Charlie Curnow was magnificent. His team’s fortunes rode on the back of the No.30. The Blues were at their best when he was supreme in the second and third terms.
But he was not the best forward on the field, pipped by the irrepressible Cameron, who overcame sore ribs to boot half a dozen to go with 25 possessions in a sterling performance which left both Voss and Chris Scott in awe.
“He went out there hobbling and copped another one,” Scott said. “We thought he was brave, outstanding, he’s a special player.”
His sixth narrowed the margin to just eight points with five minutes left, which, on previous evidence, was more than ample time for the Cats to run down the Blues.
The Blues’ victory was sparked by their midfield dominance, with Matthew Kennedy and Adam Cerra starring to ensure they were not reliant on a virtuoso game from captain Patrick Cripps.
Ed Curnow turned the clock back, restricting Cameron Guthrie to the point he was moved to half-back where he was important in the Cats’ comeback. Patrick Dangerfield was also below his best, held to 22 disposals. Like his team, the champion Cat is slow out of the blocks in 2023.
The Blues dominated the early territorial and statistical battle but were held at bay by grim defence from the Cats, who exerted enough pressure to force their opponents into crucial fumbles or, at times, costly turnovers.
After their slow play in the season-opener, the Blues were more willing to take the game on against a Cats team which was unable to match Collingwood’s pace last week.
In a sudden momentum change, the Cats owned the early part of the second term. Blicavs lost Cripps from the centre square scramble to mark and goal from close range, and when Ollie Henry burst clear on the lead the Cats appeared in control.
Zach Tuohy and Jed Bews were providing run from the defence, but their backs were about to come under siege.
Esava Ratugolea, impressive in his first try as a back last week, won some early battles against Charlie Curnow but his tank was being rapidly depleted by the reigning Coleman Medallist’s running capacity.
In stand and wrestle marking contests, Ratugolea was competitive but Curnow was dominant once he found separation from repeat leads.
The exertion told on Ratugolea, who came off the field with a left hamstring issue midway through the third term.
The game was now being played clearly on Carlton’s terms. Their forward line was irresistible. If Curnow was not kicking them, their mosquito fleet created opportunities when the ball hit the ground.
At the other end, Cameron fought a lone hand. Playing in his customary roaming forward role, the star forward outclassed Lewis Young, who was moved off him, and also proved a handful for Mitch McGovern.
Each of the three times their rival scooted 28 points clear, the Cats, against the flow, pegged them back, ensuring another nervous final quarter for the Blues faithful.
Scott remains extremely confident the Cats, missing six from their grand final 23, will get their premiership defence on track when their stars return and they overcome their “teething problems”.
With Jack Henry and Tom Stewart out, their defence was stretched further after Sam de Koning was injured in the second term, though he played out the game. Jack Bowes made a more than serviceable debut, though he will be ruing a missed set shot late.
“We always knew it would be a hard year,” Scott said. “We’d say the same thing if we won two close games. The fact we haven’t gotten over the line, the disappointment is obvious, but it’s certainly not a situation where we’re panicking. Some of the disjointed manner in which we’re playing was foreseeable with the shifts we’ve had.
“There’s going to be teething problems with a few things, and we’ve lost a couple of close games. There’s a quiet confidence about us. We do have extra confidence with our more experienced players that if we do get it right our top level will be hard to beat.”
Though the Cats were comfortably beaten for uncontested possessions again, Scott dismissed suggestions rival teams had found the blueprint to beat his men.
“There’s a risk I’ll sound overconfident here, but I think if teams think they should just keep it off us, we’ll be ok with that,” Scott said. “It’s worked for patches, but we think it’s a fair bit more to do with us”
DE KONING HURT AGAIN
It has been a trying first two games for Sam de Koning, who was again in the wars. Proppy last week after hurting his knee, de Koning was copped a knock midway through the second quarter. The young backman took a while to get up at half-back and appeared dazed as he jogged off the field but returned after the long break. De Koning was also in the firing line in the first term when he wore one in the ribs from Charlie Curnow, who had attacked the marking contest with vigour.
The way the two coaches used their subs reflected both the state of the game or where they believed their strengths lay. Needing to inject some speed into their game, the Cats subbed out ruckman Rhys Stanley for first-gamer Cooper Whyte. The Blues retained late inclusion Marc Pittonet so they could maintain the rage at the contest, where they had been so good, instead sacrificing Jack Silvagni, who had been steady with 13 possessions, for running machine Lochie O’Brien.
Denial of responsibility! insideheadline is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.