Ed’s per­for­mance full of Mer­rett

Sunday Herald Sun - - Sport - GLENN McFARLANE

CARL­TON’S Ed Curnow might have an ap­point­ment with the tri­bunal this week, but the job he did on Essendon’s Zach Mer­rett yes­ter­day was ev­ery bit as note­wor­thy as his con­tact with um­pire Nathan Wil­liamson dur­ing the third quar­ter at the MCG.

Curnow’s blan­ket job on last year’s All-Aus­tralian mid­fielder gave coaches yet an­other rea­son why tag­ging Mer­rett is es­sen­tial in pre­plan­ning for the Bombers.

And un­less Mer­rett can find a way to deal with the closecheck­ing, his sea­son will be as painfully long as it looks like be­ing for his club.

Yes­ter­day he could not find the space or, seem­ingly, the spirit to break clear of Curnow, who has av­er­aged 27 dis­pos­als, 10 con­tested pos­ses­sions and nine tack­les this year in a side that started yes­ter­day 0-7.

It was the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive week Mer­rett has strug­gled to break a tag, af­ter Hawthorn young­ster James Cousins re­stricted him to only 17 touches and zero im­pact.

Fremantle’s Bai­ley Ban­field did a sim­i­lar job on him in Round 2.

Curnow’s ef­fec­tive shut­down yes­ter­day pro­vided a COACHING is a lit­tle like fa­ther­hood, Bren­don Bolton says, and there was no prouder man at the MCG yes­ter­day as Carl­ton notched its first win of the sea­son.

Bolton said he would al­low his play­ers to en­joy their 13point vic­tory over Essendon — just not for too long — as he eyed con­tin­ued devel­op­ment from his young team.

“Just a bit of pride is the main emo­tion,” Bolton said. “We had quite a few young­sters out there, which we have most weeks, and for them to ex­pe­ri­ence that feel­ing of win­ning is re­ally im­por­tant.

“They’ve just got to chas­ing that feel­ing.”

That feel­ing was pal­pa­ble as play­ers were drenched in Ga­torade af­ter seven Blues tasted their first win at the club. Bolton said it had been a try­ing time with in­juries and nav­i­gat­ing their way through the de­vel­op­men­tal process.

He said it would be im­por­tant to en­sure his team doesn’t “get too high” and there had to be a bal­ance.

“It’s im­por­tant they smile,” he said. “It’s a hard grind at times and, when you’re learn­ing the ropes, there’s some­times some highs and lows along the way, which we’ve had.”

Stand-in skip­per Pa­trick Cripps — la­belled a “con­tested beast” by his coach — said the “feel­ing in­side just makes you want to do it again”.

And he was hope­ful that af­ter “a tough start to the year”, yes­ter­day might be a spark.

“The best thing about the group is that it’s been tough but the morale around the place has been up­beat,” Cripps said. “We’ve had a few in­juries and we’re young, but we know keep tem­plate that will be used for the rest of the sea­son.

Curnow went with Mer­rett al­most ev­ery­where, other than at the start of the third term when Essendon coach John Wors­fold had Mer­rett start deep in at­tack. Al­lowed some space for once, Mer­rett scored the first goal of the term.

But the respite didn’t last and Curnow also man­aged two goals of his own, in­clud­ing the most cru­cial one in the fi­nal term that gave the Blues some breath­ing space.

Curnow had 24 dis­pos­als and laid 13 tack­les. Mer­rett could man­age only 16 touches.

Af­ter the AFL tri­bunal sus- if we stick to the plan and keep up­skilling these guys that this ex­pe­ri­ence is go­ing to be in­valu­able go­ing down the track.

“(The feel­ing is) joy, and also a bit of con­fi­dence. When you’re go­ing 0-7, no mat­ter how old you are, you start ... not doubt­ing, but you want to get that be­lief back.

“Hope­fully the young guys re­ally build some be­lief and this can kick­start a few games in a row for us.”

Part of Bolton’s cel­e­bra­tion was recog­nis­ing his coaching team.

“With coaches, when it’s not work­ing the first thing you do is look at self,” he said.

“It’s a bit like be­ing a dad. It’s ‘What else can we do to help?’ Of­ten, you can bash your­self up in your mind.

“It’s been hard yards to find, ‘What else can we do?’ Some­times it’s not much more you can do other than sup­port the play­ers. Maybe it’s just be­ing with them and shake their hands. That’s prob­a­bly the best way to cel­e­brate.”

Mean­while, if last week was quick­sand for Essendon, yes­ter­day was a sink­hole.

Bereft of con­fi­dence, the team that was tipped pre-sea­son to con­tend for fi­nals fell short in an ugly af­fair against a tra­di­tional ri­val, in the tra­di­tional times­lot at the home of foot­ball.

The Bombers’ sea­son of­fi­cially on life sup­port.

This was sup­posed to have been their way out of the mire, but their los­ing streak blew out to four and Gee­long (MCG), Greater Western Syd­ney (Spot­less Sta­dium) and Rich­mond (MCG) await in the next three weeks. is pended Gee­long’s Tom Hawkins for a week for touch­ing an um­pire last week, Curnow would be con­cerned about to­day’s match re­view.

“I haven’t seen it to un­der­stand it, but what I will say is we al­ways should pro­tect umpires,” Carl­ton coach Bren­don Bolton said last night.

The way Curnow belted out the Carl­ton song, his at­ten­tion was solely on a break­through win that re­sulted from hard work and con­tested ef­fort.

His younger brother Char­lie gets most of the ex­ter­nal at­ten­tion — un­der­stand­ably — but yes­ter­day Ed’s blue-col­lar work rate was so sig­nif­i­cant.

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