The reborn Carlton Blues shocked the Fremantle Dockers with a thrilling last gasp victory that left the Dockers vulnerable to dropping out of the top eight. The inspired Blues’ third win moved them from the bottom of the ladder and have now won two of their last three games. The Dockers have lost their last two games against teams sitting in the bottom three on the ladder and will rue their second quarter, where they allowed Carlton to dominate the game for long periods.
In the wet slippery conditions both teams concentrated on moving the ball forward at all costs. The football was not pretty, but player desperation and acts of courage lifted the spectacle. Honors in the ruck were even, with Fremantle’s Sean Darcy matching the combination of Matthew Kruzer and Levi Casboult. Fremantle had experienced players and bigger bodies in the midfield to dominate Carlton for most of the first quarter. The brute power of Nat Fyfe and David Mundy, supported by the skill of Michael Walters, gave the Dockers and edge in clearances.
When Carlton did go forward, they missed shots they should have kicked. Fremantle locked the ball in attack for long periods as Carlton struggled to find a path out of defense. Marc Murphy and Sam Walsh fought hard but could not break free of the early Docker mid-field pressure. Cameron McCarthy, returning to the Dockers to replace the injured Jesse Hogan, booted two good goals and Brandon Matera, Nat Fyfe and Michael Walters kicked one apiece to have Fremantle sitting five to zip at the first change.
In the second quarter it was Carlton who locked the ball in their own attacking zone. When the ball went forward of center, they dropped one or two players across the middle to form an impassable defensive wall against the Dockers.
Carlton’s goal front accuracy improved with majors to Michael Gibbons and Sam Petrevski-Seton from marks; and then Paddy Dow read the ball off the back of a pack to kick truly. Their next goal started on the wing with Matthew Kennedy also reading the ball off a pack and handballing to Paddy Dow. Dow’s kick found Mitch McGovern who dropped a mark against Walters but recovered to snap truly. The Dockers rallied late in the quarter with Matera breaking loose across half forward and booting to the goal square, where Brennan Cox read the ball off hands and snapped a much needed steadier, which left the Dockers up by ten points at the main break.
Carlton, through the work of Marc Murphy, Sam Walsh and Eddie Curnow gained the edge in clearances in the third quarter, as the Blues locked the ball in their forward half for the first 14 minutes. In that period the game became a desperate struggle as the Dockers flooded players into defense but couldn't rebound with an attack. Crucially, Carlton’s Levi Casboult and Kennedy both coolly slotted goals from free kicks, to give the visitors a one-point lead. To finish the quarter, Cam McCarthy again sparked the Dockers, with two good marks and long goals from the boundary line to restore the home team’s lead of 12 points at the final break.
The final stanza began with Carlton pushing forward, only to score three behinds (worth a point each). At the five-minute mark Lochie O’Brien hacked a kick out of a pack which was marked in the pocket by Jack Silvagni, who made no mistake with his shot on goal. A chain of Fremantle hand-passes then released Fremantle’s Darcy Tucker, whose forty meter goal gave a quick response from the home team. For ten desperate minutes neither team gave an inch. Connor Blakely played his best game for the Dockers, since returning from injury, and Ed Curnow was a contested possession ‘beast’ for the Blues.
The Dockers eventually worked the ball forward again and McCarthy shot a bullet pass to Walters who marked and goaled. It seemed with just six minutes to play that Walters’ had once again sealed a win for the Dockers. Carlton would have none of that.
They refused to be intimidated and when a defensive kick from Docker defender Ethan Hughes floated out on the full, Kade Simpson slotted the free kick from the boundary to reward the Blues' belief. An intercept mark on the wing and a quick pass to an unattended Matthew Kennedy, who marked and goaled with four minutes to play, brought Carlton back within two points. Pushing forward again, the inspired Blues were buoyed when Dale Thomas swooped on a ball at the back of a pack to put Carlton four points up, with just over two minutes and 49 seconds left on the clock. A minute later the Dockers drove forward. McCarthy centered to Walters but Carlton’s Lachie Plowman spoiled Walter’s attempt to mark. Sam Switkowski scooped the crumbs and snapped truly to grab the lead for the Dockers. Carlton won the next center clearance and scrambled the ball forward. Twenty meters from goal, Casboult used strength to break two tackles and handball away from a pack of Dockers. Zac Fisher tapped on to Marc Murphy, who sensed a smother from Griffin Logue, balked, and then snapped an outstanding check-side kick to slot the match winning goal. The Dockers failed to clear from the next center bounce and Carlton soaked up the last thirty seconds to register their best win of the season.
Next week Carlton return to the MCG to meet fellow cellar dweller, Melbourne. The Dockers remain at Optus to play a crucial Derby against West Coast. A loss to the Eagles could see the Dockers out of the top eight.
Scores Fremantle Dockers 5.2 6.3 8.8 11.9 (75) Carlton Blues 0.3 4.5 6.8 11.13 (79) Best Fremantle Dockers: Fyfe, Blakely, Tucker, Langdon. McCarthy Carlton Blues: Murphy, Walsh, E. Curnow, Newman, Petrevski-Seton
Article last changed on Tuesday, August 20, 2019 - 8:05 PM EDT