Welcome to the Blue Review for Round 4
Carlton once again played in front of a big crowd, this time in the (almost) traditional Saturday afternoon timeslot. Carlton’s recent record is very good against Essendon – winning two and drawing one in the 3 games played in 2011. 73,172 fans turned up to the MCG in perfect conditions, Carlton went into the game as $1.10 favourites while Essendon were rank outsiders at $7.50.
Carlton 11.13.(79) def by. Essendon 15.19.(109)
Match Committee & Selection Panel
The news filtered through around 5:30 that Dennis Armfield’s knee had not recovered in time, which meant that there would be at least one change to the Carlton side that beat Collingwood in Round 3. Rumours were rife on Twitter that Brock McLean would be included in the Carlton side – so all Carlton fans eagerly awaited the confirmed teams – and much to my (and their) dismay, Brock McLean was included in the 22.
IN: Brock McLean
OUT: Dennis Armfield (knee)
Unfortunately, this was a bad, bad decision. Losing Armfield was bad enough, but replacing one of the quickest players on the list, one who is a very, very good utility and has been playing excellent football in the first rounds with the slowest player in the history of the AFL was horrid. Armfield can play on the dangerous small forwards because of his elite pace, he can also play as a forward and aide Betts and Garlett. He toughed it out against Collingwood, but just wasn’t able to pass his fitness test for this game. Aaron Joseph or David Ellard should have replaced Dennis Armfield.
On to the next part of the selection panel – the starting substitute… what does Brock McLean offer as the sub exactly? Nothing – which is what he offers in general anyway, but that’s irrelevant for now. Brock isn’t going to break a game open with leg speed and elite ball use. It was a bizarre decision to include McLean anyway and then to name his as the sub… well, that was even more Bizarre. Ratten has been pretty good with his team selection and use of the sub, but this was ordinary.
The Key Battles
Andrew Carrazzo vs. Jobe Watson
Carrazzo started on Jobe, who knows what could have happened but Carrazzo lasted all of 5 minutes – attacking the ball on the half forward flank with Bomber Sam Lonergan, Carrazzo was in the front position and Lonergan made no attempt to win the ball, his true intent was to drive Carrazzo into the turf and he succeeded, whether or not he was out to hurt Carrazzo is up for debate (in my opinion, he clearly was) but he drove Carrazzo hard into the MCG turf and Carrazzo played no further part in the game, astonishingly Lonergan was not suspended for his heinous assault on Carrazzo.
Eddie Betts vs. Kyle Hardingham
Hardingham had the better of Betts, despite Eddie kicking four goals (of which one of them was from a dubious free kick), Eddie really didn’t influence the game. He got a couple of goals in traditional Eddie style, roving the pack and running into an open goal, but the game was well out of reach. Betts, who is traditionally strong in the air but Hardingham was very good at reading the ball in-flight and out positioning Betts and being able to outmark him.
Kane Lucas vs. Brent Stanton
Ratten… what on earth is going on here? Stanton had the ball on a string and did what he pleased, often with no-one near him at all. While Lucas was serviceable, he’s not the player you send to run with Brent Stanton. Stanton who is an elite ball getter as well as being an elite link man, often used from kick-ins to get the ball into midfield – Lucas cannot prevent this, his fitness is not up the standard of Stanton… Ratten clearly didn’t have a plan B for Stanton (well, a plan C, presumably Carrazzo would have been plan B).
Heath Hocking vs. Chris Judd
There was never any doubt that Hocking would go to Judd – he did and he continually pushed, bumped and niggled Judd at every contest. Judd still won a bit of the ball, but he wasn’t able to burst from packs and win centre clearances like he had been doing in the first three rounds. While Hocking had no offensive impact on the game, he definitely curtailed Judd’s impact and that helped Essendon get an early advantage in the clearances and contested possessions.
Carlton’s back line vs. Essendon’s forward line
Carlton went into the game with Henderson, Jamison, Bower, Duigan and Laidler as key defenders, with Yarran running off the half back line. Essendon went in with Hurley, Crameri, Ryder, Jetta, Davey and rotated the 6th forward between Zaharakis, Monfries and Dell’olio. Henderson went to Hurley, Bower went to Crameri and Jamison took the resting ruckman (Ryder started forward). Crameri got well on top of Bower early, while Ryder didn’t have an impact as a forward and Hurley didn’t really. Carlton’s tall defenders weren’t the problem this time, it was Essendon’s small forwards who got well on top of their opponents (and this is where replacing Armfield with McLean was a huge mistake).
Nothing could be done about the pace of Davey and Jetta, Carlton had no options – Laidler (who injured his knee early and toughed it out) and Duigan struggled with the pace and Yarran’s attacking play was severely limited by having to play defensive. There was no Plan B or C or D… and it showed. Carlton’s small defenders were smashed and smashed comprehensively. (As well as whoever was playing on Crameri).
The Ruck Battle
Matthew Kreuzer and Shaun Hampson had started the season exceptionally well, beating their opponents comprehensively leading into R4. Maric, Leuenberger/Hudson and Jolly/Wood had no answers for the athleticism of Kreuzer and Hampson, but it was a different story against Essendon. Bellchambers (who is getting an extended run in the side thanks to the injury to David Hille) is taking his chance, he started in the ruck against Kreuzer and never looked like getting beaten – he’s an excellent tap ruckman, but people query his work around the ground, but he was outstanding. As was Ryder when he played in the ruck, his athleticism can easily match Kreuzer and Hampson (who had no impact on the game at all), while Kreuzer is still good around the ground, if he’s not winning taps to advantage, he finds it hard to get himself into the game. Essendon had 48 hit outs to Carlton’s 36.
Jarrad Waite vs. Cale Hooker
Waite’s performances in the first three rounds have been outstanding – he found himself up the ground a bit as per usual and he got his hands on the ball a lot, but he was inaccurate when kicking for goal which hurt Carlton’s chances at winning. 20 possessions and 13 marks would seem a very, very good game for a CHF, but he didn’t really have an impact on the goal due to his inaccuracy. Waite kicked 3 behinds, but they were all very gettable goals and he missed a few at crucial times.
The loose man vs. The loose man
What on earth was Ratten playing at here? Bryce Gibbs started as the loose man in defence for Carlton and was utterly useless. What was Ratten’s plan here? 2 full days later and I’m still unsure as to what purpose Gibbs actually had playing as the loose man? He wasn’t stopping anything – he wasn’t creating anything… he just ran around like a headless chook and did nothing. As if it wasn’t bad enough that Carlton’s number 1 tagger was subbed out of the game after 5 minutes and Brock McLean came on – but Essendon’s loose man was up at every stoppage, creating an extra number and allowing Essendon to win almost every clearance. Essendon won the ball with ease, spread from stoppages and had free men everywhere, the run and carry was outstanding and Carlton’s loose man was in no-mans land because Essendon just kicked the ball over his head. This was a horrible tactic from Ratten and he only decided to bring Gibbs up to the stoppages in the last quarter and to no-ones surprise Gibbs had an influence on the game, winning plenty of the ball and kicking a goal. Are you surprised Brett? Well… you shouldn’t be… Bryce can actually play good football in the midfield.
Andrew Carrazzo’s injury was the start of a horrible, horrible day for Carlton.
The 2nd Quarter
Essendon kicked 4.5 to Carlton’s 3 behinds in the 2nd quarter to break the game open. Carlton had no answer to Essendon’s midfield dominance or forward dominance. There was nothing that could be done, Carlton’s team was horribly unbalanced and Ratten had no plan B. Not much could be done because Ratten’s poor team selection, but that’s neither here nor there.
The 3rd Quarter
Carlton kicked the first goal of the 3rd quarter and got the margin back to 22 points, before Essendon kicked the next 4 goals of the game and Carlton didn’t kick another goal for the quarter. Essendon went into 3/4 time with a 47 point lead and it seemed extremely unlikely that Carlton would be able to get back in the game.
Angus Monfries goal in the 4th quarter
After Chris Judd goaled at the 20 minute mark, the deficit was reduced to 24 points the difference, Essendon unsurprisingly won another clearance and Angus Monfries goaled 1 minute later, extended the margin to 30 points and icing the game for Essendon.
What Went Right?
Lachie Henderson played another good game on Michael Hurley, which is an excellent positive for Carlton fans, as well as Jarrad Waite getting through another full game without getting injured or reported. Kade Simpson was very good and Marc Murphy had another good game.
What Went Wrong?
Everything. Carrazzo, Laidler, Curnow and Yarran all picked up injuries – Carrazzo had to be subbed out and will miss 6-8 weeks as a result, while Laidler’s knee injury looked pretty bad, but he toughed it out and played through. Curnow rolled his ankle and had an injection at quarter time and played through it as well, while Chris Yarran strained his hamstring late in the game and tried to play on but could barely move. The tactics were poor from Ratten, the players had poor games.
In-game Tactics & Sub
I don’t want to keep going over the same old stuff, but Ratten’s tactics were horrible – while Essendon were dominating the stoppages, Bryce Gibbs was doing nothing as the loose man behind the ball. Ratten had no answer to Essendon’s small forwards. The choice of sub was poor from Ratten and he had no choice to bring McLean on after 5 minutes when Carrazzo went down. But that is beside the point, McLean is an awful footballer and had no right being on the ground.
Overall, an F. Ratten was out-coached by Hird, he struggled big time against a coach who had a gameplan and implemented it perfectly.
Highlight of the Day
Marc Murphy’s left foot snap in the first quarter.
Jarrad Waite makes a contest and brings the ball to ground.
Marc Murphy picks up the loose ball.
Murphy sells Hooker some candy.
Burns off Dyson Heppell with great legspeed.
Murphy snaps truly on his left foot.
3 votes: Brent Stanton
Stanton absolutely dominated, 36 possessions and 17 marks, he had the ball on a string and dictated terms to Carlton.
2 votes: Stewart Crameri
Crameri had 11 shots for goal, kicking 5.6, he also had a sensational game – beating every Carlton defender who went near him.
1 vote: Jobe Watson
A ton of clearances, 31 possessions and just doing what he pleased through the midfield.
Dream Teamers & Super Coaches
Marc Murphy: 114 DT & 120 SC
Kade Simpson: 124 DT & 119 SC
Heath Scotland: 97 DT & 113 SC
Mitch Robinson: 102 DT & 86 SC
Bendigo 7.5.(47) def by. Northern Blues 21.21.(147)
Northern Blues had a massive win over Bendigo, with 42 scores shots to 12, they notched up a 100 point win. Aaron Joseph and Jordan Russell played, but weren’t outstanding – while David Ellard was in the best, along with Andrew Collins. Robert Warnock played and kicked two goals – he’s a chance to return to the side along with Collins and Ellard against Fremantle. Interestingly enough, Bret Thornton didn’t play in the VFL.
Dylan Buckley (finger, 4 weeks)
Andrew Carrazzo (shoulder, 6-8 weeks)
Ed Curnow (ankle, test)
Marcus Davies (shoulder, 8 weeks)
Jeremy Laidler (knee, test)
Andrew Walker (quad, 1 week)
Simon White (knee, 8 weeks)
Chris Yarran (hamstring, test)
IN: Armfield, Ellard, Warnock, Joseph
OUT: McLean, Yarran, Curnow, Carrazzo
Walker is still a week away, so he may play VFL this weekend – but Armfield should get over his knee injury, Ellard deserves a place in the 22 after another best on performance in the VFL and Robert Warnock could be given a chance with Kreuzer to play against Sandilands while Hampson plays as a permanent CHF. Aaron Joseph has to come in and play as the tagger (or play on Ballantyne)
McLean wont play on the wide open spaces of Subiaco, Yarran has a hamstring injury and should not play, while Curnow may get a rest with a sore ankle (as he and Ellard play the same role), while Carrazzo is definitely out with his shoulder injury.
Hopefully Laidler’s knee isn’t too bad and he plays, he is crucial to Carlton’s defence.