For a side positioned as young, this is a mature midfield with Cripps, Murphy and Curnow. Kade Simpson in defence and Betts in attack. Weitering is in his prime and McKay is emerging fast. It is a demographic that should be playing finals.
There was one team that wanted the win more and it was not Carlton. It was a terribly disappointing performance.
The win for the Magpies can reposition the side as some of their missing stars return. They have banked wins while players are out and just started to turn the corner.
Carlton now must win each of their last four games and still cross their fingers to sneak into the eight, given their percentage.
Sure, no one expects them to go all the way so missing the eight is not a lost flag. But it is a lost opportunity. Finals would reinforce the idea of growth. It would have given young players experience and expectation for the next pre-season.
Finals would also alter the idea of how close Carlton is to contention for potentially interested free agents or recruits.
That is not scuppered by this loss, nor by missing the eight, but it certainly won’t help. For all the steps forward Carlton has taken – and they have taken several – this was a day they stumbled.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION
The AFL will now install goal-line cameras at each AFL venue.
Why? Why now? Was it tacit admission the critical Christian Petracca goal was a mistake?
The decision is to ensure consistency at all grounds. Great. How has this only just dawned on the AFL?
In effect, it only means the cameras will be installed in Cairns for the final rounds. But a decision had previously been made not to do so at all grounds – like Alice Springs on Saturday night – seemingly due to the cost in this impecunious season. Now that decision has been reversed. Has the AFL found some money or is this a belated consideration of integrity and fairness?
So far this year, we’ve had new goal-line cameras brought in late, a new holding the ball interpretation from early in the season and a new dangerous tackle rule hastily passed by the AFL Commission mid-season (and then summarily ignored by the AFL’s own tribunal).
The true consistency of the season is that rules and conditions have changed regularly.
The new cameras won’t give absolute certainty to decisions because the vision they provide is often blurry and inconclusive. But at least it will give consistency to that uncertainty.
We have been here before with Gary Rohan. The speed, the strength, the build like Patty Dangerfield. He has the tools that say he is more than tradesman.
In the second half in Friday night’s win over the Bulldogs – like his team he was quiet in the first – he gave the Cats a target and vibrancy. With Dangerfield’s critical influence in the centre, Rohan became the critical difference ahead of the ball.
He still drops too many marks he gets his hands to, but he does get to those packs and he does bring the ball to ground. With his speed he is also one of the better defensive forwards. He was a magnetic presence on Friday and raised the question of how important he can be in a finals campaign.
But we have been here before with him and, even due to injury or inconsistent form, he has not followed through. If this is the moment he can string the games together at this level of performance he gives the Cats a different look and shape. He makes their forward line more fluid and unpredictable.
Richmond continue to win and impress on the field, but off the field they are a mystery.
This weekend things went to next-level 2020 ridiculousness when a story appeared quoting the father of the wife of the Richmond captain (himself an ex-player) defending his daughter – and son-in-law – against the actions of the AFL and the Tigers.
Richmond was then stridently defended by … the wife of their CEO.
Michael Gleeson is an award-winning senior sports writer specialising in AFL and athletics.