Don’t look at the scoreboard from the Richmond-Carlton game and think, ‘Carlton only lost by two goals, they must have played all right.’ They weren’t. Their second half was much better, but it was the first half where they were exposed on so many levels.
Carlton’s kicking was atrocious. Too many times, Mitch Robinson would do something well then follow it up with a blind long bomb that resulted in a turn over. There was no run. Richmond were spreading so well, and at half time they had nearly double of what Carlton had in marks and an extra 40 uncontested possessions. There was no pressure from the Blues, and they seemed to have no game plan.
Chris Yarran was the man that turned it around. His pace absolutely cut through the running Tigers. His three goals were crucial and it was his pinpoint delivery that kept the Blues in the game.
Kade Simpson, Marc Murphy and second gamer Dylan Buckley also used the ball well, and they stood out from the rest of the slow, inside Carlton midfielders.
There is an issue with Mick Malthouse’s game plan too. Carlton was exclusively using the wings. It was so predictable, and what’s more was that they kept kicking to contests, yet their marking men, besides Waite and occasionally Henderson, were constantly beaten by Ben Griffiths.
The last, and perhaps most glaring issue, is that of their bottom six or so players. Ed Curnow, Mitch Robinson, Tom Bell (although he played well), Kane Lucas, Simon White and Sam Rowe – as well as the likes of Jaryd Cachia when he plays – wouldn’t be in the best 22 of most of the top clubs.
The issue with most of the midfielders is that they turn the ball over, or don’t have the skill to hit up leading targets lace out. Of course, every club needs these players to extract the ball, but Carlton have a plethora of these types.
White was okay last night and Rowe looked comfortable down back. They’re certainly limited players though.
It was said during the week that Carlton’s recruiting has been woeful. Nail on the head. It’s been deplorable. But the development of the younger players has been worse. Nick Graham’s VFL form has been nothing short of astounding since he came back from injury last year. Malthouse won’t play him.
Matthew Kreuzer has been played out of position for so long that he actually seems to have lost a lot of his promise. Kane Lucas is a good player, having decent speed and the ability to be a great link up player, but his skills haven’t improved much since he’s come into the competition.
Over the past three years, Carlton has been somewhat okay at recruiting. Patrick Cripps was taken way too early and he is very much the same as all the other slow, big inside midfielders. However, he does have more strings to his bow so he will be an upgrade on Cachia and Curnow. Yet players like Billy Hartung, Blake Acres or Lewis Taylor should have been taken at pick 13.
A pass mark is given to Cameron Giles. He is just the type of key back they need to release Henderson. Nick Holman is also a pass mark. It’s clear Carlton won’t take their chances on shorter players, as they overlooked Mitch Honeychurch who literally could have been their saviour. He is an outside midfielder with serious speed and excellent footskills, who finds the football and kicks goals. So he’s 10 cm shorter than Holman. So what.
2012 wasn’t too bad draft wise. Troy Menzel was excellent in patches last night. His skill and potential is so high that he’s one of the young players Carlton can hang their hat on. Tom Temay with their second pick might take time. Nick Graham was an absolute steal and should be playing every week.
2011 was somewhat okay. Josh Bootsma is not good enough and I’m not sure if he will improve. Sam Rowe filled an immediate need but he doesn’t have too much room to improve. Dylan Buckley was terrific last night. He’s the type of player Carlton need. It didn’t seem to matter that he was skinny or short last night and Carlton need to realise that tall midfielders aren’t necessarily better than short ones.
The 2010 draft looks disappointing. Matthew Watson, Patrick McCarthy, Luke Mitchell and Andrew McInnes haven’t got to where they should be, with only Watson and McInnes still on the list. Whether it is a case of poor development or just poor drafting is a line that has been blurred. Nick Duigan was the best of the lot and he’s been moved on.
Obviously it’s only round two. It’s not panic stations just yet, but Malthouse should be brave and introduce Graham, Cripps and Holman over the next few weeks. Buckley must retain his spot and there has to be more drive going through the corridor to ensure they aren’t predictable.