Highlights: Carlton v Collingwood
The Blues and Pies clash in round 15
1. Memory lane with Murphy
Helmets have faded out of the AFL like tight shorts and reasonably-priced meat pies. But Carlton captain Marc Murphy – the club's top-ranked player in the Official AFL Player Ratings
– evoked memories of past helmeted midfielders Shaun Hart and Nathan Burke on Friday night, as he donned the headgear to protect the cheekbone he fractured in round 12. Unfortunately, Murphy's brave move to declare himself fit for the crunch match backfired, as he managed 18 disposals but had minimal influence.
2. Waite loss felt at both ends
Carlton lost key forward Jarrad Waite with a suspected left knee injury midway through the first quarter after he was gang-tackled by Collingwood defenders Ben Reid and Nathan Brown. The injury not only left the Blues short a tall target up forward, it also gave them headaches in defence. As soon as Waite left the field, Buckley moved Reid forward. He was picked up first by Lachie Henderson, who until that point had been handling young back-up ruckman Jarrod Witts with ease, and then by Andrew Walker. Reid finished with four goals in a pivotal performance. Just as importantly, his presence inside 50 also took the pressure off Travis Cloke, who was able to find space and boot five of his own as the Magpies ran away with the game.
3. Where to for the Blues?
Carlton looked every bit the September contender when it raced to a 28-point lead during the first quarter. But the Blues' complete capitulation from that point onwards will have serious questions being asked at Visy Park. At 6-8 and two wins plus percentage out of the top eight, Mick Malthouse's team looks unlikely to play finals, although it does have a good run home. The veteran coach must now work out how the side can improve by 2014. Even before the match, CEO Greg Swann indicated planning was underway, forecasting significant list turnover at year's end. Several players will be nervous.
4. Sam sets sail
Former VFL star Sam Dwyer added a highlight to his productive first season at AFL level with a wonderful goal during the third quarter. The 26-year-old Magpie gathered a loose ball deep in the forward pocket, with Chris Judd on his hammer and Dennis Armfield closing from the inside. With only a split second to act, Dwyer kicked across his body, dribbling the ball one way and then the other, and straight through the middle.
5. Where, oh where is Harry O?
Much of the talk in the lead-up to the match centred on Collingwood half-back Harry O'Brien and his alleged spat with his coach Nathan Buckley. Out of the game with an ankle injury, O'Brien was not at the MCG, with Buckley revealing afterwards that the 26-year-old had flown to Port Douglas for some "R and R time". Buckley did not deny there was a rift
, saying only that he wouldn't discuss the matter publicly. He said O'Brien was due back in Melbourne on Sunday afternoon, and would be available for next week's clash with Adelaide.