Suns ruin Carlton’s AFL finals hopes
Bottling up the pain of a shock AFL loss to the Gold Coast Suns was tough enough for Carlton coach Brett Ratten.
Especially after the stunning 12-point defeat at Metricon Stadium on Saturday night turned the Blues’ finals dream into a nightmare.
But Ratten gave up on keeping his feelings in check when inevitably asked what the boilover of the year could mean for his job security.
Speculation linking Mick Malthouse with the Blues job next year won’t go away and Ratten bristled when asked if he was worried personally about the defeat’s ramifications.
“What do you reckon, mate,” Ratten said.
When the journalist said they would be concerned, Ratten said sarcastically: “Good guess. Well done.”
Needing to win their final two games just to keep their top eight chances afloat, the Blues were expected to clinch a percentage-boosting victory on the tourist strip before concentrating on St Kilda next weekend.
But someone forgot to tell the Suns, who led by 40 in the second term before holding out a Carlton comeback to win 15.8 (98) to 11.20 (86) in front of 15,251 mostly delirious Gold Coast fans.
Carlton players slumped to the turf in despair after the final siren but the saddest look was on Ratten’s mug in the coach’s box which lingered on the big screen as the Suns partied.
The omens weren’t good for Ratten when Andrew McInnes went down with a serious knee injury after landing awkwardly in the opening 20 seconds of the match.
“It means we can’t play finals and that was a goal of ours as a football club,” Ratten said.
“It was bit like a train wreck today. From the first bounce McInnes does an ACL – it just went poorly for us in a lot of areas.”
Carlton captain Chris Judd still looked shellshocked when he took his seat next to Ratten in the post-match press conference.
“It’s not about Ratts, it’s about us letting down our entire footy club and supporters,” he said.
“The senior players need to take responsibility for that. We are the ones out on the park who can actually influence the game and we just didn’t produce tonight.”
It was just second-last Gold Coast’s third win of the year – matching the victory tally from their debut season in 2011.
But it was easily their most famous after limping into the round with a 20-strong injury list and banishing out-of-knick star utility Jared Brennan to the reserves this weekend.
Remarkably they completed a 131-point turn around since the last time they played Carlton – a 119-point loss in their AFL debut last year.
The stats sheet had Carlton ahead across the board in key areas such as disposals (365-291), contested possessions (145-122), tackles (57-44) and clearances (45-37) yet they still trailed on the scoreboard.
For the Suns, Charlie Dixon was inspirational while Gary Ablett had 23 touches and Tom Lynch kicked four goals.
For Carlton, Heath Scotland had 33 touches.© AAP 2013