Patrick Cripps and Sam Walsh in action during Carlton's win over GWS in round six, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

THERE'S going big, then there's what Patrick Cripps and Sam Walsh did on Saturday.

In Carlton's barnstorming comeback win over the previously undefeated Greater Western Sydney, the club's pair of midfield superstars pulled out historic numbers to drag a depleted Blues outfit to a gritty victory.

Their work in tandem through the midfield inspired a run of eight consecutive Carlton goals on either side of three-quarter time, with Cripps racking up 11 disposals and Walsh amassing 12 in the third quarter alone.

It came amid a game where Cripps finished with 39 disposals, 24 contested possessions, 13 clearances, seven tackles and 11 score involvements. Walsh had 35 disposals, six clearances, 17 score involvements and three goal assists.

Walsh's performance continued a remarkable comeback from what had appeared a concerning back injury that ruled him out of Carlton's first four games, with last season's Gary Ayres Award winner not missing a beat since his return.

His 17 score involvements were the second-most by a Blues player on record, falling one short of the 18 that Brendan Fevola set when he kicked eight goals and six behinds in a win over Collingwood in 2008.

Sam Walsh is tackled by Tom Green during Carlton's win over GWS in round six, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Since Walsh's return, Champion Data notes he ranks No.1 in the League for disposals (34.5 per game) and score involvements (13), as well as No.2 for uncontested possessions (21.5) and tackles (8.5).

Walsh also ranks in the top 10 for AFL Player Ratings points (19.2), contested possessions (13), clearances (seven) and metres gained (558m) since his return, following a standout performance against Adelaide last week as well.




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Cripps' 24 contested possessions also put him among a select few Carlton players with Anthony Koutoufides in 2000, Chris Judd in 2011 and Marc Murphy in 2015 the only Blues on record to have hit the landmark 24 mark.

Except that Cripps has now done it five times, with last Saturday's performance making him just the sixth player – joining Patrick Dangerfield, Clayton Oliver, Nat Fyfe, Josh Kennedy and Lachie Neale – as the only players to have done it as often.

Cripps amassed 30.3 AFL Player Ratings points – Champion Data's most definitive statistic to measure influence on a match – in last Saturday's win over the Giants. It was the most by any player in round six, and the 11th most by a Carlton player on record.

Walsh had 19, the fourth most of any player in the game and the 18th most of any player across the weekend. But the fact both players influenced the contest, and Carlton secured a much-needed victory, should be no surprise.

According to Champion Data, the Blues haven't lost across the last three seasons when both Cripps and Walsh each have 15 or more AFL Player Ratings points. When both players have less than 10, the Blues haven't won.

But where Walsh has been the epitome of consistency – dodgy back or not – Cripps has become Carlton's barometer. More often than not, when the skipper plays well, his Blues teammates follow.

Champion Data notes Carlton is now 8-4 when Cripps has 20+ Player Ratings points since 2022. In that same period the Blues are 11-6 when he has 30+ disposals, 6-3 when he has 20+ contested possessions and 9-3 when he has 10+ clearances.

With the unbeaten Geelong, the reigning premier Collingwood and last season's finals opponents Melbourne and Sydney awaiting Carlton over the next month, the performance levels of Cripps and Walsh will again be pivotal.