By Tyler Lewis
Regardless of the actual result, it was a win for Casey-South Melbourne.
Coming from 15th to play in its first grand final in over three decades, and winning as many games in succession in the latter half of the year as Casey-South Melbourne has ever won in a season – the season as a whole, is a win.
The Swans were up to their eye balls in the grand final against a seasoned Carlton outfit, having the Blues 4/66 after taking a quick 3/6.
But the experienced Blues side ultimately steered back on track, reeling in the Swans revised 203 with four wickets to spare.
First year coach Will Carr had the toughest task as a coach: addressing his players after grand final defeat.
But like most, he insists his players will appreciate the season once the pain of the loss fades.
“As much as the disappointment of losing a grand final hurts – and it should hurt, it needs to hurt – the guys have put so much time and effort into something and to come so close, it is going to hurt, but hopefully that will drive us as a group to go again,” he said.
“Once the dust settles and they have a bit of time to reflect, they should be extremely proud of what they have achieved.
“Not only to make the grand final, but to play off in the semi in the twenty-20 (SuperSlam), there has been good stories within the group. Ash (Chandrasinghe) has played Second XI cricket, Ruwy (Kellapotha) has played Second XI cricket.
“We have three young guys representing the under-19’s in the (Victorian) carnival that starts later this week.
“The development and growth as people has been there for all to see, there is so much more than just the result on Saturday.”
The Swans were almost guided to victory from a sensational spell of bowling from Jackson Fry.
Often labelled by Carr as ‘the unluckiest bowler I have seen’, he was once again proud of his left-armer.
“It has been great for him in the second half of the year to get some reward for his efforts,” Carr said.
“He doesn’t get the choice of ends, he generally bowls into it (the wind), he toils away, you know he walks away a few times disappointed with not getting the results for how well he has bowled.
“But he keeps backing up and charging in for us, in recent times he has been getting some rewards.
“He wears his heart on his sleeve and brings the boys along with him, he never drops his head, he possesses so many qualities that we love about him and it resonates through the group.”
While the paint of the Albert Ground crease is still yet to fade, there is already a burning question ahead of the Swans for season 2022/23.
Is this the expectation now?
“I think it’s the minimum,” Carr said.
“We don’t set the standards, the competition does and now we have had a new look at the top, we know what the minimum expectations are.
“For us to keep going forward we need to keep raising the bar.”
CARLTON V CASEY-SOUTH MELBOURNE
A Chandrasinghe c & b Smyth 25 (58)
L Manders c Lemire b O’Sullivan 63 (103)
M Wallace c Harvey b Crone 14 (25)
H Kannan run out (Stevenson, Lemire) 16 (18)
D Pollock b O’Sullivan 17 (27)
L Shelton not out 32 (35)
R Kellapotha b Gulbis 22 (18)
L Sperling c McKenna b Gulbis 3 (7)
D Webb b Gulbis 2 (2)
N Lambden c Stevenson b Gulbis 0 (1)
J Fry not out 0 (0)
Extras: (w3, b1, lb2) 6
Total (revised): (49 overs) 9/200
Fall of wicket: 56, 85, 106, 133, 146, 181, 193, 198, 198
Bowling: C Stevenson 5-0-1-25, E Gulbis 10-2-3-35, C Rutland 5-1-0-19, T Smyth 9-0-1-44, X Crone 10-1-0-42, E O’Sullivan 10-1-3-32
E Gulbis c Pollock b Fry 28 (25)
M Harvey b Fry 5 (12)
B Stepien c Shelton b Sperling 51 (72)
H Smyth c Pollock b Fry 0 (2)
N Ross c Kellapotha b Fry 0 (4)
T Smyth not out 52 (101)
C Rutland c Sperling b Kellapotha 45 (56)
X Crone not out 18 (9)
Extras: (w3, b1, lb2) 6
Total: (46.5 overs) 6/205
Fall of wicket: 18, 60, 66, 66, 110, 185
Bowling: N Lambden 8-0-0-51, J Fry 10-3-4-28, D Web 1.5-0-0-25, R Kellapotha 10-0-1-34, L Shelton 10-0-0-30, L Sperling 7-0-1-34
JOHN SCHOLES MEDAL WINNER: T Smyth (Carlton)