YOU don’t need to remind Carlton supporters of the last time their team defeated the arch rival by a point.
For the first time in 21 years, the Blues accounted for the Bombers by the smallest possible margin to prevail in another thriller.
So, how did it all happen?
The forwards are clicking
In his post-match press conference, David Teague mentioned the Club’s focus on team offence and defence — that was clearly on display on Saturday night.
While the efficiency in front of goal would have had Carlton supporters cursing, the key positive for the Blues was their ability to generate repeat forward entries.
Carlton had eight scoring shots from forward half intercepts on the weekend, the fourth-most of any time in the competition. The next step, clearly, is converting those shots in front of goal: it yielded a return of 3.5 (23).
Once again, the Blues were giving themselves opportunities in front of goal: they rank second in the competition for marks inside 50 after four rounds.
What about the defence?
Could Carlton have two of the defensive six spots in the All-Australian side after four rounds? It’s hard to disagree, based on the numbers.
Sam Docherty enjoyed his best game since his return to action, and that’s not to say his first three were poor by any means.
Can't argue with this!— Carlton FC (@CarltonFC) June 29, 2020
Three Blues couldn't be split when it came to the Saturday night's coaches' votes.#OwnTheFuture
Docherty recorded 32 disposals at 91 per cent efficiency, while he is streets ahead of the next best in the competition for metres gained. Carlton’s defensive general hasn’t missed a beat.
Then, there’s the case of Jacob Weitering. He may not have had his most eye-catching night disposal-wise, but he didn’t need to: once again, Weitering didn’t concede a goal while recording six one percents and five intercepts.
The unsung heroes
So often, the adage has been that without Patrick Cripps firing on all fronts, Carlton can’t win.
While Cripps recorded 20 disposals on Saturday night, he wasn’t at his dominant best — but he didn’t need to be.
With Cripps well-held, David Cuningham clearly stood up, while Will Setterfield had an industrious night with six clearances — second only to Marc Pittonet (eight).
For just the third time in three years, Carlton recorded a win with Patrick Cripps in the side but not recording coaches’ votes: a sign of the spreading of the load.
The Cowboy locks down… and then there’s Ed
Going into Saturday night, two of Essendon’s key threats came in the form of Dylan Shiel and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti.
Shiel had averaged just over 28 disposals from his two games this season, while McDonald-Tipungwuti’s form against Carlton was clear: he had kicked 10 goals in his three wins against the Blues, but just two goals in three losses.
Well, that escalated quickly.— Carlton FC (@CarltonFC) June 29, 2020
In three days, we’ve got a game to play. #OwnTheFuture
Once again tasked with going head-to-head with an opposition midfielder, Ed Curnow restricted Shiel to 19 disposals (six uncontested) and one clearance while collecting 20 disposals and six tackles himself.
Then, there was Sam Petrevski-Seton’s role on McDonald-Tipungwuti.
So often regarded for his delivery from half back, the Halls Creek Cowboy - who spent the majority of the game on the dangerous McDonald-Tipungwuti - kept him to just four disposals, with only one coming in the first three quarters.
A close-run thing
There were more than a few requests for heart rate monitors as part of Carlton’s 2021 membership package: and fair enough, too.
V/@AFL teams to have 3 consecutive games decided by under 3 points— Swamp (@sirswampthing) June 27, 2020
CARL - 1911 R01-03 (0, 0, -2)
CARL - 1948 R03-05 (2, -2, -2)
CARL - 1952 R14-16 (0, -1, -1)
WBD - 1950 R18-1951 R0 (-2, 1, 1)
STK - 1956 R13-15 (1, 0, -2)
CARL - 2020 R02-04 (-1, 2, 1)
As resident stats guru SirSwampThing said on Twitter on Saturday night, the Blues were the first team in 64 years to have three consecutive games decided by less than three points.
It was also the first time in 20 attempts that Carlton has won under the lights at the MCG, dating back to Round 18, 2012 against Richmond.