A huge Saturday of AFL action was capped off with Carlton winning an absolute thriller against arch rivals Essendon by one point at the MCG tonight.
In what was a see-sawing affair all the way through, the Bombers got out to a game-high 12-point lead in the final term (which underscores just how tight the game was) before the Blues reeled them in gradually.
Jacob Townsend had the chance to be the hero for the Bombers, but his set shot from 50m out with seconds left in the game fell short and was touched on the line.
Carlton’s last three games have been decided by a total of four points, and they have now won their last two games by a total of three points! Spare a thought for the heart health of Carlton supporters!
St Kilda was a big winner today as well with a dominant performance against reigning premiers Richmond, running out 26-point victors at Marvel Stadium in the twilight game.
The Saints had all the answers all day long and were never genuinely threatened by the Tigers in what was a very impressive performance by Brett Ratten’s men.
Former Tiger Dan Butler came back to haunt his old club with a superb three-goal performance to be one of St Kilda’s best.
Port Adelaide, led by Charlie Dixon’s six goals, continued their perfect start to the year, making it four wins from four games against a very disappointing West Coast who produced another poor effort.
The Eagles look like they are absolutely hating hub life and their latest performance, a 48-point loss to the Power, was the biggest indicator yet.
West Coast are now 1-3 and if they’re not careful, their season could be over soon given it’s only a 17-game campaign.
Meanwhile, the good news story of the year, Gold Coast, made it three wins on the trot against Fremantle at Metricon Stadium tonight.
Led once again by young star Matt Rowell, the Suns pulled away from Freo late to win by 13 points and consign the Dockers to an 0-4 start to the year.
Incredibly, the Suns are second on the ladder!
Thank you for joining our rolling coverage today, join us next Saturday as we do it all again in round five. Good night.
Here are some questions from David Teague’s post-match press conference…
Q: How much belief last week and this week give them already? How much belief does it give them?
A: You’ve got to win these games and you’ve got to be in them. Probably for too long we haven’t been in those games. It’s great that we’re getting there. The boys reckon they’re ageing me very quickly. We will see how we go there. It’s good. It’s really good. I think they stuck strong when they got two goals behind. We’re doing a lot right. We just weren’t finishing our plays. I think it’s the experience from playing if the close games.
Q: At half-time you looked like you were having so many chances.
A: We were playing the way we wanted to play and we were down in the first half. I think in the second half we had 30 tackles where we weren’t doing that. We were trying early but we just weren’t firing. It was more keep doing what we’ve been doing. The goals will come. I am never one to put too much heat on the boys missing the goals. No-one ever means to miss on purpose. So, no, it was more stay calm. We know we’re fit. We can run.
Q: McGovern seems to be getting better, week by week?
A: He was really important for us. Some of his contests, his smarts, you can see how he sets up teammates in space. His teammates are valuing the role he plays for the side right now. And they’re often competing against a plus one down there and I thought it was one of his better games for the club.
Q: Casboult as well he was huge.
A: I don’t think too many of them will be maligning him over the last sort of 18 months. His belief, his confidence, his respect amongst the group and even for Sam Philp felt to get his jumper. Levi gave him his jumper. He’s been outstanding. He’s competing and it was a moment – he was ready for the long kick down the line and the next minute he is over the other side of the ground. He is an elite runner and that allows him to get to more contests. Losing Jack Silvagni, we needed more guys. I thought Essendon’s ability to mark the ball was very good. At times we just needed to get to ground to pressure and I thought some of the contests from Jack Martin and David Cuningham down there, even our smalls trying to get the ball to ground, that gave us time to bring the pressure.(Inaudible).I haven’t seen it back.
Q: Betts wasn’t happy about it [the 50m penalty to Adam Saad].
A: He cares a lot about the team and sees himself as a leader. I am not sure what happened but he was disappointed that he gave away 50.
Q: Do you think it was 50?
A: We did mention it was a long 50 but it doesn’t make too much of a long difference. They’re doing what they think is right. And we will back them in.
Q: David Cuningham, was that his best game?
A: Yeah, potentially. He’s powerfully explosive and we have a lot of belief in him. He probably had the continuity and today we saw some of the class and the skills that he has. He probably – he normally finishes his plays really well and he is probably disappointed he didn’t because he holds himself to a high account. I thought as a collective, I thought Will Setterfield was strong when he went through the midfield. He gave a bigger body in there. Ed Curnow keeps getting his job done and we’re not relying on one or two. It’s an even spread and it will be hard for us as coaches to pick a better few players.
Q: For so long it’s been a lot relying on Patty Cripps. How important is the sharing of the load and getting it done when he is not at his best?
A: It’s extremely important. You can’t rely on one player. You need a group, you need a team to go out there. Particularly the way we structure, we play real offence, defence, so we need everyone to play their role for us to be at our best. One of Cripps’ great strength is he learnt when we went to Freo and won without him there are other guys who can play for him. He probably often felt he had to carry the load. Now he understands he has teammates who can help them and he is willing to give them those opportunities which makes him a great leader.
Q: Had an update on Jack Silvagni?
A: Haven’t heard too much. I am probably guessing bruised lung, maybe, along those lines.
Q: Is this a team, David, that should be pushing for finals?
A: Look, we have to play our best footy, and that is what we’re focusing on each week. We feel we can compete and win. I am not going to put a number on our wins and losses. But we want to hold ourselves to the way we go about it and the way we execute. I thought effort-wise, particularly after the slowish start with our pressure, I thought our effort was really good. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We have to finetune a lot of areas of our game but I think our players are starting to believe in themselves and others which is a powerful thing.
Carlton veteran Eddie Betts also chatted to Channel Seven after the game…
Q: You’re flying, mate. You’ve got another five years in you the way your form is
A: As long as I don’t leave the 50m, I will be OK. I pulled up OK. It was a tough game. The last three games or four, I didn’t play round one, but the last three games have been tough and close. It’s good that we got the win in the end.
Q: Talk us through that 50m penalty [paid to Adam Saad at the end]. You weren’t happy. Did you think it was there?
A: You tell me. I got blocked twice before I even got there. I got hit twice.
Q: I thought once he played on that you had every right to go after him and then you got infringed upon twice. What did the umpire say?
A: He said it was a new rule. I have never heard of this new rule.
Q: Neither have we.
A: He gave a 90m penalty, not 50! How far are they running? Mate, I was like, I can’t watch the Townsend kick. I had to turn away. If I had watched that I would have given my own feedback.
Q: It fell short and I think you deserved to win, you were probably the better team all night.
A: We put the pressure on from the start but we didn’t lose our composure in the last quarter. We knew if we stuck to our structures and going forward, it’s funny to see a ruckman running out of the centre and kick it forward. [Marc] Pittonet has been fantastic. He’s been dominating and big Levi Casboult has been really surprising as well, just clunks everything. He has to drop a few down forward so I might get into him and tell him to drop a few for us.
Q: We just love watching you play. We love seeing the smile on your face. You had a tough week. And for you to share so openly the struggles you’ve been through and your extended family, it’s a courageous thing.
A: Thanks, guys. I just want to say thanks for all the support around Australia, with the players, the PA, especially all the players in the AFL. They have shown their support which is fantastic. Hopefully we can make change going forward and it’s not going to be quick but it’s working closely and slowly so the support has been fantastic this time around.
Q: Tell us how much footy you’ve got left in you. At times last year everyone was starting to wonder, is this incredible career getting towards the end but you are flying at the minute within your own body and composure. Mentally, how much more footy can you play?
A: I will keep playing until my speed and form say that I can’t play anymore. I just want to play my role and help my teammates out. If I’m doing that and the coach is happy with that, I am happy. We’ve got some good young talent and high-end talent. We are looking exciting this year. So we will see how we go this year. I am on a one-year contract but I am just focused on week after week and keeping my body right.
Q: A good win down at Geelong last week. No-one wins down there. You’ve been part of successful teams. How good is this Carlton team moving forward? Do you think you can challenge this year?
A: We went down to Kardinia Park and we led from the start. No-one has done that since 2001. But speaking to the younger kids, all I want to do is believe in themselves and believe that we can win. Not just going out hoping we’re going to get it. But go out and believe. I told them when I played for the Crows we knew we were going to get it done, no matter where we are. Hopefully these young kids can believe they can beat any side, anywhere. Two wins will help.
Q: You’ve been away and come back to the Blues. It would be a different footy club now you’re back. Tell us about Michael Gibbons. He is a man who fascinating me.
A: He is like he’s on – he’s like some energy drink. He just keeps going and going. Sometimes I want him to shut up but he is good for the group. He gets us going and he is playing exceptional footy for us. He’s getting up in the midfield. Racing back forward and for a guy that played in the VFL for most of his career, to come and play the role that he has in AFL level has been fantastic. Hopefully he can continue to have a long career.
Q: You’re closing in on what is an incredible achievement. You’re six goals away from 300 and you join Buddy Franklin and Tony Lockett as the only two players to do that at two different clubs. Just another milestone to tick off.
A: How many?
Q: You have six to go.
A: As long as they kick me the ball!
Essendon star Dylan Shiel was interviewed by Channel Seven after the game, here’s a bit of what he had to say…
A: We just went through some numbers then and we got beat pretty convincingly in the contested ball numbers and the clearance numbers towards the end. It was pretty disappointing but we will learn.
Q: Does that lead to – we saw a stat throughout the night where you just weren’t getting any disposals in your forward 50. You wouldn’t keep it in forward 50. You wouldn’t keep it in — couldn’t keep it in there at all. Does that flow on from the next lot of people getting to 2 next contest?
A: It certainly felt like that. They [Carlton] were really good. The midfield being able to outnumber and get to work back and help out the defence, the defenders set up really well. So it was a greasy night so we weren’t able to get slick inside 50s and good entries so it was a real wet weather type of game, contest to contest. Certainly felt like it.
Q: I know you don’t like to make excuses. But did you sense with only the one game in such a long period of time and the week you’ve had, did it have any impact on the group at all?
A: No. We were ready to go tonight and we had our preparation was fine and we trained well during the week when we did. We just got outworked and outbeaten by a better team tonight.
In case you missed it, Freo skipper Nat Fyfe injured his hamstring against Gold Coast tonight, adding insult to injury to the Dockers’ loss – their fourth in a row to start the season.
An old Blue Boy still watching on proudly from afar
A cricketing legend was definitely happy with that result
Casboult tied the scores up after taking this mark… but was it a mark?
The Carlton boys sing it loud and proud…