The AFL’s controversial score review system has been thrust back into the spotlight with one call dividing fans.
In front of 92,026 fans at the MCG the Blues withstood a barnstorming Sydney Swans finish to record the 11.8 (74) to 9.14 (68) victory.
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After a dominant opening half which saw the Blues lead by 29-points, the Swans clicked into gear after the main break.
A seven goal to four second half had fans on the edge of their seats as Sydney closed the margin to within a goal with only 30 seconds on the clock.
The Blues however held firm and booked their spot into a semi-final showdown next weekend against Melbourne.
For Sydney their MCG hoodoo continues after being obliterated in the Grand Final last year. They’ve failed to win at the home of football since their qualifying final win in September 2022 while their horror record against the Blues at the MCG lives on having not won since 1918.
Blues skipper Patrick Cripps was playing in his first final and fell to the turf as the final siren rang out as the emotion poured out.
Sydney came home with a wet sail but were dealt a cruel twist of karma as the score review system went against them.
A shot from outside 50 from star midfielder Errol Gulden looked to have cleared the pack and through the goals.
But a Blues defender threw his hand in the arm shouting he had touched the ball and the goal umpire agreed.
The score was sent upstairs for review with the umpires soft signal a touched behind. As the footage rolled the commentary crew was split.
“I’m not sure there’s a glove on that,” Brian Taylor said.
Luke Hodge added: “It’s a behind. I don’t think you can overrule it.”
Matthew Richardson said: “I can’t see any evidence of that ball being touched. I reckon it’s a goal.”
Ultimately the review agreed the ball had been touched and a behind was given to the Swans, much to the delight of Adelaide fans watching on.
Carlton will now be anxiously waiting on the injury outcome of forward Harry McKay after he collided with Swan Tom McCartin.
McKay was left dazed before being assisted from the ground by trainers.
The Blues will take on the Demons next Friday night at the MCG with the winner advancing to the preliminary final where they’ll take on either the Brisbane Lions or Port Adelaide.
10pm – The Swans are back within single figures
Sydney are within striking distance of the Blues for the first time since the opening quarter.
A lazy attempt at trying to clear from their goal line saw the Blues fumble and Luke Parker said thank you very much by slotting a goal to bring it back to nine points.
9.30pm – Game well and truly on here
The Swans have come to life in the third quarter and it’s back to under a two goal margin.
Errol Gulden kicked a blinder on the run from just inside the boundary and the Swans have kidnapped the momentum with the opening three goals of the term.
But just as the Swans had turned up the intensity, the Blues responded with the next two goals to extend their lead.
Patrick Cripps made it three straight for the Blues after he caught Nick Blakey holding the ball 40m out from goal.
The inspirational skipper slotted the goal straight through the big sticks as the noise around the stadium erupted. Cripps stared into the heart of the Blues faithful and mouthed “Let’s f***ing go”.
9pm – Swans in serious strife at halftime
Carlton have come out guns blazing in their return to the finals with the Blues delighting their fans with a dominant opening half.
As the team twos head into the rooms it’s the Blues on top holding a 29 point advantage at the main break.
Sydney have continually butchered opportunities in front of goal, kicking two goals and six behinds.
8.35pm – Blues player’s selfless act almost proves costly
Matt Owies must have forgot the Coleman Medal race doesn’t include finals.
The Blues forward tried to deliver a selfless act and feed superstar teammate Charlie Curnow an easy goal.
Owies was running into a vacant goal when he looked to dish the ball off to Curnow, the only issue is Curnow wanted no part of it.
In the end the ball looped up in the air before Owies caught it again and kicked the goal following a review.
Blues coach Michael Voss couldn’t believe what he’d just seen unfold and laughed the moment off with Owies when he came to the bench.
Brian Taylor said on Channel 7’s coverage: “Have a look at this. Michael Voss said ‘ just kick the goal, what are you doing?’ would be the advice.”
8.05pm – Hit could cause concern for Blues star
Jack Martin might be facing an anxious wait if the Blues are to secure the win tonight.
The Blues livewire delivered a swinging right arm that landed cleanly on the chin of Swans defender Nick Blakey.
Blakey looked shaken up shortly after and was taken down to the rooms after the Swans doctors assessed the footage.
7.55pm – Explosive start for the Blues
Less than two minutes into the contest and the Blues have two goals on the board. Sam Docherty got the contest underway with a goal from a stoppage before Coleman Medal winner Charlie Curnow kicked the second following a Blues centre clearance.
The noise around the ground erupted as the Blues faithful were treated to the perfect start.
7:30pm – ‘Bad omen’ strikes Swans
The Melbourne conditions have wreaked havoc on the Sydney Swans before the opening bounce.
As the team got ready to head up the race and out onto the MCG, the cheer squad was dealing with a major disaster.
The blustery conditions inside the ground got the better of the Swans banner and tore it to shreds.
It meant the players ran out onto the ground as the cheersquad played cleaning crew to tidy up the mess of the destroyed banner.
7pm – No late changes to either team
Both teams will go in as named with Jesse Motlop named as the sub for the Blues with Robbie Fox the Swans’ sub.
6:30pm – Pies star sent straight to the Tribunal
It doesn’t affect tonight’s game but the big news out of the opening week of the finals is that Collingwood’s Brayden Maynard has been sent directly to the AFL Tribunal.
Maynard was sighted for a high shot on Melbourne’s Angus Brayshaw which resulted in the Demons player being left out cold on the ground.