Carlton v Melbourne: AFL live scores, blog
Andrew Walker and Eddie Betts celebrate (Slattery Images)
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Carlton take on Melbourne at the MCG this afternoon, with the Blues looking to respond after two demoralising losses on the trot. Join us from 3.15pm AEST for live scores and commentary.
After three rounds the Blues were riding high as premiership favourites, undefeated with a percentage of 194.7 after momentum building wins against Richmond and Brisbane before performing a demolition job Collingwood on the grand stage of Friday night football.
It was hard not to be impressed by the stoppage work of Chris Judd and Andrew Carrazzo, the run and link of Marc Murphy and Bryce Gibbs, and the multi-faceted forward set-up delivering goals at will.
Kruezer and Hampson were a dangerous ruck/forward duo, and the defence was a team within a team, banding together to repel opposition entries.
Then came a clash with the Bombers who, identifying what they believed to be a frailty against physical opposition, intimidated the Blues with force and attack on the ball and man.
Sam Lonergan set the scene by shattering Carrazzo’s shoulder in the opening minutes, which left the renowned tagger ‘disappointed’.
Probably the same feeling that his team’s supporters were feeling at the lack of hardness shown by Carlton on the day.
What Essendon believed turned out to be true, and soon enough St Kilda and Adelaide followed suit, not just beating Carlton, but savaging them, breaking more bones in the process.
Murphy’s shoulder the latest to be mangled after coming off second best to a Patrick Dangerfield bump.
From round four onwards, Carlton’s win-loss record stands at 2-3 with a percentage of 89. Take out a walk in the park against GWS, and they are 1-3 and 72.
Hardly the record of a side with finals aspirations, much less a vaunted premiership contender.
Of course, no respect can be won today against a Melbourne outfit that is a basket-case at best, and should be sent for a spell in the VFL at worst.
It’s difficult to comprehend just how it has gotten so badly so quickly for the hapless Dees, and most have had their crack at it.
After a win over Collingwood in the NAB Cup, supporters ‘played down’ the victory, even though privately their hearts leapt.
“Finally,” they whispered to each other.
“A hard edge to go with our talent-laden list, put together with high draft picks over the course of years at the bottom of the ladder. This will be the year we break our finals drought, with top four to follow in 2013.”
Unfortunately for these supporters, this year they have learned one of life’s hardest lessons – the greater the hope, the heavier the despair.
But nine rounds in, despair is but a dot in the rear-view mirror, replaced by a numbness borne of grieving with a heavy heart.
The Melbourne players, with some notable exceptions, particularly Nathan Jones and Mitch Clark, have been accused of lacking desire, and seen to be poorly skilled.
A marriage of these two components is not going to end happily on the field, and the proof has been there for all to see.
In a nutshell, they can’t get their hands on the ball, and can’t keep it when they do.
At the selection table, the hard-talking Mark Neeld has dropped Aaron Davey a month too late, Colin Sylvia has been given his umpteenth wake-up call, while Cale Morton is a soft, outside runner with poor skill and shouldn’t pull on an AFL jumper for the rest of the year.
Can the Dee’s cause an upset? The simple answer is ‘no’, even though there are probably 15 or 16 teams who would fancy their chances against the Blues this week, such is the extent to which Carlton’s season has derailed.
Such is the nature of ‘car-crash’ football, most neutrals I talk to are hoping for either a one goal Melbourne victory, or the Blues to triumph by 120 points.
Unfortunately for those that love slowing down to see the wreckage, I don’t see either happening.
Carlton by 49 points.
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Cameron Rose is a born and bred Melbournian, raised on a regime of AFL, cricket and horse racing. He likes people who agree with him but loves those that don't, for in his mind there is nothing better than a roaring debate. He tweets from @camtherose.