WEST COAST has finished strongly at Optus Stadium to hand Carlton a 22-point defeat.
Carlton was the better side early and kicked out to a three-goal advantage, but a strong finish by the home side meant it was a missed opportunity for the Blues in the West.
Carlton went toe-to-toe with West Coast, matching them in an opening term full of momentum swings. The Eagles controlled possession early on and kicked the opening goal of the game, but a clever snap from the returning Zac Fisher saw the Blues hit the scoreboard. Will Setterfield and Sam Petrevski-Seton were damaging with their tackle pressure, and Carlton’s smalls got going: it ended in a classy goal to Sam Walsh as the Blues went into the opening change two points behind.
West Coast started strongly in the second quarter, kicking a goal within the first minute. The Blues responded from there, piling on forward pressure and locking the ball in their forward half. Liam Jones’ work in the one-on-one contest was vital, providing plenty of resistance to West Coast’s forward line. Clever work from Betts saw Fisher kick his second, which was quickly followed by the Western Australian’s third. With Jack Martin injured due to a calf injury, Patrick Cripps pushed forward and provided a strong target.
A fast starting Fisher kicked his fourth goal inside the 20 seconds of the quarter with the help of a Cripps centre clearance. De Koning performed strongly opposed to Nic Naitnaui, but the Blues couldn’t get reward for effort despite repeated entries and pressure in the forward half. It would soon prove costly, with West Coast - on the back of centre square dominance - kicking five goals in a row to overturn a 19-point deficit into an 11-point lead.
Carlton got the start it was after with a much-needed goal from Setterfield. However, West Coast’s class rose to the top, taking the game away from the Blues who struggled to keep their hands on the ball. The final three goals of the game saw the Eagles come away with a 22-point win.
Three things we learned:
1. Welcome back, Zac Fisher. Fisher hadn’t kicked multiple goals in a game before, but he overturned that record emphatically in his first game since Round 1. Kicking four highlight-worthy goals, Fisher showed exactly what he can offer and provided a forward spark the Blues desperately needed.
2. Will Setterfield is an important midfielder for the Blues. His tackling pressure, run-and-carry and ability to win contested ball has not gone unnoticed this season. He also snagged a very important goal to get the Blues back into the game to go with his seven tackles and five clearances.
3. Tests for ruckmen get much tougher than Nic Naitanui in full flight, but Tom De Koning showed plenty of promise against the Eagles star. With Marc Pittonet off the ground in the middle of the game, De Koning - who was in just his third senior game, and his first since 2018 - provided a contest in the air (10 hitouts) and at ground level (three tackles).
WEST COAST 2.2 3.3 8.4 11.6 (72)
CARLTON 2.0 5.4 6.5 7.8 (50)
Carlton: Fisher 4, Gibbons, Setterfield, Walsh
Carlton: Fisher, Jones, Setterfield, Cripps, Walsh