Spirited Blues do it for Simmo but Power spoil the party
PORT Adelaide spoiled Kade Simpson Appreciation Day, but the Blues' 300-gamer and his 21 teammates gave the Power an almighty scare at the MCG on Saturday.
In a competitive game that ebbed and flowed from start to finish, the Blues did everything in their power in an effort to win it for the 34-year-old defender, who joined Craig Bradley, John Nicholls, Bruce Doull and Stephen Silvagni as the only Carlton players to reach a triple hundred of games.
Simpson, himself, was more intent on chasing the four premiership points rather than casting an individual memory.
After a week where he had to do what he least likes - speaking publicly and being the centre of attention - he seemed far more composed in the heat of battle.
"I couldn't be prouder of the boys," Simpson said after the game. "We took it right up to them."
Simpson had a season-high 37 disposals, never missing a beat, and giving everything to his team as he has done for so long.
But as much as he and the Blues worked tirelessly, and seemed a chance when only two points down at the last change after keeping Port Adelaide scoreless in the third term, the Power got the job done when it mattered.
With Chad Wingard in fine form and Justin Westhoff continuing his hot streak, the Power kicked five goals to two in the last term to run out 21-point winners.
Simpson was outstanding, Charlie Curnow booted four goals, including three in the opening term, Patrick Cripps was locked in a great tussle with the Power's Ollie Wines, and Marc Murphy got better as the game went on in his long-awaited return to footy.
Brendon Bolton would have been disappointed, but knew his charges had given their all for the much-loved, much-respected Simpson, who received a big standing ovation from Blues fans at the six-minute mark of the first term, and finished the game being chaired off by Murphy and Ed Curnow in a guard of honour.
Darcy Byrne-Jones' faulty alarm clock cost him his position in Port Adelaide's team, and throughout much of the first quarter and the early part of the second the Power looked almost as if they had slept in, too.
Carlton kicked 5.0 - three of them to Charlie Curnow - in the opening term and when Jarrod Garlett looked to have nailed a sixth team major early in the second, it appeared as if a big upset was in the offing.
Then two things happened.
The first was a review of the Garlett "goal" when the ball had already travelled back to the middle, with match officials deeming it had been touched.
Then Robbie Gray turned on two minutes of magic that metaphorically rubbed the collective sleep out of Port Adelaide's eyes.
He was locked in a tight duel with Liam Jones, who seemed to have had the better of him early, and slipped away from him midway through the second term.
Gray took a grab in front of Jack Silvagni at the 12-minute-mark and put his team in front, and then the silky-smooth forward/midfielder gathered a loose ball, got himself around Jones, baulked another Blues defender, and slotted through what was his third goal.
The Blues were doing their best to hold on and Jones continued working hard on Gray, but his teammates just couldn't make the most of their opportunities.
Port Adelaide kicked five goals in the second term and looked to be coasting when Westhoff made the most of a free kick against Jacob Weitering to put his team four goals clear.
But in the shadows of half-time the Blues created something out of nothing. A long goal from Jarrod Pickett after the siren cut the difference back to 19 points, and the way every teammate got to him gave rise to some belief that they were back in the game.
The third quarter belonged to the Blues as they held an opponent scoreless for the first time in a quarter in five years. In contrast, the Blues added 2.5 through pressure and sheer deterimation.
Charlie Curnow set the standard for the quarter, kicking his fourth goal after dragging down another big mark, and launching long from just inside 50m. The other major came from a more unlikely source, Andrew Phillips, late in the term.
The difference at the last change was only two points, but as much as they tried in the last half-hour, the Blues just couldn't reel the Power in.
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