Murphy set the tone with his hard-running and clean use of the ball in the first term and this continued, while Cripps was arguably best afield, his dominance in the contest ensuring more Brownlow Medal votes. Harry McKay’s emergence continued. Manned by defensive stopper Sam Collins, the latter in the headlines this week over an incident with Tom Lynch, McKay’s hard leading, general presence and two goals in the first half helped to give the Blues momentum.
Jack Martin, returning from a sore calf and playing his first match against his former club, was also busy across half-forward. Jacob Weitering, now one of the league’s best defenders, silenced Ben King and Sam Docherty patrolled a resolute defence but the Blues were helped by a Suns’ unit that was too often static and lacked their usual willingness to take risks and attack through the centre corridor.
Skipper David Swallow, in his 150th match, only the second Sun to celebrate that milestone, battled hard. Midfielder Jack Bowes and Jack Lukosius found plenty of the ball, more was needed from Lachie Weller while Izak Rankine’s casual bunt for goal which hit the post on the cusp of three-quarter time summed up a dirty night.
Heading into a second “footy festival” from Thursday for rounds 14-17, the Blues now face a must-win clash against Collingwood at the Gabba on Sunday week.
PARTNERS IN CRIME
Jack Newnes and Michael Gibbons found themselves in the headlines during the week. Newnes for his match-winning goal against Fremantle, Gibbons for being the man who should have taken the free kick that led to the stunning goal. The two forwards found themselves interconnected again on Friday night when a Newnes handball to Gibbons in space led to the latter converting the Blues’ opening goal. A week after his boundary heroics, Newnes’ first set shot for goal – from about 40 metres on a slight angle – went out on the full. But he would go on to be one of the Blues’ best.
Eddie Betts had been goalless over the past month but brought the pro-Carlton crowd to their feet late in the second term when he put the exclamation mark on a dashing run along the boundary by Zac Fisher. Betts spoke all week about the cultural importance of this round to him, and he was at his lively best all night, although he dropped a few marks.
The Blues went in with two ruckmen, retaining Tom De Koning, who impressed against the Dockers, and the returning Marc Pittonet. De Koning’s athleticism is a sight to behold, and his strong mark in the first term was praised by Wayne Carey on Seven’s commentary. The 21-year-old is one player the Blues know they need to get time into. Pittonet, 24, is also in future plans, meaning there could be a tough call made on off-contract veteran Matthew Kreuzer.
SUNS FAIL TO RISE
The Suns were held scoreless for the first time in an opening quarter, the first time the Blues had done this to an opponent since round 21, 1997 in a 35-point win over Sydney (Brad Pearce booted five goals).
GOLD COAST SUNS 0.0 2.0 3.2 4.3 (27)
CARLTON 1.4 5.7 6.11 7.18 (60)
Gold Coast: Weller, Lemmens, Rankine, Flanders.
Carlton: McKay 2, Gibbons 2, Betts, Curnow, Newnes.
Carlton: Murphy, Cripps, Martin, Weitering, Newnes, McKay, Docherty, Plowman.
Gold Coast: Bowes, Greenwood, Lukosius, Swallow.
Deboy, Findlay, Fleer
Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.