COLLINGWOOD 3.4 7.6 10.15 14.20 (104)
CARLTON 1.2 1.5 2.7 10.10 (70)
Goals: Collingwood: D Beams 4 J Elliott 3 J Witts 2 T Cloke 2 B Grundy L Ball S Dwyer. Carlton: L Henderson 2 A Everitt B Gibbs B McLean J Garlett L Casboult M Robinson R Warnock T Bell.
BEST: Collingwood: Langdon, Pendlebury, Beams, Swan, Blair, Witts, Williams. Carlton: Tuohy, Walker, Murphy, Everitt, Buckley.
Injuries: Collingwood: S Dwyer (knee), N Maxwell (back) replaced in selected side by B Kennedy, C Young (corked leg) replaced in selected side by T Adams. Carlton: J Waite (hamstring) replaced in selected side by T Bell, A Carrazzo (back) replaced in selected side by S Docherty.
Umpires: Chris Kamolins, Brett Rosebury, David Harris.
Official Crowd: 68,251 at MCG.
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Carlton were no match for Collingwood on Friday night at the MCG.
Anyone who has watched one of myriad cooking shows – probably those who switched over to one before half-time – would know that you can have all the ingredients and still make a bland little dish.
This was a game that had all the components for great sporting drama: a rivalry; an element of personal animus; a star defection; a crowd of 68,251; a Friday night showcase game. But it still lacked tension.
In fairness, some of the expectation was punctured before the contest began when Jarrad Waite and Andrew Carrazzo were late withdrawals from an already depleted Carlton side. Collingwood, too, had its late outs in Nick Maxwell and Clinton Young, but save for the fact they both resided in the same area of the ground and left the callow backline forced to retool, the Magpies had more depth to cover them.
Carlton began brightly with a goal in the opening few minutes when Mitch Robinson straddled Tyson Goldsack's head, but then the Blues failed to goal again for an hour. For three quarters they kicked two. On a clear night.
The Blues finished with a final-quarter eight-goal flurry, but the contest was never alive. It was like reading the last pages of a book then flicking back to the start.
Carlton was undermanned and played poorly. Collingwood did not play especially well, yet belted Carlton and should have won by a lot more except for wasteful kicking at goal.
Collingwood had what Carlton didn't across each line of the field: ascendancy in the ruck, more numbers through the middle, a tight and organised defence and multiple options in the forward line.
Carlton was forced to manufacture what it could. At one point in the second quarter Mick Malthouse emptied the forward line, sent Lachie Henderson to defence and tried to run the ball in to a short forward line. Jeff Garlett was not the man to be able to entrust with this task in the way Eddie Betts might have been. But Malthouse had to try something.
Through the middle of the ground, the Blues had Dylan Buckley and Zach Tuohy trying to carry the ball and Andrew Walker playing loose, but while they ran the ball up the wings they had nothing inside 50 to kick to and no one to trap it in.
Collingwood, in contrast, ran in waves. Marley Williams, brought back into the team after one VFL game, showed his worth. He has a step in his game and a cleverness by foot. He was rusty and will improve, but he holds his own in the meantime.
Tom Langdon surprised even the coaches on Anzac Day when he reversed a tapering of his form and in this game he took that Anzac form further. He has an old head about his play, a calmness born of an assuredness that he can take his time because he trusts his skills. Partly this is because he has learnt that refusing to rush enables him to invariably make the correct decision.
Sam Dwyer, as a relative fringe player, also has that about him.
Dwyer was a creative presence on a wing for the three quarters he was on the ground before being subbed out in the third quarter with a pain in the knee that he had only just returned from injuring.
The main moment of worry and anxiety for Collingwood was not about the play at all but the visits to the bench by Travis Cloke to have his knee iced after he cracked it into Heath Scotland's head early on in a marking contest.
Still, after the misery of the first-round loss, Nathan Buckley's side is now 5-2 and entrenched in the top four with a week off. And, as perfunctory as much if it might have felt, it also beat Carlton.