CARLTON has held on for a win against a fast-finishing Geelong to register a thrilling two-point victory.
In what was the first win at Kardinia Park since 1996, the Blues stunned the Cats with clinical play, direct ball movement and repeat efforts in the first three quarters of the game.
Racing away to a 42-point lead, the Blues were forced to work for the win as the Cats piled on the pressure to nearly steal the victory in the dying stages.
It was a fast start for the Blues, with none other than Eddie Betts kicking the opening goal within the first minute of the game. Ed Curnow was given the tough task of matching up against Geelong’s Joel Selwood and was able to largely negate the impact of the captain, keeping him to just five disposals in the first term. The game was largely played in the Blues' forward line, largely due to the work around the stoppages by Marc Pittonet and Patrick Cripps. Carlton’s pressure was some of the best fans have seen in a long time, with a relentless attack and urgency forcing a usually clean Geelong defence to make uncharacteristic mistakes. Betts’ second goal of the term gave the Blues a 25 point lead heading into the first break.
The Cats made up for their slow start with two quick goals to open the term. Carlton held its nerve, however, and was able to once again bring the fight to Geelong to kick back-to-back goals through Mitch McGovern and Harry McKay. Jack Martin’s move to the midfield was important as he was able to provide an important link in play as the Blues moved forward. It was a tighter contest in the second term, with Geelong dropping an extra defender into the backline. However, the Blues were relentless in their pressure with Levi Casboult’s second goal and Cripps’ first goal giving the team a 29-point lead heading into the main break. Across the backline, Sam Docherty’s poise and Liam Jones’ commitment to the contest were essential to the team’s rebound from defence.
The Blues were clinical in their movement early in the third term, with Eddie Betts and Jack Martin flicking the switch and oozing class right around the field. For the second week in a row, Cripps proved to be a problem for the opposition even when not playing in the middle of the ground giving the Blues a game high 42-point lead. Even when the Cats came knocking, the Blues remained composed and refused to retreat into their shell. Michael Gibbons found himself on the end of Betts’ 297th career goal assist - the most of anyone since the stat's been recorded - to give the Blues 35-point lead heading into the final break.
The Cats were not going to hand the Blues an easy victory, making the most of their opportunities early and cutting the lead to under four goals. A goal to Tom Hawkins further shifted the momentum in favour of the Cats. Geelong continually bombarded a tiring Blues, looking like they were going to steal the victory from the jaws of defeat. Desperation defending by Kade Simpson and Sam Docherty helped save two certain goals in the dying moments before the siren sounded with the Blues two points ahead.
Moment of the match:
It should not be a surprise. When the Blues needed a saviour, it was a familiar face in even more familiar baggy shorts.
A game-saving tackle in the dying stages of the game helped the Blues save the victory for their first of 2020.
Three things from the game:
- The Blues forward line was firing on all cylinders with the combination of Betts, McGovern, McKay and Casboult giving a usually resolute Geelong defence major problems. The tall timber took advantage of the clean delivery from the midfield, taking eight marks in the first half and kicking five goals between them, while Betts was at his vintage best.
- Carlton has found one in Marc Pittonet. Once again putting on a strong display in the ruck, Pittonet's ruck work - in just his second Carlton game - was crucial to the Blues' midfield success early in the game. He finished the game with 36 hitouts.
- The general was the saviour. Sam Docherty's focus was put to the test in the final term, when the Cats attempted to take advantage of a free kick in the fourth quarter. Proving his defensive smarts, the co-captain dropped back to the last line, playing the role of goalkeeper to get a finger on the ball before it snuck through for a goal.
GEELONG 1.2 4.6 6.7 11.11 (77)
CARLTON 5.3 9.5 12.6 12.7 (79)
Carlton: Betts 2, Casboult 2, Cripps 2, McGovern 2, Murphy 2, Gibbons, McKay
Carlton: Betts, Cripps, Docherty, Gibbons, Pittonet, Martin, Casboult