The Old Blue Stager
Hawthorn 113 d. Carlton 90
A weird curate's egg of a performance by Carlton. The first half was as poor as anything served up this season - and there's certainly some hot competition in that category.
Then the Blues with a spirited second half hauled back much of an eight goal deficit; with about six minutes left they were within three goals, and offering unjustified hope that they might achieve a victory, which would surely have been a robbery to make a bushranger blush. In the event sanity and fairness were served, as Hawthorn steadied and kicked two of the three goals scored during the dying minutes of the match to secure a victory which their afternoon's work thoroughly merited.
If the previous week's victory over Melbourne represented a significant step forward for Carlton (in the past five seasons there have been very few Carlton wins against opposition in contention for the flag), last Sunday's first half was a shocking reversion to the mean. The eight goal margin at the long break barely did justice to the Hawks' complete dominance of the match. Hawthorn completely controlled the midfield, and there were numerous Carlton players AWOL. The match was played almost exclusively in Hawthorn's attacking half.
After half-time the Blueboys' stiffened resolve was evident, although it took a long while for this to yield significant scoreboard impact. Hawthorn had extended the lead to 55 points with the first two scores of the second half, and were still more than eight goals ahead 23 minutes into the third quarter. Carlton scored four goals (and several behinds) on either side of the three-quarter time break, while Hawthorn managed only three behinds. From that point on, it became a struggle with the question of whether the tiring Hawks could hang on. In fact each side scored three goals (without another minor at either end), to end the contest with the margin exactly as it had been at the 12 minute mark of the final quarter.
Mitchell and Crawford each had a picnic, and Franklin was an effective go-to player in the front half for the Hawks. Lappin played a lone hand for Carlton in the first half, and on a day when Murphy's law seeemed to afflict the Blues, it was no surprise to see the little veteran assisted from the field a few minutes before half-time. he returned and was still a serviceable player in the second half. Fevola was the outstanding player in the revival. He was very fortunate to have three goals to half-time, thanks to some unusually generous umpiring decisions, but he added another five in the second half to almost ensure one (minor) accomplishment for the club in 2006. He now has a stranglehold on the John Coleman medal. Whitnall, Scotland and Bannister contributed in the first half and were significant influences in the improved showing after half-time.
Preview of Round 19
Collingwood this week. Having watched the Adelaide v. Collingwood game on TV it is hard to judge what will happen because it was a pretty boring game apart from the closeness of the scores. The last time I saw ring-a-ring-a-rosy played was at primary school—that just about sums up the game. The Collingwood runners will worry Essendon, but if Hird can play at his best, and Lucas maintains his form Essendon is in with a chance. It is essential that Essendon get off to a good start.
Review of Round 18
Back to the real world this week. Sydney were simply too good, although Essendon started very well and if those two early “posters” had been goals it may have put a different complexion on things. However, given that Sydney is now clearly mounting a serious defence of their premiership, Essendon’s performance may not have been as bad as it looks.