The Blues are the AFC’s strongest team … but it can’t last

We’re only ten rounds, and Carlton’s half-wins in this remarkable 2022 season have already followed an almost identical pattern.

Complete dominance in the first half, completely destroying their opponents in the face of coal, plenty of balls for their star midfielders and an excess of supply for their length in attack.

Then, like the hands of a clock. They stop. Their opponents first score one, then two, then five or six goals, and suddenly the deficit goes down to its base.

However, whether their lead is at 50 points or 30, the Blues find a way to hold on to death. It’s rarely easy, it’s rarely without panic, but a series of signs of crunching, inspirational tackle or monster rivalry, always on hand to save the day.

So it’s against Sydney, almost to the letter. This time, the lead was 38 points at half time, courtesy of the second quarter of a great nine goals in which the Blues fans partyed like ’twas 1995′. This time the comeback took it to eight points, ahead of the Blues, led by their great head and a young star from Jack Fisher started to go into place, determined to win at 15.

We have been repeatedly told that close games are a lottery in the long run. But the Blues have already done it four times this season – five if you count their pre-season wins against Melbourne. The pattern against Western Bulldogs, Hawthorne, Port Adelaide and now the Swan is almost as frightening.

Did they find a way to crack the thriller code, or did they burn all their fortunes in the middle of the year?

One thing is for sure – if the Blues can find a way to maintain their dominance in midfield in the entire four quarters (heck, even three), then a few teams in the competition can match them. By 2022 the Swans have already shown weakness in the coal face and with the end of his illustrious career in the wing of Clearance King Josh Kennedy, the first half of Marvel Stadium was a slaughterhouse.

Only the blues mistake, and the swan’s ability to maximize from the smallest scrap of a turnover, gave visitors a one-point lead over the quarter. Charlie Carno looks set with two goals, and the Blues finish with 37 more disposals and 19 more competitive assets for the duration, anyone can see that the Swans are just holding the tide.

But the wall of the dam burst after a quarter to two; This was followed by one of the most influential quarters of the year. It was their most terrifying Carlton, version of this building blues outfit that could challenge even Melbourne and Brisbane for excellence. Irresistible – even Jack Silvagni, Patrick Cripps and Matthew Kennedy Swann pair worked their fair partnership against Tom Hickey and Peter Ladams – and their forward line was nicely set to give Carno all the space he needed, it was bloodshed. .

Carno (five from the first half), who won the match by six goals, has made Tom McCartin a very good defender like Clubby. From giving free kicks in blind panic to easily dropping intercept marks, the younger of the McCartin brothers diminished his color well … and Charlie, a younger brother himself, refused to let him go.

Practically every time he went to the ball, he looked dangerous, worried that the extra pressure on his shoulders due to the absence of Harry McCoy would affect his output in bed. Most excitingly for Michael Voss, his goals came in countless ways: good kicks from outside the 50’s, free kicks from terrified defenders, lead marks, piecemeal work near the goal square… you name it, Carno did it.

At his feet, Corey Dardin and Matthew Ovis have apparently benefited from the absence of McKay, with fewer balls being blocked by large marked spears which means more splashes for them. Three of those goals, and one more for second-gamer Jesse Motelp, may not seem complete; But add to their relentless pressure, and the impressive ability of the Swan defenders to occupy and leave space for Carno to strut his staff, and their influence surpasses mere statistics.

Carno was as good as he was, although he could not have dominated without the Blues’ complete dominance in the middle. It’s hard to remember that the Blues finished in the bottom four last year for both relegation and competition under David Tigg. With the new cattle and a new set-up under Voss, the transition has been marked: they are now sixth and third in this statistic, respectively, behind Melbourne and Brisbane only for the rival ball.

With nine clearances and 17 competitive assets, the tight-knit Hewitt has had an unveiling – and with the exception of one, the kind of player that the Swan can use in Coalface right now – while reincarnated Patrick Cripps, the hard-nosed Matt Kennedy and another Beating. It’s Cripps that gets the most praise, but Hewitt needs to think deeply for an All-Australian gig right now.

Sam Walsh also enjoyed the outdoor role more than he was accustomed to last year, tightening up a much bigger body. For the Blues, his running and carrying was electric to repeatedly turn a handball chain into something of great significance, while his own ball-winning ability remained strong. I could still give Hewitt the best-offfield honor, but you can expect 34 settlements to get three Brownlow Medal votes from Walsh.

Swans managed just five to three goals in the 50’s – they did well to get so many. A bright spot all night, Logan McDonald enjoyed the breakout game for those who knew they were coming. Nicely marked on the lead and clever when hitting the ball to the ground, he gave Jacob Waitering a three-by-half time to help cover up Lance Franklin.

Blues' Charlie Carno celebrates a goal.

Blues’ Charlie Carno celebrates a goal. (Michael Wilson / AFL photo via Getty Images)

But whether it’s fitness or the swans are finally working on how to counteract their effects, or perhaps both, the second half can’t be any different. Led by the tireless work of Callum Mills and Luke Parker, the Swans turned the tide at the source – descending to 88-59 on a competitive possession count at the break, the spectators from there shadowing the status at 73-78.

The Blues weren’t helped by a five-day break after last week’s win over GWS, but then again, this year they’ve shown that they don’t need too many excuses to fade like Marty McFly’s siblings in the film. Back to the future.

The result? Interestingly, the Swans wanted to kick at every possible opportunity – they would go to a kick-handball ratio of 224-115 – more balls means more forwards, which made the Blues’ defensive look, not the first time this year, weak.

With 34 extra marks for the second half, the Swans finally started their normal smooth ball movement, as the weary blues struggled to close out the space early on.

Tom Papley bursts into the game, diverting some attention from several blues, including Lachi Ploman. He will benefit from some new courage: The loss of Josh Kennedy in a serious hamstring injury opened the door for a smaller, faster and sharper Braden Campbell to show off his kicking skills with several intrusive passes from one wing. Errol Golden’s other youngster was also great, after being blanketed by the Blues and pressing whenever he got it in the first half.

They try to keep the ship afloat, the effort to flush out the blues swans only ends with them sinking into more and more quicksands. If they try to slow down the game, the swans will kick in a contest, win that contest appropriately, and put the defense back under siege. If they attack from the middle, there will be problems: whether it’s a great run-down tackle by Ladamus or a horror kick from Durdin’s 50-meter penalty, which was picked up by Justin McIntyre in the run, breaking the 12-minute stalemate and getting Pepli ahead for the first goal of the final. .

By the middle of the final quarter, the Swans had 21 of the last 26 in the 50s and were just eight points down. All the motion was with the spectators, while the blues hung for the seemingly deadly death. Only the waiter, with a pair of gorgeous intercept marks, and still a few misses from the deadly perfect swan, kept in front of them.

What happened then? The same thing that always does for the blues. Here’s a huge sign from Tom de Koenig, who took the four of them to a great finale; There’s a crunching tackle from Hewitt, reasserting himself to his old side after a quiet third term.

And after missing some close-ups, Jack Fisher comes to the deadly base, whose races and jeeps were significant all over the ground. He deserved to finish the swan in the end.

Winning a close game doesn’t usually last in football – think of Port Adelaide, who went 5-0 down in a three-goal game in 2020 and lost six points to Richmond in the preliminary final that year, then went 5-0 up again in 2021, this year. From 1-3. By all accounts, the Blues’ race for luck – and yes, they could easily have lost any of these four wins – did not last long.

But who thinks? Of course not the Blues fans – their team is now 8-2, virtually final confirmed, and a statement away from seeing a win against Brisbane or Melbourne as a legitimate premiership fancy.

And their blisters have been proven again in the second term, their best is good enough to scare anyone.

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