Blues topple old foe

IT WON’T be reviewed as one of the greats, but Carlton supporters will remember Saturday’s 13-point win over Essendon as the Blues’ first for 2018 and the one that sent the Bombers’ season spiralling out of control.

The Blues’ 14.7 (91) to 10.18 (78) victory at the MCG was inspired by a game-breaking third quarter from Charlie Curnow, with the powerful forward’s two goals the spark the dour arm-wrestle of a contest desperately needed.

It also came after John Worsfold’s men coughed up yet another third quarter after leading by a point at half-time.

The Bombers have failed to win a third term this season, with their points differential for the quarter drifting to 147 points after the Blues built a lead of 10 points for the final stanza.

The Bombers responded to reclaim the lead after back-to-back goals to Shaun McKernan and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, but the Blues lifted again with a rapid-fire, spirit-breaking three-goal punch.

Ed Curnow’s second major at the 18-minute mark was the game’s last, with the Bombers shanking three opportunities after that to lose their sixth game in seven starts.

But, as much as this was about the Bombers falling three games adrift of the top eight after all their pre-season promise, it was also about the Blues finally managing to grind out a win.

Charlie Curnow was terrific with his contested marking in greasy conditions a highlight, while his brother Ed and Patrick Cripps were midfield bulls that led the Blues to their 47 to 38 clearance win.

The only downside to Ed Curnow’s game was a third-quarter interaction with umpire Nathan Williamson.

The midfielder placed his hand on Williamson’s chest after giving away a free kick; an action that will be closely looked at following Tom Hawkins’ one-game suspension for umpire contact last week.

That aside, there was plenty for Blues’ supporters to smile about with Darcy Lang – in his first game in the navy Blue – kicking the first goal of the game one minute in.

Lang finished with two, as did Harry McKay, Ed Curnow and Jed Lamb, while their defence held up under the hard work of Liam Jones, Sam Rowe and Dale Thomas.

Lamb set the standard for his side early when he got inside the head of Brendon Goddard with persistent niggling; a tactic that forced the move of the frustrated former Saint from half-back to the wing for the second term.

Until the middle of the fourth quarter, the biggest margin of the game was 11 points, such was the low-scoring, tight nature of the often-untidy contest.

But Charlie Curnow’s third quarter provided the game’s highlight, as the Bombers were left to rue more forward line problems with the same suspects failing to make an impact.

Jake Stringer had 14 touches and laid one tackle, McDonald-Tipungwuti tackled seven times but his only goal was a final-term out the back cheapie, and James Stewart went goalless.

The Bombers resisted temptation to reinstall Cale Hooker in attack in the absence of Joe Daniher, with inclusion Shaun McKernan taking eight marks and kicking two as their most prolific forward alongside Orazio Fantasia (2.2).

David Zaharakis and Dyson Heppell worked hard through the midfield while Devon Smith laid a game-high 15 tackles, but it wasn’t enough as the Blues showed more composure when it mattered most.

CARLTON        4.1       6.2       10.6     14.7 (91)
ESSENDON     3.2       5.9       7.14     10.18 (78) 

 C.Curnow 3, E.Curnow 2, Lang 2, McKay 2, Lamb 2, Fisher, Petrevski-Seton, Kerridge
Essendon: McKernan 2, Fantasia 2, McKenna, Ambrose, Zaharakis, Heppell, Merrett, McDonald-Tipungwuti

Carlton: Cripps, Kreuzer, E.Curnow, C.Curnow, Simpson, Lamb, Jones, Thomas
Essendon: Zaharakis, Heppell, Smith, Hooker, Fantasia 

Carlton: Wright (ankle)
Essendon: Nil

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Stevic, Williamson, Glouftsis

Official crowd: 44,669 at the MCG

Source: Carlton Blues website

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