Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Patersons Stadium, Perth
Carlton effectively ended Fremantle’s Finals’ hopes in a comprehensive demolition at Patersons Stadium in Round 21. Fremantle had won the last 12 of 14 encounters with Carlton and got off to a great start winning the ball from the first bounce down. Aaron Sandilands was back after injury and tapped the ball down for a Matthew Pavlich clearance. Pavlich chased up his own kick to goal within the first 30 seconds of the game. Eddie Betts squared up quickly with a snap on goal after roving the pack and Carlton went on to kick the next four in a row. Betts got his second goal after marking a spearing pass 30 yards out, while Dennis Armfield and Matthew Kreuzer turned the bolts tighter with goals of their own. Carlton looked speedier all over the ground and the Dockers could not get the ball moving out of their back line. Their defensive pressure was simply not in the same league as Carlton’s and poor foot passing skills let them down time and time again. Zac Clarke gave the Dockers their second goal after a strong mark. The Dockers were flooding back to help the defense and, as a result, had no one to kick to when they got the ball. Alex Silvagni was moved forward and kicked the Dockers' third goal but that was all they could manage for the quarter. When Carlton kicked the next two majors, one after the siren, the Dockers were behind by 17 points.
In the second quarter, Fremantle had their first goal taken off them when one umpire signaled a mark to Luke McPharlin and the other signaled a free kick for a push in the back to the opposition. McPharlin played on to kick a goal but it was disallowed when the umpires conferred. Both teams missed relatively easy shots on goal so this quarter was a low scoring affair. The game could have been decided much sooner if Mitch Robinson and Kade Simpson had made the most of their opportunities. It was a determined Betts who showed the visitors the way to the goals. His courage when marking and his swiftness on the ground made the difference for Carlton in the forward line. One spark for Fremantle was Hayden Ballantyne. Although he had not had much impact on the game so far it was not through lack of effort. He roved the ball from a Sandilands’ tap down and kicked an important goal for the Dockers. With nearly three times more scoring shots for the half, Carlton had extended their lead to 26 points at the half time break.
When the third quarter got started it was clear that Carlton players were more desperate and hungry for the ball than the Dockers. They were prepared to run hard and make space for their team mates. Chris Judd continued to rack up possessions and his first goal lit the Blues up. They kicked the next two including a miracle goal from Jeffrey Garlett in his 50th game. The ease with which Carlton was finding free players running forward only emphasized the lack of pressure by the Dockers. A goal to Michael Johnson against the flow of play seemed to wake up the home team temporarily. Fremantle kicked the next two goals to give them three in a row and an opportunity to mount a challenge. Andrew Walker put the Dockers back in their box when he took the mark of the round and kicked a goal after the siren. The Blues were 33 points up when the quarter ended.
Carlton put Fremantle to the sword at the start of the final quarter. They kicked four in a row to snuff out any hope that the Dockers might steal the win. Bret Thornton left the field with a huge egg on his eye after a hard clash that left the Blues one player down. His courage in the contest allowed Betts to kick his fifth goal after the ball spilled free. Betts got his sixth soon after to make him the leading goal kicker for the match. Fremantle’s speedster Ballantyne was tireless in his attempts to get his side back in the game. He marked and scored to stem the flow of goals but there was no real hope left for the Dockers. Although they scored three of the next four goals, the game was well and truly done and dusted. The Blues ran out comfortable 30 point winners with the final score line flattering the Dockers. Carlton had ten more scoring shots than the Dockers and could have decided the game earlier had they kicked straight.
Fremantle needs some good fortune to make the Final Eight and is relying on the teams above them to lose every game which seems unlikely. Carlton is only two points ahead of the West Coast Eagles on the Ladder. With a bye in Round 23 and the Eagles with what looks to be an easier run to the Finals, Carlton may be challenged to keep a place in the Top Four.
Scoreboard Fremantle: 3.0 4.2 7.7 12.13 (85) Carlton: 5.5 7.10 11.16 16.19 (115) Best Players Fremantle: Silvagni, Clarke, Faulks, Ballantyne, Barlow Carlton: Judd, Betts, Murphy, Gibbs, Garlett
Article last changed on Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - 11:00 AM EDT