Dogs win but Blues show future is bright
THE bloke writing Carlton's priority pick submission should hope the AFL's powerbrokers didn't catch much of Sunday's Etihad Stadium mockbuster.
A day after the AFL admitted the league could return to the bad old days of pre-draft priority picks, Carlton's exact level of ineptitude was a key talking point.
On Sunday's evidence, Brendon Bolton's Blues are wooden spoon-while-rebuilding bad, but far from rock-bottom last-days-of-Fitzroy bad.
In fact, for vast periods of the Etihad Stadium game the Blues were darned good.
To be frank this contest was no oil painting, both sides sharing 755 possessions for just 17 goals in perfect Docklands conditions.
Finally a late Bulldogs rush decided the contest in a crazy few minutes where Jed Lamb whacked Marcus Bontempelli in the back with a behind-the-play hit and an Etihad Stadium fan threw a bottle of soft drink at Dale Thomas.
Yet for the Carlton faithful after a long and painful year the old stagers and young kids combined seamlessly, up for the fight for the entire afternoon.
Rangy first-gamer Tom De Koning provided the warm and fuzzy moment, slotting his first goal and was engulfed by 17 teammates, the boy whose Dutch nickname translates to "The King".
Early on Harry McKay hit up on a lead and found De Koning for a juggling mark, whose squared ball found Charlie Curnow for a towering pack mark and goal.
Those are the kind of moments that must sustain Blues fans, while at the same time alerting AFL House that this side is not as bad as it often seems.
McKay continues to grow in front of the eyes of the Carlton faithful, his 12th game this year yet more vindication of the Blues' patient approach with him.
He has kicked 18 goals already this year but on Sunday he proved he has the tank to surge him up the ground to take relieving marks and hit up targets closer goal.
No one truly believes the Blues will get a pre-draft priority pick but a priority selection after the non-finalists is possible, with McKay taken in the same range (pick 10) as that potential pick next year.
Simpson was magnificent, capping his 11-possession first term with a half-volley collect and goal on the run and was a superb organiser and rebounder all day.
The 306-gamer Simpson is a certainty to go on next year along with Dale Thomas, full of run and cheek on Sunday and thankfully missed by that bottle thrower.
While Simpson might not get to Craig Bradley's Carlton record 375 games he will surely pass Stephen Silvagni (312 games) and perhaps even John Nicholls (328) given he seems to have so much left in the tank.
Meanwhile ex-Port ruckman Matthew Lobbe played his fifth game in a row, continuing to show in Matthew Kreuzer's absence he is so much more than the salary dump that was the motivation for him getting to Ikon Park.
The Bulldogs have racked up massive midfield numbers in recent weeks but against the Blues they got little reward early despite again padding the stats sheet.
Finally after nine lead changes they found the composure to launch the matchwinning surge.
Bontempelli and Dunkley are fire and ice, Dunkley a hard-nut ball winner who mixed 36 sometimes wayward possessions with 0.3 and The Bont's scalpel of a left foot setting up a string of attacking thrusts.
Around them Lachie Hunter and Jack Macrae continued excellent seasons with the Dogs having strung together three consecutive wins and eight for the year.
it is a platform for Luke Beveridge to build on even if this afternoon's work will quickly disappear from the memory bank for all involved.
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