Welcome to the Round 6 edition of the Blue Review.
After playing in front of a packed Subiaco against Fremantle and picking up the four points in a tight, tough contest, Carlton returned to the Victoria prepared to play its first game at Etihad Stadium for season 2012 against the ever-improving GWS Giants.
Carlton will be quite disappointed with the crowd of 28,213, but it’s not a surprise considering the early time slot on a Sunday afternoon and considering the opponents and the fact that no-one associated with Carlton likes Etihad Stadium.
Carlton 15.20.(110) def. GWS 6.7.(43)
Match Committee & Selection Panel
For the first time this season, Carlton selected an extended squad – 3 players were left out ‘injured’ on Thursday, before the final teams were confirmed on Friday afternoon.
Initial Team Changes
IN: Bower, Ellard, Collins, Warnock, Bootsma, McLean
OUT: Judd (soreness), Waite (hip), Kreuzer (knee)
I was happy to see Ratten being proactive and using the perfect opportunity to rest key players for this game. Geelong have used this tactic to perfection over time and just look at the end result in 2011. Carlton couldn’t afford to rest players late last season as we were in the hunt for a top four place and needed to win, but with a solid start to the season under the belt, Ratten decided it was time. The ins, for mine, were irrelevant, we all knew who would play in place of the players who had been left out.
News on Friday was bad for Carlton, Robbie Warnock, who had impressed in the VFL hurt his hamstring and was withdrawn from the squad (along with Andy Collins), which meant that the desired rest for Kreuzer was now on the back burner. Kreuzer made a miraculous recovery from the knee injury which saw him excluded from the original squad.
Kreuzer and Watson were included in the extended squad, in place of Warnock and Collins.
At 4:30, Carlton made the (now) two changes that every one expected.
IN: Ellard & Bower
OUT: Judd & Waite
Ellard deserves his opportunity and Bower was left out of the team that beat Fremantle after a poor game against Essendon, he also earned himself another chance. These were the two changes I expected and would have been severely disappointed if McLean played instead of Ellard.
Ed Curnow was announced as a late out on the afternoon of the game, replaced in the selected side by Josh Bootsma. Bootsma, a 19yo from South Fremantle in the WAFL would be making his AFL debut.
The Forward Set Up
Without Waite, there was a different look in the forward line. Thornton played the entire game forward, as did Betts and Garlett (but they didn’t have an impact on the game). Kreuzer and Hampson spent a bit of time forward as they normally do, while Paul Bower played as a forward in the 2nd half. Walker rotated from the forward line through midfield, while Mitch Robinson played entirely through the middle without Chris Judd. Hampson was the best of the Carlton forwards on the day, kicking 3 goals and working well around the ground, while Walker had a few opportunities to kick goals, but his usual accurate kicking had deserted him.
Ratten wont be worried about Betts and Garlett, as it’s no secret that the two don’t play well at Etihad Stadium.
The New Look Midfield
Carlton went into a match without Chris Judd for the first time since R14 2008 (a win against Richmond) – Marc Murphy was not yet 21 years old when that game was played, so this was a big test for the now matured and elite Murphy, who was expecting to get a fair bit of attention from the GWS midfield. A hard tag didn’t really eventuate, with Kade Simpson seemingly getting the attention from James McDonald – but Murphy still found it very hard to impose himself on the game. He still finished with 27 possessions, but in general, had no impact on the game.
Mitch Robinson played 100% midfield time and was excellent. He puts his head over the ball and wins a hard ball when needed and also spreads well and plays as a link man when that is necessary, he enjoys his midfield time, we know he can get his hands on the ball and lay a tackle, so he enjoys the body contact as a midfielder. He picked up 28 possessions (the most at Carlton and equal most for the game) as well as kicking a goal.
Kade Simpson struggled early, but got well on top towards the end of the game. His ability to run and spread is up there with the best in the competition and he loves to run and carry the ball. Playing in his 150th consecutive game, he didn’t let the Carlton fans down, picking up 25 possessions and kicking 2.2, he was arguably Carlton’s best player on the day.
The Game Plan
It looked as though Brett Ratten wanted to be physical and show GWS who was boss early in the contest – this may have worked against the weaker bodies of the GCS, but it wasn’t the right tactic against GWS, they may be young, but they’ve already shown they love playing hard, tough contested footy and don’t take a backward step. Even though they have a few kids, they put their head over the ball, they aren’t afraid to give a bump or two back and they don’t back down from a contest.
GWS came to play and Carlton didn’t. GWS smashed the Blues in the clearances, although without Judd, this wasn’t that unexpected, but Ratten would be a bit concerned with the effort the Blues put in. Seemingly just turning it on and off whenever they pleased. Carlton’s game plan is not built around stoppage after stoppage and bullying their opponents, although Carlton are a strong stoppage team, the spread, leg speed, run and carry is the strength of the club, after someone extracts the ball from a stoppage, something Carlton were unable to do against GWS.
As a young side, errors will be made and Carlton punished GWS in that regard, scoring plenty of goals as a result of turnovers, which hurt GWS on the score board and dented the confidence of the younger players. Overall, I think Ratten got the tactic of trying to be overly physical with the young team wrong and should have just played to Carlton’s strengths.
GWS tried to stretch the Carlton defence by starting Phil Davis forward. Henderson and Jamison were prepared to match up on Giles and O’hAilpin, but I don’t think Nick Duigan was expecting to get Phil Davis, although Ratten has every confidence in Duigan, he would have prepared for a small. With Bower being used as a bit of a swing man, Duigan was left on Davis for the first quarter. The Carlton defence wasn’t really tested – GWS’s ball use into the F50 was quite poor all day and Henderson and Jamison did basically what they pleased. With a better side, this tactic might work against Carlton, especially with both Thornton and Bower spending considerable time forward in recent weeks.
Carlton never really looked troubled and never got out of 2nd gear until the 4th quarter. It’s hard to pinpoint a key moment or two when the game changed or the momentum turned. Carlton shouldn’t have needed a key moment as GWS should never have been in the game, Carlton had 35 scoring shots to GWS’s 13 and to think that GWS were only 4 goals down at 3/4 time is a bit of a blight on Carlton and the 67 point win really did flatter Carlton as GWS were held scoreless in the last quarter, mostly thanks to Dean Brogan and Setanta O’hAilpin being injured. Brogan was subbed off at half time with a wrist/arm injury while O’hAilpin hurt his knee (now a confirmed ACL injury) in the 3rd quarter.
Use of the Sub
I thought giving Henderson a rest at 3/4 time once Phil Davis had to do a bit of ruck work was smart – bring in Bootsma and let him have a run off half back/on the wing, get his hands on the ball and not worry too much about his own performance. It worked well, Bootsma got his hands on the ball – and the crowd loved it, cheering his every possession like they did when Chris Judd played his first game for the Blues. It was a sight to see (and hear). Henderson got a bit of a rest after playing a good game and in the end, GWS didn’t score in the last quarter, so Henderson wasn’t needed.
What Went Right?
Mitch Robinson stepping up in Judd’s absence and playing a great game. Henderson and Jamison again continued to form a great partnership in the backline. Kade Simpson had an excellent game after a slow start and David Ellard slotted back into the midfield like he hadn’t been away.
Josh Bootma’s debut! The crowd loved it, cheering his every position, the teenager with curly blonde hair and a raking left foot is already a cult figure at the Blues, despite playing a quarter of football, look for him to continue to get the same appreciation in his next couple of appearances.
Shaun Hampson’s return to form. After a couple of down weeks, Hampson showed just how far he has come. It seems getting the laser eye surgery really has turned his career around, he’s consistently taking marks and kicking goals, which is an added bonus for Carlton, his tap ruck work is quite good and he finds his midfielders.
A good final quarter against an undermanned GWS, extending the lead to 67 points, although it flattered the Blues, it’s a decent percentage booster and there were no casualties in the win.
What Went Wrong?
Not a lot, I guess a lot of people had hoped Murphy would tear the game apart without Judd, but he didn’t really have an impact, he continues to find the ball, but he just looked off the pace without his captain.
The ball use was very poor, a lot of people expected GWS to be poor by foot considering the young team, but for Carlton to do it is inexcusable, if Carlton want to be contenders, they must work on their footskills, they’ve been poor in a few games this season and Brett Ratten wont be happy.
Highlight of the Day
In a pretty dour game, there weren’t many highlights. Shaun Hampson went up for a mark and took the ball out of Sam Reid’s hands, turned, took a couple of steps and kicked a goal, that could be considered a highlight, as well as any of Josh Bootma’s possessions and the crowd reaction, but Paul Bower’s goal probably takes the cake.
Bower intercepts a kick from GWS on the defensive side of the centre circle.
Plays on immediately and takes a bounce.
Takes a second bounce.
Bower kicks under pressure from two GWS players.
The goal umpire signals a goal.
3 votes: Mitch Robinson
Stood up in Judd’s absence, won plenty of the ball himself and spread well and linked up well, equal game high possessions and also kicked a goal.
2 votes: Kade Simpson
Tagged early and struggled, but slowly got himself into the game and had an impact, kicked 2 goals while picking up mid-twenties in possessions.
1 vote: Shaun Hampson
A breakout game for the big Hammer, no coincidence it comes at the same time Thor is saving earth with his hammer. 31 hit outs, 15 possessions and 3 goals, it was a superb all round game from Hampson.
Dream Teamers & Super Coaches
Mitch Robinson: 123 DT & 128 SC
Another outstanding game from Robbo in both forms of Fantasy Football, with injuries to Fyfe and Goodes recently, you really should have Robinson in your side for R7.
Kade Simpson: 123 DT & 113 SC
A very handy unique option in midfield, takes lots of marks and looks to kick at all times, scores goals too.
Shaun Hampson: 103 DT & 115 SC
Up against a weak GWS side, don’t look into this too much, Hampson will be be back to scoring 70′s again soon enough.
Marc Murphy: 94 DT & 89 SC
A relatively poor game from Murphy considering his start to the season, but he’ll be back to his best next week when Judd returns.
The Northern Blues had the bye.
Changes for R7
IN: Judd, Waite, Yarran and Curnow
OUT: Ellard, Bower, Russell and Bootsma.
Unfortunately for the guys being omitted, it’s not performance related, they all had decent games (Bootsma had a good quarter). Bower and Thornton are fighting for one position, given the fact that St. Kilda are playing 3 KPP rotating as ruckmen, they both wont be needed and I think ultimately at this point, Thornton’s doing more as a forward and can move back if needed.
Ellard had a super game, but I don’t know if he and Curnow can occupy two spots in the team, Curnow was excellent before being a late out on Sunday and deserves his spot back, while this is nothing against Ellard, Ratten now knows it can count on Ellard to slot straight back in the side when he is needed.
Bootsma is really a non-factor here, it was great that he got a run and he’ll be itching for another game in the future and may get a chance if injuries occur or we rest a few more later in the year, but for now – he’ll be happy with his debut and happy with the knowledge that the fans absolutely love him.
Russell is only occupying a spot until Yarran is fit and he’s expected to return this week. Reports say he could have played on the weekend, had it been an important game, he may well have. He’ll definitely play against St. Kilda and Jordan Russell is simply not best 22 anymore, Joseph will most likely keep his spot to play on Milne, so that leaves Russell…