Welcome to life on Mean St in a tagging role, Adam McPhee
ADAM McPhee is a man of fashion, so it was no surprise he was spotted wandering down Chapel St yesterday afternoon.
But a few hours later, he found himself at a far less glamourous destination.
Welcome to a new life on Mean St.
McPhee, Fremantle’s big-name off-season recruit, has been re-cast as a stodgy tagger.
And his opponent was the mighty Chris Judd, the Carlton skipper in the midst of his best season with the club.
McPhee followed the great one everywhere, including the interchange bench, and it was an inspired move by Dockers coach Mark Harvey.
Judd had a more than respectable 30 disposals, but 10 of those were ineffective.
With McPhee niggling and harrassing all night long, and proving he has the engine to go with the best, Judd did not inflict his usual pain.
Most of Judd’s work came in close, firing handballs into space, and rarely hurt the Dockers on the burst.
He kicked it only nine times and only three of those were long.
It was a massive win for the visitors. With Marc Murphy out of the side with hamstring tightness, the Blues were over-reliant on the skipper could not produce miracles.
In some ways, this is McPhee’s Tony Liberatore moment.
It seems the message is clear: Swallow your pride and lock down on somebody to save your spot.
His start to the year in more attacking role was poor and he was lucky to hold his place in the side.
If he had have been Joe Average, without the profile, McPhee could have been stranded in the WAFL.
But the revival started at Subiaco a week earlier when he shut out Lenny Hayes and blossomed further last night.
The move summed up the newfound maturity of the Dockers. They have versatility and options and every man is content to play his role.
Matthew Pavlich, the Dockers’ Judd equivalent, only had 21 disposals and was reasonably subdued, but the Dockers just found a way.
In the past, if you locked out “Pav”, particulary in Melbourne, you locked out Fremantle. Last night, there were selfless contributors everywhere, from McPhee down.
Carlton only lost by nine points, but never seriously looked like winning in the final term.
The Blues came home hard late, but were four to five goals down for the bulk of the game.
It was fitting that a towering contested mark to Aaron Sandilands on the outer wing snuffed out the Blues with less than 90 seconds left.
For while McPhee played a key low-profile role, Sandilands was as high profile as you can get.
Carlton’s No.1 ruckman Matthew Kreuzer left the ground with a left knee injury in the first term, leaving Sam Jacobs as the only man left to seriously challenge the Fremantle giant.
Predictably, Sandilands had a picnic. He had 49 hitouts, 19 disposals and kicked a goal.
Once Kreuzer went down, it was always going to be tough.
Studies show your chances of winning decrease significantly once you lose a player early. You can double that when a ruckman goes down.
Fremantle were able to rotate more often, leading the interchange count 128 to 106, and were at a significant advantage.
The Blues had two ruckmen, Shaun Hampson and Robbie Warnock, fit but in the stands.
It will only rekindle the argument for two “subs”, giving teams the capability of replacing seriously injured players.
McPhee, the quiet hero, was in no need of a sub by the end – only a rest.
And you could not begrudge him heading back to Chapel St again last night, this time with a celebratory drink in hand.