Charlie Curnow in action for Carlton against Collingwood.
Charlie Curnow in action for Carlton against Collingwood.

Blues brave but blunder costs dearly

THE old push and shove after the half-time siren is frowned upon by most as a waste of time and energy.

But when you're Carlton these signs of spirit can take on more meaning.

Remember, we've been told by Brendon Bolton to look for green shoots in the worst team in the competition.

Standing up and flying the flag for mates during an extended half-time scuffle at least gets a tick.

As does standing up when the odds are stacked against you which the Blues did extremely well in the opening 10 minutes of the third term of Sunday's clash against Collingwood.

When the ball was bounced to start the second half Carlton had just two players on the bench - teenager Lochie O'Brien and Cam O'Shea.

Patrick Cripps and Taylor Adams get acquainted. Picture: Michael Klein
Patrick Cripps and Taylor Adams get acquainted. Picture: Michael Klein

O'Shea wasn't even in the Blues extended squad of 26 on Thursday night and was only at the MCG on Sunday as a back-up.

He was called into action just minutes before the opening bounce after Levi Casboult broke a finger in the warm-up.

The reason for the two empty seats on the bench was Lachie Plowman had done his knee early in the second quarter and then ruckman Matthew Kreuzer hadn't reappeared after halftime because of an ankle problem.

So the scenario wasn't pretty - two men down, trailing by nine points against a red-hot Collingwood who were eyeing off a top four spot.

At the eight-minute mark the Blues were in front.

Stand-in skipper Patrick Cripps had kicked his second goal of the day two minutes earlier after some sloppy defending from the Pies gave him space 35m out.

Charlie Curnow takes a hanger.
Charlie Curnow takes a hanger.

And then Charlie Curnow, who is the greenest of all the shoots, took an impressive one-on-one mark in the goalsquare.

The Blues ball movement had been slick, they were running and gunning like a good side with bucketloads of spirit and dare.

Adam Treloar, who had been strangely absent for most of the day, got the steadier for the Pies a couple of minutes later after a Brodie Grundy hanger had set it up.

Then came the reminder.

The reminder that Carlton are sitting 18th on the ladder with just one win.

Liam Jones had the ball in the back pocket and for reasons that only he is aware of he decided to try and centre the ball.

This was a peculiar given there were three Collingwood players in the vicinity with the ball landing in the arms of Jaidyn Stephenson.

It was a mind-blowingly stupid decision that good teams just don't make.

Lachie Plowman is stretchered from the ground. Picture: Michael Klein
Lachie Plowman is stretchered from the ground. Picture: Michael Klein

One thing we've learnt about Stephenson is he doesn't miss. He nailed the shot and you could hear the air start to leak out of the Blues tyres.

You don't have to be a genius to guess what happened next.

The Pies went through their gears like a top four team does and comfortably kept at bay a pesky opponent who'd run out of soldiers and ideas.

Grundy was having a picnic without Kreutzer while the unconventional forward line structure kept producing with Stephenson and Will Hoskin-Elliott kicking three goals each.

There was nothing stunning about the midfield stats of the Pies - Steele Sidebottom led them with 31 possessions and nine clearances.

In the end it was a performance that smelt of a team who ensured they did enough to get the win but nothing more.

Jaidyn Stephenson kicked three goals.
Jaidyn Stephenson kicked three goals.

Once again it was the excitement of Curnow and Cripps, plus the amazing resilience of 299-gamer Kade Simpson, which was the story for the Blues.

The younger Curnow certainly produced all the highlights of the game with several hangers and three goals from 19 touches which included six inside 50s and five contested marks.

While they're probably sick of hearing this, if Carlton fans can get themselves through this horror period then Curnow and Cripps will give them plenty to cheer about at some stage.

Cripps did what he does collecting 29 disposals which included 20 contested possessions, six clearances and three goals while Simpson led the Blues with 31 touches.

The gallant 20-point loss means Bolton will once again get to talk about his green shoots but in reality the one thing which will be going through his mind on repeat when he puts his head on the pillow: "Why Liam? Why Liam? Why Liam?"



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