Carlton vs Melbourne: Dees beast stuns but ‘freak talent’, returning gun sav...

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Published Time: 09.05.2024 - 14:01:33 Modified Time: 09.05.2024 - 14:01:33

The Melbourne superstar’s left-foot snap from the pocket cut the margin to seven before Max Gawn made it a solitary point with a long-range set shot taken in a hurry to leave time to snatch the game. Carlton vs Melbourne, Carlton

Simon Goodwin played Petracca basically exclusively up forward on Thursday night for great effect, helping keep his side in it at stages – and near singlehandedly winning it for Melbourne – in a magnificent showing in a losing effort.

The most dangerous forward on the night, Petracca kicked four of his five goals in the second and third quarters alone to keep Melbourne alive when it felt like they were on the brink of getting blown out.

In fact, Petracca kicked five of the Demons’ total 11 goals to give them a great offensive boost with their other forwards struggling in the sloppy conditions.

“He’s the one who basically gave them a glimmer of hope. He was able to take a couple of marks – and good marks – and kick goals,” Hawks legend Jason Dunstall said on Fox Footy at half-time.

“His kicking from inside 40m is actually very good. He gets criticised at times, but he has a lot of his shots from way outside.

“I thought Petracca going forward gave them just a glimmer of hope.”

So successful was Petracca’s move forward in the second term that he spent 84 per cent time forward in the third quarter – kicking two goals from seven disposals and four score involvements.

Where the 28-year-old is best utilised has long been a topic of debate given Melbourne’s need for more firepower in the forward half. On Thursday night he showed just how effective that ace up Goodwin’s sleeve can be.

The Blues breathe a sigh of relief.

After dominating for the majority of the night, Carlton just held on in a one-point win over Melbourne at the MCG.

Michael Voss’ side kicked the first six goals off the match to put the Demons on the backfoot early in a buffer that proved important amid wet conditions at the MCG.

Melbourne charged home with four fourth-quarter goals to almost steal defeat at the death in a grandstand finish to nearly stun the Blues, who lost Adam Cerra to a hamstring injury.

Carlton had been sharp in all areas of the ground for most of the night including the return of Mitch McGovern shoring them up behind the ball.

Dual All-Australian Leigh Montagna observed McGovern had been “super” and said it “made a big difference” when he was out.

Meanwhile Western Bulldogs great Brad Johnson noted how having McGovern and Brodie Kemp back in defence helped Jacob Weitering “get back to his good form” and “leadership role,” having “taken Harrison Petty to the cleaners in the first half.”

Further up the field, Kangaroos legend David King praised the Blues’ pure entries forward of centre. King said Patrick Cripps spending more time forward was a valuable point of difference Voss should continue to utilise.

“I love their vision tonight forward of centre, finding different options. It’s not as bomb-y as what it’d been the previous few weeks,” King said.

“I think Cripps playing forward is something they haven’t really explored, but we saw snipers tonight.”

Sam Walsh put on a masterclass at the MCG.

The smooth-moving midfielder was dominant from the opening minutes of the game, finishing with 34 disposals, 13 contested, 10 tackles and one goal.

Hawthorn legend Jason Dunstall praised Walsh’s “work rate” and ability to cover the ground so effectively.

“He’s been everywhere. He’s been inside and outside, he’s done it all,” Dunstall said of Walsh on Fox Footy.

“It’s staggering to think what he’s been able to do since coming back from the back injury and not playing much footy.

“Obviously it would’ve affected his training schedule. But he hasn’t missed a beat and just gone bang from the moment he came back in.”

Showing a series of highlights including one where Walsh worked tirelessly from supporting the Blues defence all the way up the field inside 50, Roos legend David King said there’s “not many that can go with him”.

“When he’s playing like this, I reckon you get the opportunity to explore different things with Cerra and potentially Cripps going forward a bit more often,” King said.

“He’s everything to them – he wins clearances and his run and gun. He’s carried the ball and had a bit more patience tonight, he’s looked very composed.

“I’d love to see his GPS data and the effort runs this bloke puts in. There’s not many that can go with him. He’s a freak talent.”

Watching his workmate and overlap run, Saints champion Leigh Montagna said: “That’s how you get the outnumber, it’s the contest-to-contest running.

“To be able to execute and finish your work when you do run at that speed and length, it’s elite.”

Final teams are in for tonight’s clash. There are no late changes, with George Hewett (CAR) and Taj Woewodin (MEL) named the starting substitutes.

With tumbling at the MCG, the ball might end up a cake of soap.

St Kilda great Leigh Montagna said before the game the Demons “do not play well in the wet”, with Hawthorn legend Jason Dunstall stating “everything’s going to be simplified tonight” as the panel discussed the weather’s implications.

However, coach Simon Goodwin told Fox Footy pre-game “we’re prepared for wet weather ... for these kinds of conditions.”

On the other side of the ledger, speaking to the panel pre-game, Carlton coach Michael Voss reflected on his side’s recent defensive disharmony and how it correlates with the form of Weitering.

“I think we can concede some of that,” Voss admitted.

“We’ve certainly had plenty of discussion that, and obviously we’ve been talking over the last couple of weeks our defence and what it needs to look like, and how we support ‘Weiters’.

“How our system moves together will be important. There (are) obviously individual battles that need to be won, but there’s (also) a system that needs to operate around it, and it has to operate to our strengths.

“We feel like we haven’t quite got that (system) as good as what we need it — certainly not consistent enough — and that’s something we’d like to implement tonight.”