Collingwood gets the better of Carlton

COLLINGWOOD 6.3 8.8 10.12 13.13 (91) CARLTON 2.2 6.3 7.7 11.10 (76)
Goals: Collingwood: C Young 2 L Ball 2 S Pendlebury 2 S Sidebottom 2 D Beams J Witts L Keefe T Cloke T Goldsack. Carlton: A Everitt 2 L Henderson 2 B Gibbs B McLean C Judd D Thomas L Casboult M Murphy T Menzel.
Best: Collingwood: Pendlebury, Beams, Sidebottom, Swan, Young, Lumumba, Frost, Macaffer. Carlton: Judd, Yarran, Gibbs, Robinson, Henderson, Rowe.
Injuries: Collingwood: J Elliott (hamstring), T Langdon (concussion) replaced in selected side by B Kennedy. Carlton: S White (knee) replaced in selected side by D Armfield.
Reports: Collingwood: D Beams (Collingwood) for striking Ed Curnow (Carlton) during the third quarter. Carlton: M Robinson (Carlton) for striking T Adams (Collingwood) during the first quarter.
Umpires: Ben Ryan, Scott Jeffery, Mathew Nicholls.
Official Crowd: 40,936 at MCG.

You might need to read this because plainly you were not at the game.

This was a Carlton-Collingwood game, but not as you know it. Not in the sense of those interested to turn up for entertaining rivals. Just 40,936 people came out on a damp, cold Sunday night to the MCG.

Not since 1991 at Waverley had Collingwood-Carlton played before a crowd of this size away from suburban grounds. Not since a semi-final in 1921 had Collingwood and Carlton played at the MCG before such a small crowd, and not since the Magpies left Victoria Park have they played Carlton in front of a crowd as tiny for a home game.

On the field the game was distractingly good after a one-sided beginning. It started sharply enough with Chris Judd making good a free kick in front of goal, but the Blues undid their own work afterwards. Their kicking out of defence was loose, poorly chosen and consequently punished.

Collingwood had four unanswered goals, one of them from a relayed free kick for a Mitch Robinson left hook that clipped Taylor Adams’ jaw and saw not only a goal result but a report, too.

The Magpies almost doubled Carlton’s possessions in the first term, their comprehensive ownership of the ball illustrated by the 19-5 inside-50 count but not the scoreboard. A 25-point first quarter margin was significant but unreflective.

The second term began with Travis Cloke stretching the lead to five goals. With Collingwood playing one loose behind the ball, Carlton coach Mick Malthouse then went man on man. So Nathan Buckley put another behind the ball. And Malthouse manned him up. Consequently the Blues had eight forwards to match Collingwood’s eight defenders. It worked: the Blues kicked three unanswered goals and got back in the contest.

There was a sense the Magpies still had the run of the play and the expectation they would score, but when they kicked five straight behinds as Carlton kicked three goals the idea took hold at Carlton that it was back in the contest.

A goal in a minute to start the third quarter with, importantly, Judd being influential had the Blues back to 11 points, but rounding out the quarter with three behinds and two more set shots not making the distance or skewing off line left them afflicted like Collingwood.

After quarter time the Magpies kicked 2.8 until they broke the run through Luke Ball and later Steele Sidebottom stepping through traffic to snap a goal and restore the lead to 23 points at the last break.

Collingwood, however, was playing without a well-functioning forward line after Jamie Elliott had to be subbed out. Jesse White was having no influence, the small forwards offered nothing and Cloke was being double teamed and leading deep. Dayne Beams and Dane Swan were used as marking forward.

Beams kicked the Magpies steadier in the last after Lachie Henderson had booted one from a free and 50 metres, and then hit the post with another set shot (the fourth Carlton miss from a set shot).

When Clinton Young snapped another a minute later and the lead was 26 points,  Carlton’s chances of working into the game again looked forlorn. But  Marc Murphy, on the end of a Robinson handball, goaled and Henderson snuck out the back to goal. It was back to 15 points.

When Troy Menzel marked a short high kick directly in front it was nine points at the 22-minute mark and the game began having a Collingwood-Carlton tension about it. The tension broke when Ed Curnow cut a ball into the corridor from half-back to Kade Simpson but it hung in the air for Ben Kennedy to intercept with a punch and  Sidebottom dribbled  a goal.

This story Collingwood gets the better of Carlton first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.