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Hooker Battles Cox (2019)

It was a warm sunny day at the MCG, with the late 3.20 PMM start meaning that most of the game would be played in the shadows of the stands. Coming into this match Essendon were 14th and Carlton were 15th on the AFL ladder.  A solid crowd of 57,447 witnessed the match. Anthony McDonald Tipungwuti kicked the opening goal of the match as Essendon looked slick early.

Mitch McGovern and Sam Walsh kicked the next two goals to show the Blues fans they were up for the fight and much of the quarter it was an even competition.  But Essendon got their running game happening and Cale Hooker evened things up on the scoreboard.  With Essendon on the rampage, it took a big mark by Eddie Betts in the goal square to keep the Blues in it. He landed heavily with the ball and limped back to kick the goal.

Essendon were dominating possession and racking up the uncontested marks. Stringer and Jones capitalized on this, both kicking goals for the Bombers before Tipungwuti kicked his second. The former Bomber's player Adam Saad copped boos from the Essendon fans every time he got the ball and when he kicked the next goal for the Blues it was no exception, but the Bombers quickly replied again through Tipungwti and lead by 14 points at quarter time. 

Tipungwuti's three goals and the free running style of the Bombers were the difference in the first quarter and may have been eclipsed only by Peter Wright, who was probably the best player on the ground at quarter time with both hit outs and marks giving the Bombers the majority of control.\ p>Devon Smith got the Bombers on the scoreboard first with a 53-meter kick for goal from a set shot and it looked like they might blow out the match. But from then on it was the Blues who dominated the quarter, they quickly returned fire with Cunningham snapping on his right boot for a goal after Saad's good work up the ground.

Harry Jones beat three Carlton defenders to take the contested mark and kicked the goal from 38 meters out to steady the Essendon ship.  

Matt Owies kicked his first goal for the Blues and the game suddenly looked competitive again. Carlton came again with Saad once again the catalyst running and kicking the ball long over the top to Eddie Betts, Eddie dropped the mark and played on to kick the goal, his second for the match.  And Ed Curnow put the Blues within a point just before halftime with a high kick from 45m out in the pocket which just carried over the defender's hands.  

The Blues reaped the rewards of locking down across the ground to shut down the Bombers run, and their better ball use contributed to the turnaround. At half time the lead to the Bombers had been reduced to just one point. The Blues took the initiative in the third quarter and set themselves up with a good chance to win.  Saad continued to be a force up the ground for the Blues and sent the ball forward early in the third term with a long kick and Harry McKay marked 15m out and kicked around the body to put the Blues in front. Owies marked 20 meters out and kick his second. 

Hooker uses his height up forward to get above his opponents and kicks his second goal from 25 meters out but the Blues continued to look dangerous, soon after Lachie Fogarty runs onto a loose ball kicks a low skidding kick for quick reply.

Essendon were able to wrestle back control to kick the next two.  The Bombers dumped the ball to the hotspot, Jones marked over the pack and kicked his third and then Tipungwuti regained the lead for the Bombers when he soccered the ball in the goal square for six points. 

But Carlton would not be outdone and Owies, marked and with the aid of a 50-meter penalty and kicked a goal - which is followed by a melee.  The game could not be restarted until the 6-6-6 spacing requirement was met for the ball up. Then Eddie Betts, deep in the pocket 40 meters from goal kicked his third goal with an accurate set shot snap around the body.

Curnow long kick from the wing on top of Harry McKay's head, he marks strongly and kicks the goal from 40 meters out straight in front and giving his team a 16 point lead just before three quarter time. But there was still enough time for the Bombers to get the ball to Hooker to snap on his right foot from deep in the pocket to goal. Then Casboult took a kick after the siren, but it was touched on the line meaning it was an 11-point lead to Carlton going into the last quarter.

The Bombers needed a good start in the final quarter and Jake Stringer made that happen, pushing off Stocker to mark, and kicking confidently and successfully for goal. But the Blues held firm and kicked the next four goals. Fogarty kicked his second for the Blues when the Cox untidily tried to clear the ball from the goal square to the front of the pack and then Harry McKay marked on the lead and stretched the lead out 16 points. 

The umpire picked out a free kick to McKay who was held in a big pack mark situation, and he made no mistake from 30m out, his fourth goal for the day. Back at the ball up a rampaging Patrick Cripps bolted out of the center clearance and inside 50 to kick a long goal and almost guarantee his team the victory. 

Jake Stringer pulled the margin back to 22 points roving the pack and drilling the kick home, and Hooker kicked two more goals for the Bombers but it was too little too late for the Bombers. Cunningham put the final nail in the coffin with a minute to go and Harry McKay missed an opportunity to take the lead in the Coleman medal after the siren but missed to the right.  

In the end it was a 16-point win to the Blues who looked to be outclassed in the first quarter but were able to close down Essendon's ability to win the ball uncontested around the ground.  Walsh, Curnow, Cripps, and Saad worked tirelessly to the end to give the Blues enough opportunities up forward to win the game particularly in the second half.

Essendon: 6.4 8.7 12.8 16.11 (107)
Carlton:  4.2 8.5 14.7 19.9  (123)

Essendon: Hooker 5, McDonald-Tipungwuti 4, Jones 3, Stringer 3, Smith
Carlton:  McKay 4, Betts 3, Owies 3, Cuningham 2, Fogarty 2, Cripps, Curnow, McGovern, Saad, Walsh

Essendon: McGrath, Hooker, McDonald-Tipungwuti, Stringer, Perkins
Carlton:  Walsh, Saad, Curnow, Cuningham, Cripps, Weitering

57,447 at the MCG

Article last changed on Sunday, May 02, 2021 - 4:44 PM EDT

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