THERE was plenty to love about Carlton's VFL practice match win over Richmond on Thursday.
With the 2021 VFL season just under a month away, the game provided the Blues with an important opportunity to tighten up their game plan and find the right mix before the season commences.
VFL coach Daniel O’Keefe was pleased with the entire output of the Blues, who fought off a comeback from the Tigers to finish with a confidence-boosting 28-point win.
With little surprise, the AFL-listed Zac Williams was a class above the rest on Thursday afternoon, using his trademark run and ball-winning ability to have a significant impact on the day.
Williams played a role across the ground, with his versatility and willingness to play his role something O’Keefe saw as a real learning point for his teammates.
“It was a luxury having Zac Williams in our side and by that I mean there were players - both from the AFL and VFL - who could learn from him,” O’Keefe said.
“He was excellent in and around traffic, he was clean, he was able to just get the ball forward when we needed it. He certainly helped us throughout the whole day.”
2021 draftee Jack Carroll was another AFL Blue who had an impact against the Tigers.
In a promising display, the West Australian showed great composure in the midfield, while he was also able to surge forward to have a shot on goal and set up Eddie Betts in the early stages of the game.
“Jack is showing lots of promise. When Jack gets up and around the contest he is quite classy, he’s clean and looks to go forward with it. His lateral movement through congestion is hard to defend,” O’Keefe said.
“Jack - like any first-year player early in the season - still has growth left in regards to our setups and balance around stoppages, but his ability to learn is great.”
The VFL-listed Toby Wooller was another standout in the win, with the former Lion having to change his role after ruck Aaron Gundry suffered an injury during the game.
Wooller’s contest and workrate was the difference when Richmond began to gain momentum, with O’Keefe extremely proud of his ability to use his own strength in what was otherwise a mismatched contest.
“We didn’t necessarily expect him to win hitouts against the Tigers' four bigs, but what he gave us the other way was exceptional," O’Keefe said.
"Because he is as fit as a fiddle, he worked hard away from stoppages and challenged the opposition ruck.
"We used him a lot around the ground on the back of that and he had some serious impact, especially in the last quarter when the game was there to be won."
Zac Williams, Jack Carroll, Matthew Kennedy, Matthew Cottrell, Eddie Betts, Toby Wooller, Ryley Stoddart and Ed Delany