THE Carlton Reserves moved into the top four with after a thrilling win over Geelong that went right down to the wire.

The Blues kicked the opening five goals of the match before losing their lead in the last quarter, only to snatch it back at the death.

Mitch McGovern and Marc Pittonet both made successful returns to action, while Will Setterfield was best afield with 40 disposals and eight marks.

Quarter one 

For the first half of the quarter, it was a physical battle between the two sides, with only one point scored to the 15 minute-mark of the term. Ned Cahill broke the deadlock to find the opening goal of the match for the second week running: some great pressure inside forward 50 was rewarded with a holding-the-ball-free and he slotted the set shot from directly in front. The Blues then found their mojo: Lochie O’Brien nailed a goal from 35 metres out in what was a terrific opening quarter from the Blues’ No.4. He collected 11 disposals, took four marks and had two inside 50s to set the tone early for the Blues. Cahill kicked his a second with a long snap and Jesse Glass-McCasker slotted the Blues’ fourth just before the quarter-time siren to give Carlton a nice buffer at the first change. The Blues were left to do the job without Ed Curnow, who came from the ground injured in the first ter and didn’t return.

Quarter two 

Defender-turned-forward Domanic Akuei found the ball out the back and strolled into an open goal to make it five goals to zip at the start of the second term in favour of the Blues. However, this was where Geelong found their way back into the contest: the Cats pegged back three goals in the remainder of the quarter as the Blues failed to do any scoreboard damage. It wasn’t due to winning the ball at the source: Carlton was dominant around the stoppages, leading the clearance count by over 10 at half time. Marc Pittonet was a big reason for that dominance in his first half back since injuring his knee in Round 6 of the AFL, getting to plenty of ruck contests and amassing five clearances himself.

Quarter three 

The Cats made it five in a row after a slow start to the second half for the Blues and the margin was back within a kick. Ben Crocker ended a run of six behinds in a row from Carlton to kick the team’s first major in 42 minutes of football and extend the margin back to beyond a goal in the process. Geelong had the game on its terms though, answering Carlton’s major and making a surge for the lead. A crucial Mitch McGovern intercept mark was enough to hold the Blues’ minor advantage just before the three-quarter-time siren. Setterfield continued to be a crucial cog of Carlton’s on-ball brigade in the third term, gathering 10 disposals and working hard between the arcs.  

Quarter four 

The Cats found the opening goal of the last term to hit the front for the first time since the 15-minute mark of the first quarter. When the Cats kicked their third in a row to take an eight-point lead, it looked as though the game was getting away from the Blues, but they still had plenty of fight left in them. Even after Tom North’s goal was answered by Geelong, Carlton didn’t stop surging. When Ollie Sanders brought the margin back to one point at the 20-minute mark of the term, it was time to swing Mitch McGovern forward. And didn’t it pay off: Cahill heaved the ball to the top of the goal square where McGovern, playing in front, got to the drop of the ball first and took the most important mark of the day. He slotted the goal and Glass-McCasker found a sealer a few minutes later as the Blues claimed an incredibly valuable victory.

Three things we learned:

1. Returning Blues Marc Pittonet and Mitch McGovern were both very important in the win over the Cats. Pittonet racked up nine clearances, 15 disposals and 22 hitouts and covered the ground well, while McGovern got better as the game went on and finished with 17 disposals, four marks and one match-winning goal.

2. The victory was absolutely crucial for the Blues’ finals hopes. A loss would’ve put Carlton in danger of falling outside the top eight, but they now sit inside the top four and should stay there by the end of the round.

3. It’s the second time in as many weeks the Blues have found a second wind in the last quarter to finish the game. Last week they just fell short of a 34-point comeback victory, but on Saturday, four of the last five goals of the match was enough to grab the win.

CARLTON RESERVES       4.1     5.4     6.8    10.10 (70)
GEELONG CATS                0.1     3.4     6.4    9.5 (59)

Carlton Reserves: Cahill 2, Glass-McCasker 2, Akuei, Crocker, McGovern, North, O'Brien, Sanders

Carlton Reserves: Setterfield, Dow, Pittonet, Fogarty, Handley, Maher, Leiu, Mirkov

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.