Charlie Curnow in action for Carlton against Collingwood.
Charlie Curnow in action for Carlton against Collingwood.

Curnow can’t hide Carlton cracks

THANK goodness for Charlie Curnow.

When the AFL gifted Carlton four Friday night and one Thursday night games this season it appeared the Blues' incoming chief executive would be happiest with the dream draw.

Instead it must've been the curly-haired kid with the biggest grin. Curnow's first 15 minutes were electric and he appears built for blockbusters.

Curnow, 21, dragged a nervous Jeremy Howe to full-back, won a game-high six disposals and helped the Blues to a 19-point lead with four inside 50s.

All of this a fortnight after strutting to 5.0 in the season-opener against Richmond.

Unfortunately, reality set in - just as it did against the Tigers. The AFL's bizarre act of fixture goodwill faded fast.

Charlie Curnow flies high. Picture: Michael Klein
Charlie Curnow flies high. Picture: Michael Klein

Disillusioned Carlton fans watched on as a Collingwood forward line missing its most potent players blasted through the next 10 goals.

Crunch. A 19-0 scoreboard morphed into a 41-point deficit against a skeleton attack in 50 glum minutes.

Carlton premiership coach David Parkin was disgusted.

"Look across the board and see the body language of Carlton players," Parkin told ABC.


"No leadership, nobody grabbing them together, nobody doing the things to suggest this is unacceptable."

The Blues won 14 of the first 15 hardball gets and lost nine of the next 12. They won 24 of the first 36 contested possessions and then trailed the count at half-time.

They simply couldn't get hands on the footy. Star ruckman Matthew Kreuzer was ineffective and opponent Brodie Grundy earned four free kicks.

It was bleedingly obvious at quarter-time how Collingwood was trying to score.

Carlton coach Brendon Bolton after speaking to his players.
Carlton coach Brendon Bolton after speaking to his players.

The Magpies wanted a fast break and open forward line to generate easy looks at goal, and so the Blues probably needed to slow the game down.

They couldn't. Despite mustering more inside 50s, it was the Magpies who prevailed by 24 points.

Ed Curnow blanketed Steele Sidebottom in the second quarter and Matthew Kennedy's stoppage presence eased the reliance on Patrick Cripps. But they were minor wins.

This was a party for the Pies. Their stretch of goals ended when Levi Casboult received a free-kick after some contact from Lynden Dunn.

Casboult would kick three in the third quarter and Curnow would continue to show special sparks.

But after Carlton's 12th loss from its past 13 games coach Brendon Bolton must know the heat is coming. After 47 games in the box Bolton is 13-34.

Jacob Weitering leads Carlton off at half-time.
Jacob Weitering leads Carlton off at half-time.

The Blues have had 23 coaches in charge for at least 20 games and Bolton's winning percentage is only better than Denis Pagan's.

There are excuses. The Blues are on a journey and Bolton knew it would be a long one, however starting 0-3 for the fifth time in six seasons will test the patience of fans.

The addition of recycled players including Matt Shaw (Gold Coast), Cam O'Shea (Port Adelaide) and Aaron Mullett (North Melbourne) might not be the long-term answer.

On Friday night the Blues were just two games less experienced and two months younger than the injury-hit Magpies.


No.3 pick Paddy Dow will be a jet when experience elicits polish and No.1 pick Jacob Weitering will be a repelling force when his confidence gauge reverses its current drain.

Weitering's double-fisted spoil attempt gave the Pies their third goal as he missed the footy and then lay on the ground in disappointment.

Footy fans have another three Carlton Friday nights to look forward to - against the Western Bulldogs, Sydney (SCG) and St Kilda.

Thank goodness for Charlie Curnow.

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