In a game riddled with basic errors, Carlton achieved their first win for the year against a bumbling Fremantle.
But this was not to be. Highlights and positive passages of play were few and far between, as both teams muddled and fumbled their way around the vast expanses of Domain Stadium oval. By half time the Dockers were one point behind Carlton and the Blues could sense they had a chance to win for the first time this year. Before half time, the Dockers' Brownlow medalist, Nat Fyfe re-injured the leg he broke in last year's preliminary final while Haydn Ballantyne was struggling with a corked leg. The Dockers were playing a brand of football that Carlton could easily repulse. Throughout the game, the teams matched each other for contested possession and clearances. The Dockers were marginally ahead in overall possessions and marks and led the way with tackles. The rucks were evenly matched, with Jon Griffin and Zac Clarke competing against Carlton's Matthew Kreuzer. Both teams used straight-line attacks, where they moved the ball directly down the field, without their players spreading across the oval to allow for more horizontal ball placement. This allowed the opposing defenders to set themselves to spoil marks and move the ball out of defense. It was basic football, and not attractive as a spectacle.
Carlton's Marc Murphy, Patrick Cripps and Bryce Gibbs were a class above their teammates in the midfield, but the Carlton players closer to goal were mostly unable to take advantage of their work. For the Dockers, Lachie Neale, Stephen Hill, Michael Johnson and Michael Walters were effective players; but the exhausted Dockers finished the game with Fyfe, Johnson, and Ballantyne unable to compete; and Neale hampered by a calf injury. Next week Carlton meet Essendon at the MCG. Given Essendon's current difficulties, Carlton would be expected to win easily. Based on their performance against the Dockers, only an optimist would see them challenging most other teams. The Dockers also are in dire trouble. They will have to play Adelaide without Fyfe, Johnson and probably Ballantyne. Their game plan is in tatters and despite the imminent return of captain David Mundy, several of their key players are injured. Coach Ross Lyon has conceded that the team is unlikely to make the finals. With two challenging weeks in front of him, he may soon find himself in the position where he has no choice but to adopt a long-term view and play most of his younger players. Carlton have already passed that point, but they have a long way to go before they will see sustained success.
Fremantle: 2.5 4.8 6.12 9.14 (68) Carlton: 2.5 4.9 6.10 10.12 (72)
Fremantle: Neale, Johnson, Hill, Spurr, Walters
Carlton: Cripps, Murphy, Curnow, Gibbs, Thomas
Article last changed on Monday, May 28, 2018 - 5:36 PM EDT