In the absence of a sore Patrick Cripps, Sam Walsh hauled Carlton onto his 21-year-old shoulders and kept the Blues’ finals flame flickering ever so faintly in 2021.
The football world is quickly running out of superlatives for the young midfielder, whose final quarter heroics led his side to a victory over Collingwood in a match unlike any of the previous 259 played between the old enemies in their storied VFL/AFL rivalry.
Players celebrate Eddie Betts’ final term goal. Credit:Getty Images
In front of zero fans at the MCG on Sunday, Carlton had played largely uninspiring football for three quarters, trailing by four goals during time-on of the second quarter and 20 points midway through the third term.
But the Blues found something from that point onwards, with a long-range goal from Matthew Kennedy breathing life into his dormant side.
Eddie Betts, 35 later this year, had several telling involvements, including the snap to put his side ahead for the first time nine minutes into the final quarter.
It was Walsh, however, who had the biggest say. He had already been best afield for his tireless work through the middle when he gathered a ball deep in the pocket 25 metres out midway through the final term, his side leading by seven points at the time.
Walsh shrugged off a John Noble tackle, wrong-footed Jack Crisp, and hacked through a glorious major, celebrating in his trademark wide-armed style. Walsh had already been the hero once this month for Carlton, kicking the winner against Fremantle 15 days earlier.
Sam Walsh makes his presence felt for his side.Credit:Getty Images
Straight after this goal he was back at it again, breaking out of the middle and delivering to the chest of Harry McKay, who extended the lead beyond three goals. From there it was effectively over, and the Blues kicked away to win by 29 points. It was yet another Carlton performance which left more questions than answers; brilliant at best but very ordinary at worst.
Jack Silvagni pays tribute to his late grandfather, Sergio.Credit:Getty Images
The match did not reach any great heights during the first half, but the Pies had been the better side. They were cleaner around goal, with first-year utility Ollie Henry finding all too much and bobbing up with three majors before the long break. The Pies also repeatedly played through Brody Mihocek, who looked threatening on the lead.
Jordan De Goey was close to if not as influential as any player on the ground, continuing his strong vein of form with some bullocking brilliance. Carlton were sloppy, exemplified when Tom Williamson accidentally rushed a behind as he tried to switch play in defence.
The Pies had more of the footy, and the Blues’ pressure was lacking, until the latter part of the second term when they belatedly lifted a notch to trim the gap to within two goals at half-time.
There were several heavy knocks throughout the afternoon, with Collingwood veteran Josh Thomas’ game ending before half-time after he copped a head knock from teammate Darcy Cameron.
That one’s for you, Serge
It had been an emotional week at Carlton, following the death of club patriarch Sergio Silvagni, the father of the legendary Stephen and grandfather of modern day Blue, Jack. With his side struggling well into the second term, the third-generation Silvagni took an impressive contested mark inside 50 before going back to kick his first major of the day. Silvagni kissed his black armband and pointed skyward before being mobbed by teammates recognising the significance of the moment.
You OK, mate?
Sportsmanship was on display when Carlton great Betts copped an accidental high hit in a contest with second-year Magpie Trey Ruscoe. The West Australian was clearly concerned for the wellbeing of the champion small forward, staying with him momentarily to check on Betts’ wellbeing. Thankfully the veteran goalsneak got to his feet soon enough and was able to play out the game.
Nothing has changed
Three years ago, then Collingwood president Eddie McGuire said he would commission a new Magpies jumper to be worn for games against Carlton to avoid the clash situation caused when the Pies wear their home predominantly black jumper with white numbers, which bears only modest contrast to the Blues’ traditional navy blue jumper with white numbers. McGuire is gone from his post, but the situation remains the same, with the same combination again on display at the ’G on Sunday, another example of the AFL’s murky uniform policies.
Carlton: Walsh, Kennedy, Betts, McKay, Martin, Weitering.
Collingwood: De Goey, Noble, Elliott, Mihocek, Mayne, Henry.
Sam Walsh (Carlton) 9
Matthew Kennedy (Carlton) 7
Jordan De Goey (Collingwood) 7
Eddie Betts (Carlton) 7
Harry McKay (Carlton) 6
Keep up to date with the best AFL coverage in the country. Sign up for the Real Footy newsletter.
Most Viewed in Sport
From our partners
Source: Read Full Article