Sunday, July 09, 2006

Round eleven

My selections

Geelong over Essendon
Kangaroos over Richmond
Sydney over St Kilda
Port over Hawthorn
West Coast over Carlton
Adelaide over Brisbane
Western Bulldogs over Freo
Melbourne over Collingwood

The Old Blue Stager Report

West Coast 111 d. Carlton 101(alternatively West Coast defeated Carlton by three minutes).

Carlton produced their best performance for a season and a half, succumbing right at the death. While in part the way the game unfolded was attributable to a notably lacklustre performance for much of the afternoon by the Eagles, it was particularly heartening for the long-suffering Blues' fans.

Make no mistake, West Coast are a very good side. Even in the absence of the glittering talent of Chris Judd, they have multiple stars - Cousins, Embley, Hunter, Cox, Kerr, Wirrpanda, Chick et. al. - they are very well-coached, and they are virtually unbeatable at Subiaco.However, Carlton matched them for three and a half quarters - and outplayed them for much of that time.

The striking feature of the Carlton performance was that players who are regarded as woeful kicks found targets, marks were held, opponents were run down. This improvement in skills emphasised the importance of confidence. Particularly pleasing was the fact that players who've been given up as hopeless were solid contributors. Wiggins, Russell, McGrath, Betts all gave reason to hope that they might make the grade. While these players were significant contributors, Murphy, Whitnall, Scotland, Thornton, Fevola and Walker were the dominant influence on the match.

Unfortunately, fatigue told in the finish, and a five goal lead half-way through the final quarter was insufficient to withstand West Coast's superb finish.There was plenty of lamentation among the half-empty glass section of the Blues' faithful - How could they lose from 44 points up?, What were "they" doing up in the coaches' box?

Your correspondent prefers to accentuate the positive. There was evidence on display that beating Carlton might once again mean something, some time in the future.

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