IT WAS the best of Carlton, it was the worst of Carlton, and for the first time since 2012, the Blues are unbeaten through the opening three rounds.
After bursting out to a 41-point lead nine minutes into the second term, the Blues withstood a Hawthorn tidal wave, which yielded nine goals to two from that point, to run out winners 11.8 (74) to 11.7 (73) in a Sunday afternoon thriller between old rivals at the MCG.
Dylan Moore kicked the opening goal of the game after five minutes, before the Blues piled on seven unanswered majors – the first time they have had kicked seven goals in a first term since round five, 2014 (against the Bulldogs).
It was scintillating footy from Michael Voss’ men, who took a 34-point edge into the first change. The Blues’ dominance was there for all to see: they led clearances 10-6 (and kicked five goals from it), centre clearances 7-2, inside 50s 17-8, and Charlie Curnow (three goals) and Harry McKay (two) continued their imperious form of last week.
The Hawks were forced to use their medical sub (Daniel Howe), after losing Jack Scrimshaw before half-time to a suspected fractured scapula.
BLUES v HAWKS Full match coverage and stats
Moore kicked the opening goal of the second term, before Jack Silvagni (three goals) and Curnow both added their second in quick succession. It took 14 minutes for Luke Breust to kick the next goal, and the crafty forward added a second and cut the margin to 27 points just a minute later.
Curnow kicked his third goal in the early stages of the third quarter, after getting on the end of a lovely pass from Lochie O’Brien, but Mitchell Lewis (one goal) opened his account soon after. The Hawks continued to press, and goals to Connor Macdonald and Chad Wingard – playing his 50th game for the club - reduced the margin to 18 points.
The Blues swung for home 17 points in front, but their lead soon evaporated, as goals to Tom Mitchell (23 touches, one goal), Harry Morrison (19 disposals, one goal) and Jack Gunston (two goals) made it six majors on the bounce for the Hawks.
The Blues need a hero, and Silvagni stepped up to the plate, kicking his third via a banana, but Gunston’s second four minutes later had Hawthorn back within a point.
Jacob Weitering peeled off his man to take a game-saving mark and McKay also came up with a clutch play to secure the four points.
“If there was one guy that was going to be on the end of it I’m pretty glad it was him (Weitering)… for him to be able to do that… he was huge in that second half,” Voss told Fox Footy post-game.
In what was a war of attrition, the Hawks also lost Grainger-Barass to injury, while the Blues have some concerns themselves, with both Marc Pittonet and Curnow headed to the bench in the dying stages.
“I just had a quick roll of the ankle and was a bit slow to get up,” Curnow told Fox Footy post-game.
Cripps continues sublime form
Heading into the game with a possible six Brownlow votes to his name, the Blues skipper picked up where he left off. Cripps was instrumental in setting up a 34-point quarter-time lead, before finishing the afternoon with 31 disposals (11 kicks, 20 handball), 11 tackles, one goal, six score involvements, six clearances and five inside 50s. Cripps would probably like to clean up his ball use at his times (he went at 68 percent disposal efficiency and turned the ball over eight times), but his first three weeks have reminded us of the player he was in his pomp.
Carlton forwards prove a handful
Last week, McKay, Curnow kicked nine goals between them, and during the first term of this one, the dynamic duo looked as though they were ready to repeat the dose. The Blues’ two-headed monster had the Hawks’ defence in a spin during the first quarter, before finishing the game with a combined five goals. McKay has kicked seven goals in 2022, after two today, and had 11 disposals, five marks (two contested), while Curnow has eight goals for the season after his bag of three. The injury-prone star also took five contested marks, had five score involvements and tallied 11 touches. And don’t overlook Silvagni’s role; the versatile forward is averaging two goals per game after another three against Hawthorn.
Milestone man goes down
It was a day to forget for consistent defender Jack Scrimshaw, who was celebrating his 50th AFL game. Not only did his side lose, but the 23-year-old, who played four games in 2017 for the Suns after being selected at pick seven in the 2016 NAB AFL Draft, was subbed out of the game before half-time with a suspected fractured scapula. Scrimshaw registered a career-high eight rebound 50s, plus 22 disposals in Hawthorn’s 64-point win against Port Adelaide in round two.
CARLTON 7.1 9.5 10.6 11.8 (74)
HAWTHORN 1.3 4.5 7.7 11.7 (73)
Carlton: Curnow 3, Silvagni 3, McKay, 2, Cripps, Durdin, Owies
Hawthorn: Moore 2, Breust, Gunston, Lewis, Macdonald, Mitchell, Morrison, Wingard
Carlton: Cripps, Weitering, Curnow, Williams, Docherty, Hewett
Hawthorn: Jiath, Mitchell, Worpel, Breust, Newcombe, Moore
Carlton: Pittonet (back), Curnow (ankle)
Hawthorn: Scrimshaw, Grainger-Barass
Carlton: Jack Martin (replaced Marc Pittonet)
Hawthorn: Daniel Howe (replaced Jack Scrimshaw)
Crowd: 66,317 at the MCG