Carlton beat Lions in NAB Cup decider - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Carlton beat Lions in NAB Cup decider

By Roger Vaughan 17/03/2007 10:08:30 PM Comments (0)

Carlton has capped an astonishing off-season by claiming the AFL NAB Cup title, beating Brisbane by 25 points.

The Blues have gone from utter turmoil to morale-boosting triumph in a matter of weeks, winning their second pre-season premiership in three seasons in the final at Telstra Dome by 2.12.7 (97) to 0.10.12 (72).

Carlton midfielder Nick Stevens won the Michael Tuck medal as best afield after collecting 26 possessions, while full-forward Brendan Fevola kicked four goals.

The Lions kicked three unanswered goals in the last term to reduce the margin to 18 points, but Fevola's fourth goal sealed the win.

A pro-Carlton crowd of 46,094 watched the Blues break clear in the third term to set up the win.

Pagan said his team had not set out to win the NAB Cup, but had gained plenty from the four games.

"We just wanted to provide as many opportunities and experiences as we could, physically it's probably worth eight to 10 games to some of our young players," he said.

"There have been a lot of dark, gloomy times at Carlton (recently), but just to see that happen tonight... it's a very positive result."

But Pagan was also confident there would be no repeat of '05, when his side only won four games in the regular season after taking out the pre-season title.

"We're not getting in front of ourselves, I know our players have already met as a group (after the game) and what they want to do, we couldn't be more pleased with how they're going about it," he said.

The clash was notable for the return of Lions key forward Jonathan Brown, out since round 10 last year because of injury.

He was well off his best, but finished with two goals and 11 marks.

Simon Black and Cheynee Stiller were best for the Lions.

Reaching the grand final represented a major morale boost for the Lions, who finished 13th last season.

Despite the loss, Lions coach Leigh Matthews was pleased with how his team had performed through the pre-season.

"It has been a productive pre-season campaign, there are a lot of players who feel better about themselves than they would have a month ago," Matthews said.

One worry for Matthews is Tim Notting, who dislocated his shoulder after colliding heavily with Carlton youngster Marc Murphy in a marking contest. The Lions will learn in the next few days how many weeks he will miss.

Brisbane ruckman Cameron Wood is also on report for striking opponent Cain Ackland at the start of the third term.

In the incident where Notting was injured, Brisbane's Ben Fixter was also booked for charging Murphy.

Carlton looked in trouble when they trailed by 14 points just before halftime, but a goal to Anthony Koutoufides meant they went into the main break with a seven-point deficit.

That was the start of a seven-goal streak for the Blues as they took a commanding 30-point lead 18 minutes into the third quarter.

At the opening bounce of the third term, Brisbane ruckman Cameron Wood was reported and a 50m penalty was given to Blues rover Andrew Carrazzo.

The resulting super goal to Carrazzo gave his side a two-point lead and suddenly the momentum was with the Blues.

Earlier, Carlton took a 10-point lead into quarter-time after a super goal and a goal within a minute to Brad Fisher.

Lions defender Jared Brennan gave away a 50m penalty, giving Fisher the super goal, and the Carlton forward then took a great mark over Brennan for the six-pointer.

After a quiet start, Brown started to break a double-team from Setanta O'hAilpin and Andrew Walker in the second term as the Lions midfield took control.

Brisbane kicked four goals to two in the second quarter and could have put more pressure on the Blues with better accuracy.

It was the second time Stevens won the Michael Tuck Medal, having also received the honour in 2002 while playing for Port Adelaide. It was also his fourth pre-season premiership.

Carlton's win was far removed from the end of last season, when the Blues board botched a review of the football department after the club claimed its third wooden spoon in five years.

Coach Denis Pagan eventually kept his job after a series of embarrassing boardroom leaks had indicated he was all but gone.

Then, Fevola was kicked off the international rules tour of Ireland after an off-field incident.

A messy board election further hurt the struggling club, with president Graham Smorgon voted out of his position.

But last month, billionaire businessman and life-long Blues fan Richard Pratt agreed to become the new president.

It was a telling morale boost to the club, to say nothing of the financial help Pratt brought with him.

Pagan described it as if a light had been turned on at the club.

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