Carlton has survived a late scare from the Hawks to record an epic one-point win at the MCG on Sunday afternoon as Michael Voss’ team improved to 3-0.
The Blues came firing out of the blocks to lead by 30 points at half-time as it was all way way traffic.
But Hawthorn came charging back in the second half — even taking the lead late in the frantic final term — before ultimately coming up short, 11.8 (74) to 11.7 (73).
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The Blues were well led by Patrick Cripps (31 disposals, one goal) and Sam Docherty (33 disposals), the latter who really stood up in the frantic late stages of the game, while Charlie Curnow and Jack Silvagni booted three goals apiece.
Meanwhile, Changkuoth Jiath (27 disposals, eight marks) fuelled Hawthorn’s comeback with his signature run and carry, while his teammates never gave up to set up the thrilling finish.
With it Michael Voss remains the last new coach undefeated on the season.
Jack Martin (Carlton) and Daniel Howe (Hawthorn) were named the medical subs.
Dylan Moore was first to hit the scoreboard, with North Melbourne great David King highlighting the Hawks’ flexibility in attack.
“They make it very difficult to get like-type matchups, they’ve got a plethora of small forward options,” King told Fox Footy.
But Carlton’s two twin towers Harry McKay and Charlie Curnow responded at the other end of the ground with back-to-back goals.
“That is a really powerful mark in front of goal and the kick was superb,” Brownlow medallist Gerard Healy said.
King added: “They look dominant forward of centre the Blues.”
Matthew Kennedy, who Healy dubbed “rejuvenated,” continued his dominant start to the season, racking up an equal game-high eight disposals in the first quarter
“Alarm bells now, the Carlton forward line is on fire,” King said as the Blues stacked om their fifth goal of the quarter through Matt Owies.
Carlton kicked the next two goals in what had fast become a one-sided affair, marking the Blues’ biggest first-quarter score since 2015 in a dominant start for Michael Voss’ team.
The Blues led by 34 points at quarter time, 7.1 (43) to 1.3 (9).
“They’re getting embarrassed at clearance, it’s as simple as that. Carlton have won 11 clearances and have scored five goals from them. It’s brutal. If they don’t fix this clearance problem they’ll get blown away today. Five goals in one quarter of football (is) unacceptable,” King said.
Adding to the Hawks’ woes was Jack Scrimshaw getting subbed out of the game at quarter time for Howe with fears of a fractured scapula.
Hawthorn booted the first goal of the second term through Moore, who had their only two majors on the day. But the Blues responded with the next two goals including one to Curnow to continue their dominate form.
“Curnow is just on fire,” Healy said.
Breust breathed life into the Hawks late in the second quarter with back-to-back goals to suddenly bring it back to a 28-point deficit.
“He might be the best finisher in the game. This guy has taken control,” King said.
But Cripps continued to dominate, with nine of his 15 disposals in the forward half in a damaging performance as King called for Sam Mitchell to put more attention into him.
“Cripps is the one who would be consuming the Hawthorn coaching box at the moment. At what point do you need to put a tag on him?” King posed.
The Blues took a 30-point lead into the main, break, 9.5 (59) t0 4.5 (29).
Curnow took a big contested grab early in the third quarter to put through his third goal, moch to the praise of King.
“Contested marking game of Carlton today has been simply outstanding,” King said.
“It’s the new Carlton, you have to appreciate how they’re playing to their strengths. Get the ball in quick, they’ve got three quality talls down there and a plethora of smalls charging on too put pressure on or get the crumb. Not mucking around with the ball just getting it in deep.”
The former of resurrected star Curnow, who’s barely played over the last two years due to injury, would’ve be particularly pleasing for Voss and Blues fans alike.
The Hawks weren’t going away though, with Connor Macdonald finishing a strong blow to reduce their deficit to four goals.
The Hawks continued to up the ante, with Changkouth Jiath using his run and carry to set up a Wingard goal as the Hawks crept closer.
“They need to slow the game down Carlton, there’s no need for them to play fast football. They don‘t need to engage in a shootout, they’ve built their lead, take some speed out of the game,” King said.
The Blues took a 17-point lead into the last change, 10.6 (66) to 7.7 (49).
The Hawks kept coming in the fourth quarter, with Tom Mitchell booting a goal from a scrappy play to get his team within 11 points.
Healy noted the desperate Hawthorn ‘just want it more’ as the Blues took their foot off the gas.
The Hawks kicked the next two goals through a highlight Harry Morrison banana before Jack Gunston remarkably put them in front to completely turn the game on its head — capping off a run of six-straight majors for Sam Mitchell’s side.
“Back to the ‘80s with the Hawks and Blues putting on a show,” Fox Footy commentator Anthony Hudson said.
Just when the Blues desperately needed a hero, Jack Silvagni stepped up with banana goal from the pocket late in the quarter as Carlton fans erupted at the MCG.
A handy point saw the Blues’ lead extend out to seven, while Gunston put through his second goal of the match at the other end to make it a point game.
It set up for a frantic last few minutes as the Hawks continued to charge, but Jacob Weitering took a big intercept marl inside the last minute to seal the the Blues’ win.
THE 3-2-1 (What we learned)
3. WHY THE BLUES SHOULD BE DARING TO DREAM
We don’t want to go the early crow, but a 3-0 start to the season puts the Blues in a commanding position in 2022.
So much so that 90 per cent of teams to start their campaigns 3-0 in the last five years have made the finals.
Further to this, 70 per cent of them have made a preliminary final, while 40 per cent have made a grand final.
Plus in the top eight era, an average of one team climbs from outside the top eight the year before and into the top four, which has happened in each of the last seven seasons.
All current signs are pointing to that side being Carlton in 2022.
It comes with several contenders stumbling out of the gates, leaving Gerard Healy to question who is the second best team in the competition behind Melbourne.
“Carlton is certainly in the conversation (of being the second best team in the AFL),” King said on Fox Footy post-match.
“Premierships come from funny places and this s a real opportunity for Carlton in 2022.”
2. BUT THE HAWKS LOST NO ADMIRERS
You can’t help but applaud that effort from the Hawks despite Sam Mitchell suffering his first loss as a coach.
Yes, they went down big in the first half, but found a way to get back into the contest and somehow surge ahead. Heck, it even looked like they were more likely of securing the win late in the game.
It wasn’t necessarily the usual suspects that dominated too, with the likes of Changkuoth Jiath, Dylan Moore, James Sicily and Jai Newcome really taking ownership, while youngsters Connor Macdonald and Josh Ward continue to impress.
“One of the really positive factors was Josh Ward — one of the guys who stood up to start to rebound and get back in the game. CJ (Jiath) had a really stinker in the first quarter and a half but he found a method and ended up one of the best players on the ground,” Healy said post-match.
Indeed, one clear takeaway from this game for Hawthorn, if nothing else, is that its in good hands under Sam Mitchell.
King also praised the new brand Mitchell has installed and how much it suits Jiath’s style of play.
“They’re playing probably the most aggressive football in the competition,” he said post-match.
“They’re prepared to throw the ball in the middle of the ground and take all the risk, Jiath is probably the number one instigator.”
1. WHERE CRIPPS HAS REALLY ELEVATED HIS GAME
Patrick Cripps is simply on another level to anyone in the AFL right now.
The Blues skipper continued his dominant start to the season with yet another dazzling performance against the Hawks, racking up 31 disposals, 12 contested, six marks, 11 tackles and booting one goal.
In the first half, nine of Cripps’ 15 disposals were in the forward half in a damaging showing. It helped Carlton kick six goals from stoppages – the most for Blues since 2013 in a half.
It left King questioning why Sam Mitchell didn’t put more work into the star midfielder at the main break.
“He’s had the greatest influence on this game, no doubt about that. They have to put a tag to him,” King noted at half-time.
“You just can’t get beaten by one man for the whole course of this afternoon’s battle. He’s been the reason they’ve scored so heavily at stoppage.”
Cripps’ impact forward of centre is what’s been most impressive about his form this season, booting six goals from three games.
“He looks fit, he looks as fit as he can be,” Carlton legend Eddie Betts told Fox Footy.
“If you watch the game closely he’s playing at every stoppage then sliding forward, and the likes of Zac Fisher and Walsh who come up and play his goal in the midfield.”
The match got underway at 1.10pm from the MCG.
Watch it live on Fox Footy (channel 504).
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