Carlton's AFL finals hopes have taken a hit and they could be without backman Nic Newman for the next round after going down to the Brisbane Lions at Marvel Stadium on Friday night. It was a frustrating night for the Blues, who enjoyed a strong first quarter but were outplayed either side of half-time in the 15.10 (100) to 11.8 (74) defeat.
Newman didn't help the cause when, five minutes into the third quarter, collected Brisbane's Lachie Neale with an elbow to the jaw as he attempted to check the dangerous Lions midfielder at a ball-up in Brisbane's forward 50. Neale wasn't able to capitalise with a goal, but it was a sign of some frustration from Carlton, who simply couldn't get their hands on the ball in the third quarter.
Not only that, but they gave up five unanswered goals for the quarter. They kept their heads up despite trailing by 40 points at three-quarter time.
The Blues booted four goals in a row to start the fourth quarter to threaten a potentially memorable comeback, but it would come for nought as the Lions got steadying majors from Eric Hipwood and Harry Sharp to put the contest to bed.
Newman could be fortunate that the hit on Neale was not a particularly high-impact blow, with the 2020 Brownlow Medal winner getting up quickly and taking his shot on goal. Tempers briefly flared after the hit, with one Brisbane player overheard on the umpire's microphone labelling it a 'dog shot'.
Earlier in the game, Carlton forward Harry McKay had to come from the ground under the blood rule after a nasty head clash with Brisbane's Harris Andrews as both chased a loose ball on the wing. McKay reeled backwards after the hit, but was able to return to the game after a cut under his eye was patched up.
"That's a dog shot" - Newman collects Neale with a forearm/elbow to the chin. Anything to worry about here?
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— Fox Footy (@FOXFOOTY) May 5, 2023
Careless high contact low impact = fine but won’t be surprised if it comes back a week with MRO lottery
— Paul KP (@pkpcho) May 5, 2023
Very good umpiring to spot the free kick. But that’s enough action for that one
— BK (@BK66481562) May 5, 2023
That’s a week.
— Rob Lannister (@rob_lannister) May 5, 2023
Blues finals hopes at risk after third loss on four games
After entering the season with hopes of making the top eight after narrowly missing out last season, Carlton have now dropped to a 4-3 record with a draw on top - leaving them at risk of falling behind the likes of Geelong, Adelaide, Essendon and the Western Bulldogs later this weekend. Head coach Michael Voss said he was pleased with how the Blues had fought back in the final quarter, but conceded Blues fans were right to be frustrated - with a chorus of boos coming from fans at the three-quarter time siren.
Carlton rallied to kick 5.3 to 3.1 in the last quarter, but the Lions still recorded a resounding 26-point victory, inflicting a third defeat in four games on the Blues. Voss said the club welcomed the pressure of having almost 90,000 members to perform for.
"When you've got that wave of support, you want them to bring the noise," he said. "With that, there's good, and with that there's also some things that you're going to have to go through as well.
"But what they should know is that they've got a group here that have a really strong desire to want to get better. We got some feedback that says that we need to go to work on a few things, so we understand the frustration and and we'll get after it - that's our promise."
Voss said it was not up to him to "determine what they can and can't do". "All I know is that I'd rather have our fanbase," he said.
"I'd rather have them there being able to create some noise for us. We're in a really privileged position in that we've got a very large supporter base so we will embrace that more than anything."
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