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Phillips unscathed in return

Murphy on win and determination Marc Murphy spoke to the media at Ikon Park this morning following yesterday's win against Essendon.

Carlton ruckman Andrew Phillips made a successful return from injury in Saturday’s VFL season opener for the Northern Blues.

Getting through his allotted three quarters of game-time, Phillips battled manfully in the ruck while spending time up forward.

It was his first game since recovering from a foot injury which kept him out of action for a significant portion of pre-season.

He went on to finish with 10 disposals, five marks and 20 hitouts as the Blues went down by 29 points to Port Melbourne.

“It was good to get back out on the park, I was a bit restricted with game-time but I felt good out there,” Phillips said post-match.

“I was always going to be rusty after so long out. I had a decent chunk of pre-season but I was still pretty gassed out quite early.”

Senior coach Josh Fraser was full of praise the way the returning big man handled himself and worked into the contest.

“‘Flip’ (Phillips) performed really well when he was on the ground, he got through the three quarters and had an impact in conjunction with Matthew Korcheck,” Fraser said.

“He’s an exciting talent and has worked really hard to get back to this point. I’m sure he’s going to play some great football for us.”

Despite Northern being right in the contest across a number of areas, an inability to capitalise when going forward ultimately proved to be the difference on the day.

Phillips said while the Blues had time to rectify the inconsistencies in their game, they were disappointed not to get 2017 off to a winning start.

“It was a pretty good game overall. It was a hot contest early being Round 1 but there was nothing unexpected in what they did,” Phillips said.

“There was a lack of compliance on our behalf and something we need to tidy up on but overall we stuck in right until the end. I think we had the legs but in the end we ran out of time.”

Northern will head to Etihad Stadium this weekend for an exhibition match against the AFL National Academy, as a curtain raiser to the Carlton-Gold Coast game.

Phillips said that despite it not being a home-and-away fixture, the game still presented the Blues with a valuable opportunity ahead of the resumption of their VFL season in a fortnight.

“It’s still a game even if’s not for points, there are still things we need to get right and learn from this game, and we’ve got an opportunity to do that ahead of Round 2.”