the third, completely turned the game. He out-pointed Jack Payne three times for three goals to finish with four for the evening.

Best: C. Curnow, P. Cripps, H. McKay, G. Hewett, L. Young, A. Saad, A. Cerra

King Charlie is still the man

Dual Coleman medallist Charlie Curnow might have copped a touch of criticism for a quiet finals campaign last season, but if Friday night's performance against Brisbane is any indication, he should still be the most feared key forward in the competition. After barely touching the ball in the first quarter-and-a-half, Curnow completely flipped the game with 15 minutes of magic either side of half-time. He made light work of young Lion Jack Payne – who had the better of him at Marvel Stadium last season – to kick four goals in a hurry and start the fire for Carlton's remarkable comeback. In the air, on the ground - it doesn't matter for King Charlie. He'll be tough to beat for a third straight Coleman. – Michael Whiting

Connection the key in comeback win, says Voss

Michael Voss' post-match press conference was full of pride after the win over Brisbane. - By Carlton Media.

What a turnaround, what a win, what a game. Pride was the overriding emotion for AFL Senior Coach Michael Voss when speaking to media after Carlton's incredible one-point win over Brisbane. Trailing by 46 points midway through the second quarter, the Blues never lost belief, with an inspired surge in the third term setting up a famous Navy Blue win on the road. This is what Voss had to say.

On where the game turned:
“I felt like somewhere through the second quarter, we started to get some of our game together. It wasn’t all there, we were making so many mistakes and almost giving the ball back to them. When you get stuck in your back half, it’s a hard night to be able to defend — especially with Brisbane’s firepower. For it to live in their half, they will score. “We were able to work or way through that and get the ball more in our half, it started to live there for a little bit longer and we were able to turn the result around. We had seven or eight minutes in the second quarter which we could hang our hat on coming into the break, we doubled down on that message and thought that was the formula we needed to bring out in the second half. “For us to drag the scoreboard in, it goes to show what momentum can do in footy. When you’ve got it, it’s very hard to stop it.”

On McKay’s match-winning goal:
“He took his moment, he wanted it. When you find yourself in those situations, you want guys who want the ball in their hands. He well and truly presented that way the whole night and found out that at the end, he was involved in the contest and finished the play. “I get a bit sick and tired of hearing the nitpicking, to be honest with you. I’m a bit over it. We can be better than that. “Harry works on his game enormously hard and he has done over the course of the pre-season, he’s had a fantastic pre-season. He’s been in some unbelievable form, and I think we should be talking about that.”

On his pride for McKay:
“Very. It’s not just him, it’s all the players to be able to hold their nerve. There’s potentially a bigger issue that players aren’t playing that well, their roles are getting harder to perform, but they stick to what they want to offer the team. “They stay connected as a football team during really tough moments. We never lost the group, they stay quite positive throughout. We were able to get that little bit of momentum and that little bit of a look, we were lucky enough to be there at the finish. Amazing win, an amazing win. “Talking about the conditions, there’s different conditions, with the ground they haven’t lost here since 2022 and to have the scoreboard against you and the quality opposition you’re working with. We had to work through a bit, and to be able to finish in front was incredibly impressive.”

On where the win ranks:
“Finals always rate quite high, but in terms of being able to deliver in a home-and-away game, I don’t think there’s been any better. That’s incredibly difficult. An away venue, the opposition, the time of the year, all those factors get piled into it. We’ll go the course, we’ll move on from this game in 48 hours — as professionals, we have to do that. But we’ll remember this day. We’ll remember this day as a team.”

On Sam Docherty’s injury, and role players stepping up:
“It was a jarred knee. We’ll explore that during the week. I thought Jack Carroll coming in was impressive. Again, he’s had a really good pre-season. He’s been knocking on the door — next man in. “It’s another example of a squad mentality, I feel like we’ve had this for guys to come in and play roles and get their jobs done. Young was good down back, Kemp did a great job, they held their nerve. It was coming down a lot in that first half, I thought our backs were under fire but they were able to hold.”

On what the win could mean:
“It gives a lot of belief. It’s hard to tell at the moment, they’re things where you look back in retrospect and say that was a really significant moment. What we will do is enjoy it for what it is, and when we turn up for work in two days, we’ll look at it with a real set of eyes about what worked and what didn’t. “There’s things which we clearly need to go to work on, we didn’t start very well but we were able to work our way back in. We’ll look at the game and move on. We haven’t got a lot of time, so that’s probably a good thing. “If you need to be woken up, Round 1 versus Richmond is a reasonable game to be walking into. We’ll shift our eyes forward, but it’s important in moments like these to enjoy these wins for what it is.”

On Charlie Curnow’s impact:
“Particularly impressive. He certainly did turn it on. That’s his strength: if he doesn’t get you in the air, he’ll get you on the ground. If you feel like you’ve got him for three quarters, he only needs 10 minutes, and that’s the special nature and excitement factor he brings. “I’ve been really impressed with his off-season. He wanted to put his hand up to be in a leadership position and take some more ownership over this team and the direction it’s going in. He was as positive as anyone out there and was able to stay present to the group and connected to the group, and he got those rewards.”


B: 17 Brodie Kemp 33 Lewis Young 42 Adam Saad
HB: 11 Mitch McGovern 24 Nic Newman 6 Zac Williams
C: 13 Blake Acres 9 Patrick Cripps (c) 4 Ollie Hollands
HF: 46 Matthew Cottrell 30 Charlie Curnow 8 Lachie Fogarty
F: 14 Orazio Fantasia 10 Harry McKay 28 David Cunningham
Ruck: 12 Tom De Koning 5 Adam Cerra 15 Sam Docherty
Interchange: 7 Matthew Kennedy 29 George Hewett 37 Jordan Boyd
44 Matt Owies
Substitute: 16 Jack Carroll
Coach: Michael Voss
Emergencies: 27 Marc Pittonet 39 Alex Cincotta 25 Jaxon Binns

Sam Docherty was subbed out at half-time with a knee injury, he was replaced by Jack Carroll.


50 Games: Matt Owies
Debut (Carlton) and 100 Games (AFL): Orazio Fantasia

Interesting Facts

1. Carlton had lost their last nine games at the Gabba before this win.
2. The Lions entered this game on a 14-match win streak at the Gabba and having won their last five encounters against the Blues.
3. The Blues hadn't won at the Gabba since Round 9, 2013, but have kicked 11 of the last 14 goals to come back from a 46-point deficit to win.
4. This was Carlton’s 2nd 1 point victory during the first game of the season with the other in Round 1, 2001 against Fremantle at Subiaco, they have also lost one by a point during Round 1, 1927 against South Melbourne at Princes Park and also drawn seven times in the first game of the season.
5. Carlton’s last 5 victories have all been by a goal or less.
6. Harry McKay's nerveless winner capped off the second-largest winning turnaround in Carlton's history, ranking only behind the Blues' stirring win over arch-rival Essendon in Round 3, 2007.
7. The 46-point deficit that the Blues overhauled at the Gabba ranks 11th among games played since 2000.
8. The Blues' win in Opening Round is the AFL's biggest winning comeback since 2015 when the Saints defeated the Bulldogs after trailing by 55 points.

Front Runners

Matt Cottrell 15.2 km
Oliver Hollands 15.0 km
Harry McKay 14.2 km
(Stats courtesy of Blue Abroad)


10 - Harry McKay (CARL)
6 - Charlie Curnow (CARL)
4 - George Hewett (CARL)
3 - Lachie Fogarty (CARL)
3 - Darcy Wilmot (BL)
3 - Josh Dunkley (BL)
1 - Blake Acres (CARL)

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Best and Fairest Votes


2024 | Round 1
Contributors to this page: Jarusa , Bombasheldon , blueycarlton , WillowBlue and molsey .
Page last modified on Saturday 06 of April, 2024 03:23:23 AEDT by Jarusa.

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