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Inaccurate Bombers Lose Second Place on Ladder to Blues

Charlie Curnow (file photo/AFANA)

A cool dry Melbourne winter's eve greeted these two old foes, for this Round 13 match under lights at the MCG. The Bombers sitting second on the ladder and the Blues, fifth, separated by just two points. It was close to a full house which showed up to watch the clash. The first quarter would be a pretty even affair, at least across the ground, but the Blues were accurate, and the Bombers were not. The Bombers broke forward early, with Perkins marking on the lead out of the square but missing the set shot for a point. The Blues moved it smartly from the kickout, but the Bombers defenders swooped and then rushed a behind.  

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Blues Hold Off Fast Finishing Demons

Petracca Goals (file photo/AFANA)

A cool drizzly night made it easy for fans to watch from home but the match saw a good crowd of 58,472 turn up to the MCG. The drizzle was falling early but not enough to make it too slippery at the start. After an early arm wrestle the Blues struck first after six minutes of play, where each team worked cautiously to feel each other out. Walsh broke the shackles, snapping around the body from 35 meters out, straight in front, for the Blues. 

While the Blues midfielders were looking for Harry and Charlie, it was the big man from the middle in Pittonet who marked and goaled at the top of the 50. Martin made it three goals in 5 minutes for the Blues when he marked at the top of the goal square. The rain grew heavier halfway through the quarter. Neither team could score again for another seven or eight minutes, but Harry McKay was able to get a better read on a bad kick to evade the defending Lever and mark and goal from 20 meters out.  

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Blues Snatch Semi Win in Final Minute

Blake Acres (file photo)

The first Semi-Final at the MCG started tonight with the stadium fuller than it has than it has been in many years, outside of a Grand Final. Max Gawn won the first tap, Carlton the first clearance and inside 50, Melbourne the first 50 clearance. All standard stuff. It was going to be tough night for players and spectators alike, but not all would be predictable.

Charlie Curnow looked to be on song early marking outside 50 for the Blues and his long kick at goal before the defenders could get back was only a degree off being six points. At the other end Charlie Spargo, coming into the side tonight, kicked the first score for the Dees. Advantage was paid to Langdon who kicked the first goal of the match after Kosi Pickett was taken out of the contest, unusually by the furthest umpire from the contest.

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Hawks Suffer Mid-year Blues

Cripps Racks Kicks Again (file photo)

On the middle day of the calendar year it was very much a drizzly winter morning in Melbourne. Still a respectable crowd of just over 66,000 turned up.  The sun had come out for the opening bounce and the Hawthorn Hawks had the first clearance, then the Carlton Blues eventually winning the back and forth tennis match before getting a high snapped kick onto Curnow's chest. He goalled the set shot to get the scoring started.   

Jack Martin kicked the Blues second after getting on the end of a chain of handballs inside the Blues 50 and being in the clear, easily snapped the goal on his left foot. A rampant McKay ran inside 50 and centered to a leading Cuningham who goalled from 30 meters out for three unanswered goals.  The Hawks appeared to be asleep for much of the quarter and the return of just three behinds accurately reflected that at quarter time as the Blues took a 19 point lead into the first break.  Hawthorn's kicking efficiency was just 50% for the quarter and when they did go forward, the likes of Weitering thwarted their efforts.

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Carlton and Curnow Crush Eagles

Charlie Curnow (file picture)

The Carlton Blues bounced back from two consecutive losses to record a thumping victory against the West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium. The match was never in doubt after half time, as Carlton held ascendancy across the field and dominated on the ball. Charlie Curnow had a day out for Carlton booting nine goals and setting up several others. Patrick Cripps was powerful in the middle for Carlton, gaining 33 possessions (22 of which were contested possessions) and laying eight tackles. The Eagles tried hard in the opening quarter and pushed Carlton in the second quarter. However the home team became spectators for the rest of the match as the relentless Carlton powered to a percentage-boosting victory (Ed: percentage in this case is calculated as the ratio of total points scored divided by points against for the season; it is the tie breaker if teams have identical won-loss records).

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2023 AFL Season Opener Ends in a Draw

Jack Silvagni's 100th game (file photo)

It has been debated in the wider footy media on various occasions in past years that these two teams might no longer deserve the season opening blockbuster. But tonight's classic match saw scores level at the final siren and in front of a vibrant and vocal crowd of 88,084, between two teams that finished 7th and 9th last year, should guarantee them both at least a few more years in this opening slot. 

The crowd was mostly in early for the first bounce of the 2023 season. The first ruck contest resulted in a free kick that saw Nankervis kick the ball long into the Richmond forward line and Dustin Martin put the first goal of the year on the board when his Carlton opponent spilled the mark. A great sign for Richmond supporters.

The reply was quick as Zac Fisher for Carlton returned the favor snapping on his left across the body from 25 meters out. Jack Silvagni got a good ride on his Richmond opponents to rise above them and mark, but it was the resulting goal that mattered most. A good sign for the Blues, too.

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Umpire Arrested For Brownlow Leaks

Brownlow Winner Patrick Cripps (file photo)

First year field umpire Michael Pell and three others were arrested in mid-November for leaking Brownlow votes. Apparently. the votes from specific matches were leaked. The AFL was alerted by one of its betting partners who detected suspicious betting and the AFL launched an investigation, leading to the arrests. The irregularities and leaks did not compromise the Brownlow count on the night according to the AFL. The bets which raised red flags ranged in size up to several thousand dollars.

However, the fallout could be severe in that it allegedly involves a match official divulging information. A police statement said in part that, " ... The criminal offenses police are investigating are engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of event or event contingency, and using corrupt conduct information for betting purposes ...". When the three others were arrested, cell phones and computers were also seized. Criminal charges are pending, but conviction carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Police are investigating how many matches potentially had votes released and the magnitude of the bets involved. If the allegations are found to be true, the umpire could also face AFL sanctions.

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Dockers Stop Navy Blues

Tom De Koning flies

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.

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Port Steals Victory from Brave Blues

Robbie Gray (File: 2017)

Port Adelaide’s Robbie Gray sensationally kicked the game winning goal after the final siren to snatch victory from a gallant Carlton in Brisbane on Sunday afternoon. With a three-point deficit and time ticking down, Gray marked on a tight angle 40 meters out from goal with the final siren blaring before taking his kick. Having missed a much simpler attempt just minutes before (as did two of his teammates in Charlie Dixon and Kane Farrell), Gray showed no sign of nerves as he split the center with a magnificent drop punt to seal the 64-61 win and strengthen the Power’s grip on top spot of the AFL ladder. 

The fact that Carlton led into the final minute of the game seemed most unlikely in the early going as Port notched the first three goals of the game with some early midfield dominance. Carlton hit back through some Eddie Betts magic who helped Michael Gibbons register the Blues first goal. That was followed by another from second year star Sam Walsh, en route to one of his most notable performances for some time. Jacob Weitering was holding down the fort in Carlton’s defense while Port appeared less organized in their usually well-structured back six, allowing the Blues to score through multiple turnovers which led to a one-point Carlton lead at quarter time.

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Brave Blues Crack Kardinia Curse

Eddie Betts Saved the Day

Much maligned Carlton has held on grimly to defeat a fast-finishing Geelong by just two points at Kardinia Park on Saturday night – the Blues first win at Geelong’s home park since 1996. This continued a series of surprising results in this already unusual season. The star of the Carlton show was undoubtedly veteran Eddie Betts, with the plucky goal sneak not only kicking the game’s opening goal but bookending it with a game-saving tackle within the last minute of the match.

Carlton stunned the highly fancied Geelong by dominating the first quarter through some great work by star midfielder Patrick Cripps and emerging ruckman Marc Pittonet, with the aforementioned Eddie Betts chipping in with two goals. At quarter time the Blues led by 25 points after what was comfortably their most impressive quarter for the season to date.

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