It took until the third quarter for the Fremantle Dockers to break the shackles after a pedestrian start to take down bottom of the ladder dwellers the Carlton Blues. Carlton were struck a blow when their premier ruckman Matthew Kreuzer was omitted, possibly for the rest of the season, with an elevated heart rate when training the day before the match in Perth. After having lost five of the last six matches in the West, Carlton were going to need all the help they could get.
Carlton got off to a good start with Ed Curnow kicking their first goal from the result of a free kick. Big Harry McKay followed up soon after with a strong mark and accurate kick to put the Blues’ tails up. Carlton was winning the contested possessions at nearly double that of Fremantle. This meant that they were harder at the ball and prepared to get into the fight. The Dockers were making poor decisions at times and were not disposing of the ball to their teammates’ advantage. Carlton were putting the ball into their 50 meter arc more often than Fremantle and could have really put their stamp on the game if they had converted more truly. They had outscored the Dockers by nine shots to five as the quarter ended, with a 14-point lead at the break.
With the first goal of the second quarter, Carlton looked to be on a roll. They were still well ahead on contested possessions, but Fremantle were turning around the clearances. This was mainly due to Lachie Neale, who was becoming a ball magnet. It was still a fairly insipid game with few highlights. What was evident was the disparity between the teams in the top half and those in the bottom half of the ladder. At one point in the game Carlton’s kicking efficiency percentage had dropped into the teens – hardly the stuff legends are made of. Both teams traded goals, with Cam McCarthy lifting his ratings to score a brace in the quarter. Matthew Wright was doing his best for Carlton with a pair of his own. By the end of the first half Carlton held onto their two-goal lead, but didn’t look as if they were threatening to blow the game open.
After the main break, things got a little more exciting for the hometown fans. Something had flipped the collective switch in the Dockers’ mindset and they started to get more intensity in the contests. Neale kicked it up another gear and in a best on ground performance gave the Dockers some spark that quickly ignited the team. They kicked seven unanswered goals in the third quarter to put a lock on the game. The Blues were flat-footed, as exemplified by Cameron Polson being run down from behind by Michael Walters, immediately after being asked to play on by the umpire. Walters already had a head of steam up when the umpire made the call and in a flash tacked, won a free kick and scored a goal before the hapless Polson had managed to stand up.
Early goals to McKay and Darcy Lang in the final term raised a few hopes for the visitors as they cut the margin back. Fremantle steadied then and pulled the lead back out to a game winning five goals when the final siren blew. Coach Bolton said a few weeks ago that he could see the “green shoots” starting to sprout in his young side. Patrick Cripps tried his hardest and young players like the Curnow brothers are maturing quickly. Unfortunately for this season the shoots are not springing up fast enough. Fremantle suffered a blow when Walters appeared to strain a hamstring. Their position – languishing in the bottom quarter of the table, will mean that Walters will probably sit out for the remaining two games.
Fremantle: 1.4 5.7 12.10 15.11 (101) Carlton: 3.6 7.8 7.10 10.12 (72) Fremantle: Neale, Mundy, A. Pearce, McCarthy, Langdon Carlton: Cripps, Kerridge, E. Curnow, Wright, McKay
Article last changed on Monday, August 13, 2018 - 12:16 PM EDT