THE Carlton Reserves have moved back into the top four after a four-point win in Round 14 of the VFL.

The Blues survived a barrage of late Coburg attacks and managed to hold on to record their eighth win of the campaign

Paddy Dow was herculean in midfield collecting 34 disposals and slotting a vital goal while Liam Stocker was crucial down back with 28 touches and 10 marks.

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VFL R14 | All Carlton highlights v Coburg

Look back on the best work from the Carlton Reserves in their Round 14 VFL win over Coburg.

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Quarter one 

The Lions nailed the opening goal of the game but it wasn’t long before the Blues responded, and in style. Carlton recorded the next 11 inside 50s of the match and were rewarded on the scoreboard: goals to Jesse Glass-McCasker, debutant Oliver Sanders and Ned Cahill in quick succession gave the Blues a handy advantage. The game then turned into an arm wrestle for the remainder of the quarter, with both sides missing opportunities: that was until Ben Crocker struck for the Blues after the siren to extend the margin to 17 points at the first change. Liam Stocker was a brick wall behind the footy for the Blues in the opening term, collecting 10 disposals and taking five marks down back.

Quarter two 

Coburg kicked the first goal of the quarter again, only this time there wasn’t an immediate response from Carlton. The Lions then brought the margin back to three points and with all the momentum were seemingly set to take the lead. However, the Blues found a steadying major just when they needed to: Zavier Maher went on a bursting run and found Will Hayes over the back of the Coburg defence who kicked the easiest of goals from 15 metres out. Despite the quarter not going the Blues’ way on the scoreboard, the clearance count was certainly not the issue. Paddy Dow and Jack Carroll had the same number of clearances as Coburg between them, with the overall total 24 to nine Carlton’s way.

Quarter three 

It was the Blues’ turn to start the better of the two sides in the third: Crocker became the first multiple goal scorer of the night with a set shot from 40 metres. A Coburg major was then answered by Carlton with six behinds as the wayward Blues attempted to put a gap between themselves and the Lions. The term petered out with neither team able to take a strangle hold of the contest. Patrick Dozzi was a shining light for the Blues in the third quarter, collecting eight disposals in just his second game for Carlton this season.

Quarter four 

The first two goals of the last quarter went to Coburg and the margin was back to a solitary point. It took some Paddy Dow magic to find the Blues’ first goal in over 40 minutes of football: he brought down a high kick to a one-on-one contest, gathered the loose ball and found a way through multiple defenders to slam through a 45-metre drop punt that sailed over the goal umpire’s head. The Lions would come again and make sure this contest went right down to the wire. There was under a goal between the two sides for the last 12 minutes of the game, with the Blues’ defence holding out a late Coburg surge to claim a valuable victory.

Three things we learned:

1. It was as gritty a win as possible for the Blues. With Will Setterfield subbed into the game at AFL level and Sam Philp coming from the ground injured in the first term, the Blues ultimately finished the contest with just one on the bench. The way the undermanned Blues were able to grind out a result would’ve pleased Daniel O’Keefe.

2. Will Hayes continues to put in standout performances for the Carlton Reserves: the mid-season draftee collected 25 disposals, took nine marks and kicked a goal. That’s three weeks of strong form from Hayes since returning from injury.

3. It was another thrilling finish at IKON Park, something the Blues have become accustomed to this season. It’s the fifth time in six matches that the game has been decided by a single-figure margin: the Blues have now won two of them.

CARLTON RESERVES       4.2     5.4     6.10     7.13 (55)
COBURG LIONS               1.3     3.7     4.9    7.9 (51)

GOALS
Carlton Reserves: Crocker 2, Cahill, Dow, Glass-McCasker, Hayes, Sanders

BEST
Carlton Reserves: Dow, Stocker, Crocker, Mirkov, Glass-McCasker, Trudgeon

Tarquin Oakley is a student at La Trobe University, undergoing his Bachelor of Media and Communications (Sports Journalism). He is currently undertaking an internship at the Carlton Football Club as part of its partnership with La Trobe University.