|Venue:||Marvel Stadium, Docklands.|
|Date:||Thursday 24th March, 2022 (7.20 pm).|
|Result:||Won by 12 points.|
|Goalkickers:||C. Curnow 5.0, H. McKay 4.1, J. Silvagni 2.1, P. Cripps 2.0, Z. Fisher 1.0, M. Kennedy 1.0, M. Owies 1.0, L. O'Brien 0.2, L. Fogarty 0.1, Rushed 0.1.|
|Reports:||Zac Williams was charged with Tripping (Fixed Financial Sanction) the Western Bulldogs' Aaron Naughton during the first quarter of Round 2. Williams can accept a $1000 sanction with an early plea.|
|Umpires:||Brett Rosebury, Hayden Gavine, Nathan Williamson.|
|Injuries:||O. McDonald (back), P. Cripps (eye).|
It was Hansen's Blues, and there was plenty of MMMBop at Marvel Stadium. Stepping in for an absent Michael Voss on Thursday night, Ash Hansen masterminded a masterclass. A hardened Carlton withstood everything thrown at it against last year's Grand Finalists, the Western Bulldogs, grinding out a 12-point victory. After a summer spent preaching team-over-individual, the Blues had part-timers filling vacancies in the coaches' box and on-field contributors in every phase of the game to edge to a significant 16.6 (102) to 13.12 (90) win. Patrick Cripps (35 disposals, 11 clearances, two goals) continued an outstanding start to the year to once again establish himself as the game's best player, while Sam Walsh (34 disposals, five clearances) was prolific in a brave comeback performance.
Charlie Curnow looked like the Charlie Curnow of old, kicking five goals to go with 16 disposals and four marks. Most pleasing was the partnership he formed with Harry McKay that Carlton has long dreamed of, with the reigning Coleman Medal winner chipping in with four goals of his own to complement 15 disposals and 12 grabs. The Bulldogs, now 0-2 to start the year, had started slowly but made a contest of the game in the second half. Jack Macrae (34 disposals, five clearances) won the footy at will, while Tim English (24 disposals, 21 hitouts, one goal) was arguably their best player. But this was a night about Carlton, whose resurgence was reflected by Curnow's performance.
The young key forward had himself set the pace of the game when he snapped truly within 20 seconds of the bounce. It kickstarted a frenzied, ferocious quarter of football where Carlton made most of the running. Three straight goals midway through the first term, combined with four more to start the second, opened a 31-point lead by the main break. But the Blues had thrown away a sizeable lead to the Dogs in a frustrating loss last year, and threatened to do likewise again. A careless off-the-ball free kick against Mitch McGovern sparked a run of four Bulldogs goals out of five to start the third term, as the deficit was quickly whittled back to just 12 points. Carlton needed a steadier. If Curnow's third was just the tonic, then his fourth – a classic set-shot from deep inside the forward pocket – was enough to have the Blues faithful dreaming of their first 2-0 start in a decade. The Dogs fought valiantly. Marcus Bontempelli converted a composed shot, Mitch Hannan snapped a bending effort around his body, while a number of others missed gilt-edged opportunities. But a newfound sense of maturity saw Carlton pass its next test with flying colours.
Quick comeback sparks speedy Sam
It was hard to believe it had been just 38 days between Sam Walsh suffering a syndesmosis injury and his remarkable comeback game on Thursday night. Walsh's performance was almost just as incredible as his speedy return, with the reigning Blues best and fairest producing a dazzling display to emerge as one of the game's most influential players. Walsh had 10 disposals to quarter-time alone, before finishing with 34 touches that complemented five clearances, four tackles and seven score involvements. With the COVID-stricken Adam Cerra set to return in round three, the Blues' midfield is growing more dangerous by the week.
Dogs can take heart despite gloomy start
The Western Bulldogs are 0-2, but they have been here before. Of the 63 teams that have started 0-2 in the AFL era before this season, only eight have made finals. The Dogs, having done so in 2020, are one of them. Losses to Melbourne and now Carlton to start the year isn't ideal, but Luke Beveridge has roused his team from positions like these before. What's more, of the eight to have made finals from 0-2 starts, three were achieved last year when Brisbane, Greater Western Sydney and Essendon did so. It's going to be a tough task, but you can never write off this Bulldogs outfit.
Carlton's COVID blues prove no issue
With senior coach Michael Voss, football boss Brad Lloyd, midfield coach Tim Clarke and important playing duo Adam Cerra and Jack Martin stuck in the AFL's health and safety protocols, there had rightly been concern over Carlton's focus leading into Thursday night's clash. It proved no issue. With development coaches Dan O'Keefe and Torin Baker filling line duties through the midfield and forward line respectively, and with retired former great Kade Simpson volunteering on the bench, every Blue was asked to step up. One-game interim coach Ash Hansen filled in for Voss in the big chair and led Carlton to one of its most satisfying wins in recent memory.
Best: P. Cripps, G. Hewett, C. Curnow, H. McKay, S. Walsh, M. Kennedy, Z. Fisher.
Two from two. A blistering first half set the scene for Carlton's second consecutive win to open the 2022 season. Kicking out to a 36-point lead and spearheaded to victory by a formidable forward showing from Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay, the Blues were made to do it the hard way, holding off a rampant Bulldogs in the second half.
The Blues definitely had more of the ball in the first term, leading the disposals and clearances for the quarter. Carlton started with a bang after a snap from Charlie Curnow in the first 30 seconds of play. Mitch McGovern and Jacob Weitering made their presence in the defensive half known early, using their height and aerial abilities to keep the Dogs at an arm's length. Carlton’s midfield brigade picked up where they left off last week, winning the ball straight from the centre and moving it quickly up the field. A running goal from Jack Silvagni evened up the contest, after the Dogs kicked two quick goals of their own. In an impressive play that started across half back, Carlton was able to surge the ball forward which resulted in a Matthew Kennedy goal, followed quickly by Harry McKay’s first. Adam Saad used his speed and penetrating kick to make an impact across half back while Patrick Cripps was rewarded for a clean tackle with a goal. A late goal cut the Blues' first-term lead to seven points: it could have been just two, if not for Aaron Naughton hitting the post on the siren.
It was end-to-end play at the start of the term, with neither side able to capitalise on their forward 50 entries. Cripps continued his already dominant performance, snapping his second goal on the run while sporting a bandaged head, then setting up McKay’s second almost immediately. Matt Owies took advantage of a Tom De Koning free kick, putting the Blues 20 points ahead after some extremely clean play out of the centre bounce. A second Curnow goal truly put the game on Carlton’s terms, as the Western Bulldogs struggled to slow their momentum. Oscar McDonald stood up well down back as the Bulldogs started to bite back, but they couldn’t stop McKay taking a huge contested mark in the goal square for his third. Sam Walsh made his presence known in his return from injury, laying strong tackles and providing his trademark class in the middle. McKay added to his impressive goal tally, before Fisher showed his class with ball in hand as the Blues took a 31-point lead into the second half.
The Bulldogs started the third term hungry, playing in their forward half and scoring a goal through Bailey Dale. Carlton’s defence, led by Weitering, calmed the storm, moving the ball slowly and deliberately out of their back 50. A big grab and goal from Silvagni saw the Blues get back in the game but things started to get physical and heated in the Dogs’ forward line. Carlton struggled to move the ball forward, with the Western Bulldogs able to stop the Blues' run around the centre square. McGovern and Docherty had some big moments for the Blues down back, with their intercept marking coming up trumps late in the term. Curnow’s third goal of the game came at the right time, as the Western Bulldogs edged towards a single-digit deficit. While Carlton was able to finally get some territory, it was unable to convert when it mattered most, taking an 18-point lead into the final change.
A Marcus Bontempelli goal opening the term was not how the Blues wanted to kick off the final quarter. Carlton was well in need of a spark to keep their game going, as both sides started to play desperate and physical footy. An impossible set-shot goal from Curnow might’ve done the trick, as he brought Blues fans to their feet at Marvel Stadium. The Dogs got one back to make things tight, but Curnow delivered yet again, pushing the Blues out to a three-goal lead with 10 minutes to play: it was Curnow's fifth of the night. Four misses in a row from the Western Bulldogs helped Carlton, but they were still playing dangerous football in their forward 50, with Aaron Naughton giving the Blues’ defenders big trouble. When the game was there to be done, it was Matthew Kennedy who stood up, producing 15 disposals in the final term alone as the famous song rang out at Marvel Stadium to celebrate a Navy Blue win.
Three things from the game
1. There's been a lot of talk about the dynamic duo of Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay. Tonight, it played out exactly how Bluebaggers would have hoped, with the pair of talls combining for nine goals: their most as a pairing since joining the Club in the 2015 NAB AFL Draft.
2. There was plenty of ball sharing around the centre, with Cripps, Hewett and Walsh all collecting over 30 disposals. Reminiscent of their play last week, and with the inclusion of Walsh, the Blues' midfield work was responsible for a lot of their forward 50 entries and clearances, particularly early in the game.
3. It was a different game to last week, but when the Blues were challenged, they responded once again. On this occasion, it was holding onto a lead, as opposed to surging past the Tigers in Round 1. It wasn't always pretty, but come the final siren, the Blues were 2-0 after a hectic week at IKON Park.
Best players: P. Cripps, C. Curnow, M. Kennedy, H. McKay, G. Hewett, Z. Williams, S. Walsh.
|B:||42 Adam Saad||23 Jacob Weitering||15 Sam Docherty|
|HB:||11 Mitch McGovern||39 Oscar McDonald||6 Zac Williams|
|C:||43 Will Setterfield||9 Patrick Cripps (c)||4 Lochie O'Brien|
|HF:||25 Zac Fisher||30 Charlie Curnow||19 Corey Durdin|
|F:||44 Matthew Owies||10 Harry McKay||1 Jack Silvagni|
|Ruck:||27 Marc Pittonet||29 George Hewett||18 Sam Walsh|
|Interchange:||7 Matthew Kennedy||8 Lachie Fogarty||12 Tom De Koning|
|24 Nic Newman|
|Medical Substitute:||20 Lachie Plowman|
|Emergencies:||12 Paddy Dow||32 Jack Newnes||46 Matthew Cottrell|
Substitute: L.Plowman (replaced O.McDonald) at half-time.
In; Sam Walsh, Lachie Fogarty, Lachie Plowman (Medical Sub.).
Out; Adam Cerra, Jack Martin (both Health & Safety Protocol - Covid-19), Tom WIlliamson (Medical Sub. - Unused).
Michael Voss had to withdraw from the position as Senior Coach for this match due to AFL Health & Safety protocol in which he contracted Covid-19. As a result Forward Line and Offensive Coach would step up into this position for this Round 2 clash with the Western Bulldogs. Hansen would make his debut as a Senior Coach in this match.
2. This was the first time since Round 20, 2014 vs Gold Coast Suns that the Blues had kicked 11 goals in the first half of a game.
3. This is the first time since the 2012 season that the Blues have won their opening two games of the year.
4. Harry McKay took a career-best 12 marks during this clash, he had taken 11 marks on 4 previous occasions.
Last Game: Oscar McDonald
6 - Harry McKay
6 - Charlie Curnow
4 - George Hewett
2 - Sam Walsh
1 - Bailey Dale (WB)
1 - Jack Macrae (WB)
Round 1 | Round 3,