ON A hot day at IKON Park, Carlton continued its outstanding VFL practice match form with a 25-point win over Williamstown.
After conceding the first four goals of the game, the Blues ultimately cracked the ton and emerged with a four-goal win on the back of impressive showings from the likes of Tom Williamson, Matthew Kennedy and Liam Stocker.
It was also a welcome return to action for Josh Honey, Mitch McGovern and Sam Philp, with McGovern's three-goal performance in limited game time the pick of the bunch.
Despite Carlton’s ascendancy at the centre bounce, it was Williamstown who got the game on its terms early, kicking the opening four goals of the game. It was up to Mitch McGovern to get the scoreboard ticking over from a Navy Blue point of view, kicking his - and Carlton’s - first of the game in his maiden opening hitout for the season. Lochie O’Brien was a reliable outlet for the Blues as he lined up across a wing, while VFL-listed Ed Delany had some crucial moments down back. The Blues got their offence going late in the quarter, with only inaccuracy thwarting them from closing the 15-point gap at quarter time.
The contest was as willing as the weather at IKON Park, with more than a fair share of heavy-hitting contests in all areas of the ground. Carlton’s AFL-listed players did the damage from a scoreboard viewpoint, with McGovern (two goals) joined by Matthew Kennedy and Oscar McDonald - who lined up as a forward before swapping ends at half time - as the goalkickers. David Cuningham began to get more involved as the quarter went along, while Sam Philp bobbed up at either end. The second-year Blue came from the ground at half time after getting through his game time unscathed. Under heavy Williamstown pressure, Carlton’s back line held up with the half-time deficit reduced to 13 points.
Carlton’s midfield got to work in the second half, and the results were there for all to see. The Blues piled on the first five goals of the quarter in the third, with McGovern as impactful as anyone on the ground. In the first five minutes, McGovern assisted Cuningham, before kicking his third after an O’Brien assist. It was from the centre bounce where the good work began, with Matthew Kennedy and Liam Stocker - who kicked a goal of his own - having a clear impact. Sam Ramsay’s impact on the game grew as the game wore on, while two quick goals for Josh Honey was just what the forward would’ve wanted in his first game of the season. After trailing for the entirety of the first half, the blistering third term saw the Blues open up a 19-point lead at the final change.
With Honey and McGovern also getting through their allotted match time unscathed, it was a testing final quarter for the Blues in hot conditions with limited rotations. Tom Williamson continued to stand up down back as the sole AFL-listed defender, while it was depth in numbers which was the most pleasing thing for the Blues from an attacking standpoint. As Williamstown threatened to get back into the contest, it was the midfielders who continued to keep the game on Carlton’s terms, with Stocker, Cuningham (two goals each) and O’Brien all kicking handy goals in the final term.
Three things from the game:
- It was a welcome return to action for Mitch McGovern. Playing his first game of any kind for the season, McGovern was a class above in the forward line as he completed his planned three quarters of game time. Finishing with three goals for the day, McGovern was a threat on the lead and in the air and brought his teammates into the game, particularly once the game opened up and the Blues got the game on their terms.
- Speaking of getting the game on their terms, it was the midfield where it all began. Carlton was slightly sluggish in the first half as Williamstown threatened to run away with it. From half time, however, it was the likes of Matthew Kennedy, Liam Stocker and Sam Ramsay who were either winning the ball or putting the heat on the Seagulls’ on-ball brigade. After the main break, it was 10 goals to four as the ball lived in Carlton’s forward half.
- It wasn’t quite the complete four-quarter performance, but the manner in which the Blues got their job done will please Daniel O’Keefe. After Williamstown got the early jump, defenders such as Tom Williamson and Cooper Stephens held down the fort with aplomb, while the Blues ultimately had nine individual goalkickers. With a fortnight remaining until the home-and-away season, there was plenty to like from plenty of players in Navy Blue.
CARLTON VFL 2.3 5.6 11.11 15.12 (102)
WILLIAMSTOWN 5.0 7.7 8.10 11.11 (77)
Carlton: McGovern 3, Cuningham 2, Honey 2, Owies 2, Stocker 2, Kennedy, McDonald, O’Brien, Wooller
Carlton: Williamson, Stocker, Cuningham, Stephens, O'Brien, Ramsay, Kennedy
Caleb Marchbank did not feature in Saturday's VFL practice match. He will look to get through training next week in order to play VFL next weekend.