Essendon Bombers’ fans should be up and about, Carlton Blues ruck and rolling, Harley Reid living up to the hype

“Bombers fans should be up and about,” Buckley told SEN on Monday.

Blues ruck’n’rolling

It was a sight familiar to those who followed the old dark, navy Blues of 1979 to 1982. Those dominant sides yielded the ’79 premiership, under captain-coach Alex Jesaulenko, and the 1981-82 flags, under coach David Parkin, and could have trademarked the third-term moniker “premiership quarter”, such was their habit of turning a contest after the main break.

That’s just what the Blues did on Saturday afternoon, when, trailing by 22 points in the third quarter, they booted six goals in 14 minutes to take charge against the previously unbeaten Giants.

Two bulls: Carlton skipper Patrick Cripps had the better of Tom Green in a heavyweight clash at Marvel Stadium.Credit: Getty

Patrick Cripps, with a best-on-ground 39 touches and 13 clearances in his bull-versus-bull battle with Tom Green, and Sam Walsh, with 35 touches, including 17 score involvements, were superb. But the win should now settle any debate whether ruckman Tom De Koning and Marc Pittonet can play in the same team. Pittonet is a robust, old-fashioned ruck, while De Koning has the athleticism and, crucially, can go forward and kick goals. He had three against the Giants, forming a potent marking combination with Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay, the trio combining for nine.

That the Blues had 14 players unavailable because of injury heading into this battle, of which at least 10 are in their best side, highlighted the depth they haven’t had in decades. Zac Williams was subbed off at half-time after an Achilles “knock”, and Jacob Weitering finished with a corked quad, which could test the Blues even further in a Saturday twilight blockbuster against Geelong.

Harley downs the Dockers

While the Harley Reid hype is real, the No.1 draft selection was stiff not to claim the Glendinning-Allan Medal in the derby out west on Saturday night. Elliot Yeo took that honour as the Eagles claimed back-to-back wins for the first time in almost three years and the Dockers suffered their third straight defeat.

The result has turned the spotlight on Justin Longmuir, and the Dockers coach had little trouble explaining what went wrong, declaring his team had been “smoked”.

“From the 20-minute mark in the first quarter for about two-and-a-half quarters, we got smoked in the contest,” Longmuir said after his side slipped out of the top eight.

“We’ve got to be better than that. We’ve got to be able to respond quicker, and I thought once they got on top on the scoreboard, we started getting reactive … so a lot went wrong.”

Harley Reid starred against the Dockers.

Harley Reid starred against the Dockers.Credit: Getty

But the real question has got to be why things went so wrong for so long? Two-and-a-half quarters is an eternity in a game of football. These are professional athletes and coaches, who should be able to change course quickly.

The Dockers had been excellent defensively before the derby destruction, but their troubles forward of the ball are a major issue. Longmuir publicly addressed this last week, but his team still had only 40 inside-50s on Saturday. Over the past three weeks, the Dockers have managed two scores of 63 and now 68.

Meanwhile, the Eagles have had back-to-back scores of 100 or more for the first time since their premiership year of 2018. And much credit must go to wunderkind Reid, last week’s Rising Star nominee backing up with 19 disposals, seven clearances and three goals.


The new “Prince of Perth” is already must-watch viewing, worthy of the price of admission alone. Big marks up forward, dashing clearances when in the middle, and a willingness to get physical – check out his legal front-on bump on Bailey Banfield in the final term, which flattened the Docker as he released a handball – will have North Melbourne supporters shaking their heads for years as to why they won round 24 last season, costing themselves the top draft pick.

Little wonder Eagles’ chief executive Don Pyke said on Saturday that the Eagles wanted to lock in the six-game wonder, through his manager Nick Gieschen of Connors Sports, for as long as possible. Negotiations can now begin – a new ruling this season restricted clubs from signing new deals with a draftee until after round six. Reid is currently contracted until the end of 2026.

Happy Hawks


This masthead on Sunday discussed the potentially rugged rebuilding equation facing Hawthorn and North Melbourne, but the Hawks ticked off one smaller, but important, issue in their thumping win at Marvel Stadium on Sunday. The Hawks had not won a first term this season, managing only 44 overall points, while conceding a whopping 155, but finally broke through against the Kangaroos, edging their opponents by seven points by the first change. This has no bearing on their long-term rebuild, but it ends an unwanted record.

Fortress stormed

What’s happened to the Gabba fortress? And we are talking football and cricket here. The Lions boasted an intimidating 42-5 win-loss record at their home venue from 2020-23, but this season have been beaten in all three games, by Carlton, Collingwood and now the Cats in heavy rain on Saturday night. Admittedly, the defeats have been against premiership contenders, although the Magpies were winless at the time. Perhaps it’s something in the water up north, for it’s not just the Lions who have lost their aura at home. Touring cricket nations no longer fear the bounce and seam of the Gabba, Australia’s unbeaten run that began in 1988-89 ending against India in 2021, before the West Indies enjoyed one of the greatest upsets of recent times last summer.

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