Fans cringe at ‘appalling’ AFL clash

It wasn’t the greatest advertisement for Australian rules football, but Carlton managed to outmuscle Hawthorn at the MCG on Saturday.

Carlton defeated Hawthorn to notch its fourth win of the season but AFL fans and pundits were far from thrilled with the calibre of Saturday afternoon’s contest.

Touted as a chance to return to finals footy in the pre-season, the Blues have endured a lukewarm season thus far and were less than impressive in their 23-point victory. Their inefficiency inside 50 (35.7 per cent) kept the struggling Hawks in the game until late in the final term.

Hawthorn, who last week lost to cellar-dwellers North Melbourne, bettered Carlton in the clearance (45-37), contested possession (150-145) and turnover counts (82-72) but were also guilty of some poor skills inside 50.

AFL fans unleashed on both teams during the game, calling the contest “appalling”, “ordinary” and “one of the worst games of the year” despite the undeniable effort shown by both sides.


If Carlton is pondering getting some new help for coach David Teague, club bosses might want to start with signing up a kicking guru as soon as possible.

On a perfect day for football at a sun-soaked MCG, Carlton butchered the ball by foot and despite giving up a four-goal lead, their ball-winning dominance proved too strong in a scrappy, but ultimately gutsy 23-point win.

Quiet all day, Coleman Medal leader Harry McKay sealed the victory with a roost from outside the forward 50m which helped Teague exhale a sigh of relief as his team notched its fourth win for the season.

Hawthorn again dished up loads of effort but still finds itself lacking in that full four-quarters of grunt work needed to make up for their key position shortcomings.

Carlton’s on-ball stars Sam Walsh and Patrick Cripps proved the ultimate difference between the two teams early but despite dominating possession and inside 50s, the Blues couldn’t put their opponents away.

Instead the Hawks, less than a week after losing to the last-placed Kangaroos, mopped up constant Carlton kicking-errors, brought a renewed intensity and kicked four goals to one either side of halftime to take the lead in the third quarter.

Alastair Clarkson’s men were hardly perfect themselves by foot and then the Blues, who should have put the game away before halftime, steadied again and with the last three goals of the third term regained control.

Carlton’s goals were coming via unstructured means, unable to find McKay in any sort of threatening way as Hawks defenders defused a long-string of long-bombs.

But the prolific ball-winning of Walsh and Cripps in tight situations and Jacob Weitering’s unwavering resistance in defence stood out on a day where the better scrappers won out.


In tight games the simplest of mistakes can prove telling.

With Hawthorn behind by three points in the third quarter young forward Jacob Koschitzke snaffle took a strong mark just to the left of the goal square after a lob from teammate Luke Bruest which should have been a shot at goal.

Instinctively, Koschitzke played on, thinking he was walking in to an open goal, only to be cut down by a desperate tackled from Carlton defender Nic Newman.

The missed opportunity was costly. Rather than Hawthorn getting the lead back, Carlton kicked the next three goals and were never headed again.


Coaches talk about not just playing to the whistle, but playing to the siren, but sometimes that means going beyond the blast when the ball is still alive.

That was the case just before halftime when Daniel Howe launched a scrubby speculator towards the Hawthorn goals from outside 50, close to the boundary line, with just seconds left in the term.

It found a gap among a bunch of players, hit the ground and took a massive bounce 15m from goal as the siren went.

It kept bouncing, past the outstretched and desperate hands of blues defender Jacob Weitering, and went through for an unbelievable goal.

It was Hawthorn’s fourth goal in the final five minutes of the quarter and made the gap at the long break just three points.


The potential double-threat young Carlton big man Tom De Koning is going to present in coming years has to be exciting for Carlton fans.

Playing just his 10th AFL game, and first for 2021, the 21-year-old was out to make an impact and did it in the middle of the ground as well as in the air around the MCG.

At one stage he out-marked high-flying teammate Liam Jones just in front of the Carlton bench, reaching over from behind Jones to snaffle the ball.

Jones ended up on the ground, no idea who had been able to leap higher than him, only to see De Koning standing tall with the ball in his hand.

De Koning also kicked a goal and if the Blues had offered up some better delivery going forward, he could have had more.

CARLTON 4.1 8.3 12.4 13.8 (86)

HAWTHORN 2.3 7.6 8.9 9.9 (63)


Hawthorn: Bruest 3, Morrison 2, Koschitzke, Lewis, Howe, Moore

Carlton: Owies 2, Mckay 2, Betts, Silvagni, De Koning, Williams, Walsh, Pittonet, Gibbons, Murphy


Hawthorn: Worpel, Bruest, Mitchell, Wingard, Scrimshaw

Carlton: Walsh, Weitering, Cripps, Docherty, Williams, Curnow, Betts

CROWD: 45,741


Hawthorn: O’Meara (TBC)


Player of the year votes

3 Sam Walsh (Carlton)

2 Patrick Cripps (Carlton)

1 Sam Docherty (Carlton)

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