The Fremantle Dockers played the complete team game to be convincing winners over the Carlton Blues at Optus Stadium. Both teams started cautiously by playing along the boundary lines when defending and attacking. The Dockers’ ruckman Sean Darcy had a slight edge over Carlton’s Marc Pittonet at bounce downs but Carlton’s midfielders Patrick Cripps, Sam Walsh and Adam Cerra combined well to give Carlton first use of the ball. The Carlton tactic was to kick long and high to their twin towers in attack, Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay. The Dockers lined up with three tall men in the last line of defense with Alex Pearce, Brennan Cox and Griffin Logue intent on punching the ball to prevent marks (catches).
The first quarter was an even tussle, with Matthew Owies snapping Carlton’s first goal when the ball hit the ground after a ruck contest in the forward pocket. The second goal brought Curnow into the game when he marked a centering kick from Jack Martin and kicked truly. Pittonet injured his knee in a ruck contest and retired from the game, which then gave Darcy the chance to dominate in the ruck.
A minute later Harry McKay injured his knee and came of the ground. With two big men missing Carlton’s game plan was thrown into disarray. McKay returned later in the field, but he was obviously hampered by his injury. Rory Lobb took a strong pack mark to boot the Dockers’ first goal with 4 seconds remaining on the clock.
The second quarter started like the first. Carlton were stronger in the stoppages with Cripps, Walsh and Cerra winning clearances, the Dockers were forced to attack from defense. A free kick to McKay put Carlton further in front when he kicked truly. From that point the Dockers dominated the score board. When the Carlton midfielders gained possession they were put under immense pressure from the Docker tacklers. In every area of play the Docker pressure inhibited Carlton’s ability to get clean delivery forward. Pearce, Cox and Logue dominated in the last line of defense and James Aish and Jordan Clark ran the ball into attack from the half back line. The Docker game was based on quick transitions forward where the last player to receive had time and space to kick accurately to a lead or boot a goal. Small forward Michael Walters and Lachie Schutz booted two goals each and big men Lobb and Darcy booted two from marks.
The Dockers continued their pressuring of the Carlton midfielders in the third quarter. Carlton got plenty of the ball but were always under pressure when kicking or handpassing. The Dockers used blistering pace to break the Carlton attempts at pressure and used run to create a free man in attack. A highlight was the tackling pressure applied by the Dockers’ small forwards which prevented Carlton from setting up attacks downfield. Sam Docherty, Sam Walsh and George Hewett gained plenty of possessions but their effectiveness was limited.
Cripps won plenty of clearances for Carlton and also booted two goals for Carlton in quarter, but a team effort from the Dockers and freakish boundary line goal by Blake Acres saw the Dockers edge further ahead and the game was virtually over. Carlton staged an early fightback in the final stanza with Cripps leading the way, but the Dockers were not fazed and sealed the game in convincing manner with goals to Sam Switkowski and Matt Taberner.
Next week Carlton will have a chance to reset and regain their confidence when they meet the struggling North Melbourne Kangaroos at Marvel Stadium. The Dockers travel to GHMB Stadium in Geelong to play the Geelong Cats. Geelong are a mature and strong bodied team and will probably be able to withstand the tackling pressure of the Dockers.
Scores Fremantle Dockers: 1.4 7.6 11.9 14.13 (97) Carlton Blues: 2.2 4.5 6.7 9.8 (62) Best Fremantle Dockers: Brayshaw, Brodie, Serong, Pearce, Logue Carlton Blues: Cripps, Cerra, Walsh, Docherty, Hewett
Article last changed on Sunday, May 01, 2022 - 6:46 AM EDT