Drought-breaker: Carlton pull off first finals win in 10 years at heaving MCG

Save articles for later

Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.

Another Carlton drought is over.

Michael Voss’ resurgent Blues led from go-to-whoa, but had to survive a series of Sydney fightbacks – including a last-minute Hayden McLean goal – to win their first final in a decade in front of a heaving MCG full of Carlton diehards.

The six-point triumph capped the Blues’ unlikely revival from the bottom four after 13 rounds, when they had dropped six straight games and critics were baying for blood, including even Voss’ job.

They resurrected what looked like a wasted season with an extraordinary nine victories on the trot – and it could yet end in a fairytale flag. They will be back at the MCG next week to take on 2021 premiers Melbourne, who they edged out by four points in a thriller in round 22.

Let them roar: Patrick Cripps.Credit: Getty

Blake Acres’ goal from point-blank range in the last five minutes proved just enough to hold the Swans off, after a diving Jack Martin handball, but Sydney still had chances after that, with Sam Wicks and Justin McInerney missing gettable chances.

McLean’s goal from a similar distance at the other end left fewer than 30 seconds for the Swans to try to draw the game and send it to extra time, or somehow pinch victory. But Carlton managed to soak up the dying seconds before a Nic Newman intercept mark in the middle of the ground sealed the result.

Martin took two telling intercept marks late and also kicked two goals of his own, but his continued involvement in Carlton’s finals series is in doubt after he made contact to Nick Blakey’s face with a swinging arm in the opening term. Blakey sat out the rest of that quarter but passed a concussion test.

Carlton’s Jack Martin is set to face scrutiny.Credit: Channel Seven

There is also an injury cloud hanging over Harry McKay, who finished the match on the bench after coming off second-best in a heavy contest. McKay had his usual interesting night, missing two sitters that could have been costly.

Sam Walsh was outstanding from the outset, but had great support from ex-Dockers Acres and Adam Cerra, while skipper Patrick Cripps warmed into the contest and kicked an important goal in the third term.

The unlikely hero was Matt Cottrell, who helped set the win up with two first-half goals before running down Errol Gulden late in the third quarter as he prepared to kick Sydney inside 50 after they had already kicked back-to-back goals.

There was also an extended score review in the fourth term on a Gulden shot that could have slashed Carlton’s lead to three points but was instead called a behind. Gulden was one of the instigators for the Swans, but Hayden McLean and Luke Parker – who went forward in the second half – were also important.

Tom Papley was influential in his return, and Tom McCartin kept two-time Coleman medallist Charlie Curnow to one goal.

The Blues were deservedly 29 points clear at half-time and seemed on their way to a comfortable victory, after the Swans briefly steadied from Carlton’s opening onslaught.

They were monstering Sydney in contested ball at that stage (85-65), and were stout with their pressure across the ground, as well as being dominant in the air down back, thanks to Mitch McGovern, Caleb Marchbank and Brodie Kemp.

Jacob Weitering was not as impactful as usual, with McLean proving a handful and dragging him out of his defensive 50.

Chris Judd, Marc Murphy and Bryce Gibbs combined for 78 disposals as the Mick Malthouse-coached Blues beat Richmond by 20 points in a 2013 elimination final the last time they saluted at this end of the season.

John Barker, Brendon Bolton and David Teague followed Malthouse without any being able to turn Carlton around until Brisbane Lions great Voss took over, in his second chance as a senior coach.

There was heartbreak last season when they stumbled in the final round, but they were playing as well as anyone entering September and can dare to dream.

3.2 7.5 10.6 11.8 (74)
1.5 2.6 7.9 9.14 (68)

Carlton: Martin 2, Cottrell 2, Acres, Cripps, Docherty, Cuningham, Curnow, Owies, Cerra
Sydney Swans: McDonald 2, Gulden 2, Parker 2, Amartey, McLean, Hayward

Carlton: Walsh, Acres, Hewett, Cottrell, Cerra, Martin, Saad, Newman. Sydney: Gulden, McCartin, Parker, McLean, Papley, Blakey.

Nicholls, Broadbent, Findlay, Mollison

CROWD 92,026 at MCG

Most Viewed in Sport

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article