CARLTON has registered a victory in its first pre-season game under AFL Senior Coach Michael Voss.
Bursting out of the blocks with a high-energy first quarter, the Blues were pegged back and had to do it the hard way against a dogged St Kilda outfit, emerging with a seven-point victory.
Patrick Cripps led from the front in the win, while Matthew Owies and Jack Silvagni's forward pressure was evident in the 9.13 (67) to 8.12 (60) victory.
Cerra, Cripps and Hewett was the starting combination at the centre bounce, and it was the latter pair that got the ball moving for the opener. A Zac Williams inside 50 was met with outstanding forward pressure from Jack Silvagni, who kicked Carlton’s first - and then second - of the morning. It was that pressure which was the standout for the Blues early, with Matthew Owies and Corey Durdin buzzing around and recording a goal apiece. Marc Pittonet got the Blues going at the source, while the two Zacs - Fisher and Williams - were prolific in giving the Blues valuable forward territory.
It was a costly second quarter on the scoreboard for Carlton, who couldn’t convert on their forays forward as St Kilda well and truly worked its way back into the contest. The Blues could only muster five behinds going forward, with Kennedy and Durdin missing chances to add to their first-quarter majors. Adam Saad typically excited the Legends Stand crowd with his ability to get between the ball and man never more evident with a courageous back-with-the-flight spoil.
Once again kicking to the Legends Stand (which was very much the scoring end on Thursday), the Blues were back amongst the goals in a hurry. And there wasn’t a more popular goalkicker than Adam Cerra, who nailed his first from a set shot on his right foot before converting on the run with his left. After assisting Cerra’s first, Kemp - who spent his game up forward - got on the scoreboard when Saad turned provider. Alex Mirkov was activated into the game at the beginning of the term, taking on ruck duties from the impressive Marc Pittonet.
Coaches often say that the best kind of practice matches are the ones which allow preparation for a tense situation on the scoreboard, and that’s exactly what happened at IKON Park. With the Saints pressing, drawing within a point in the final 10 minutes, the Blues managed to settle and close out the game to emerge with a seven-point victory. Oscar McDonald, Mitch McGovern and Jacob Weitering had bright moments deep in defence when the Saints were pressing, while a holding-the-ball tackle and 50-metre penalty for Matthew Owies ensured Carlton would end the contest with a victory.
Three things we learned:
- It was no surprise who Carlton turned to at the centre bounce from the outset. Joining captain Patrick Cripps were recruits Adam Cerra and George Hewett, with all three enjoying positive moments. Cripps was prolific over the course of the game, while Hewett set the tone early at the contest. Cerra then got in on the act with a pair of third-quarter goals.
- The Blues have spoken all pre-season about how critical the pressure game would be for them this year, and the opening quarter in particular was testament to that. Carlton suffocated St Kilda for space inside the Blues’ attacking half, reaping the rewards with two goals coming directly from rundown tackles — the first from Jack Silvagni, and then from Matthew Owies 10 minutes later.
- It’s still only February, but the Blues will know the need to capitalise on their chances forward of centre. Without Coleman Medallist Harry McKay, the Blues still didn’t look short of avenues to goal, but they allowed St Kilda back into the game at critical times with costly misses in front of the big sticks. That was never more evident than the third term, when the Blues could only muster 0.5 as the Saints got back into the contest.
CARLTON. 5.3 5.8 8.12 9.13 (67)
ST KILDA 2.1 6.8 6.9 8.12 (60)
Carlton: Cerra 2, Owies 2, Silvagni 2, Durdin, Kemp, Kennedy