CARLTON needed to tick a box on Saturday night's trip to the Gold Coast, and they did just that.
An arm wrestle of a game ended with an 11-point Carlton win, with the Blues evening the ledger after four games following a disappointing opening fortnight.
So, how did it all happen?
Flick the switch
Whatever David Teague said at three-quarter time must have worked.
For those tuning into the game late on Saturday night, the graphics from Channel 7 told the tale. At the final change, the difference was one point on the scoreboard, while disposals and contested possessions were dead even.
Come the 22-minute mark of the last quarter, the Blues had broken through and were destined to get the result they were after.
In that time period, the Blues had +17 contested possessions, paving the way for an inside 50 count which read 14-2 and 80 per cent time in their forward half.
It wasn’t the prettiest game of football, but the Blues headed to Metricon Stadium to get the job done and that’s exactly what they did: their start to the last quarter played a big part in making that happen.
Competitiveness, toughness, adaptability. ??— Carlton FC (@CarltonFC) April 11, 2021
See what David Teague had to say on last night's win against the Suns. ??
A Jack of all trades
Speaking of getting the job done, there’s an unassuming Blue who’s doing exactly that.
While Jack Silvagni was the hero in the lead-up to Harry McKay’s sealer, it was his namesake who added another impressive performance to his 2021 CV.
The only thing missing from Jack Newnes’ showing on the weekend was a goal, with the experienced midfielder amassing another 22 disposals on the weekend (which also happens to be his average for the season).
What will please his coaching staff is how he’s finding the football and what he’s doing with it.
Among other midfielders in the competition, Newnes is ranked elite for both intercept possessions and score involvements. He’s making an impact in both the offensive and defensive modes of the game.
Finding different avenues
While Harry McKay’s 15 goals from four rounds may suggest that the Blues are becoming overly reliant on the big man, the numbers show anything but.
McKay added another two goals to his name on the weekend, putting a quiet first half behind him to hit the scoreboard at crucial times in the second half.
As someone who has always vouched for strength in numbers, David Teague is getting exactly that in front of goal.
From their nine goals on the weekend, the Blues recorded another seven individual goalkickers. In total, 18 different Blues have hit the scoreboard in a meaningful way in 2021: the most of any team in the competition.
Putting up the wall
The influence of Carlton’s defensive mix was well-noted in the aftermath of Saturday, so let’s take the time to focus on four players.
A key component of the Blues’ ability to lock the ball in their forward half was the intercepting performances of Liam Jones, Sam Petrevski-Seton, Adam Saad and Jacob Weitering. That quartet alone contributed 45 intercepts on Saturday night.
After four games, Jones ranks first in the AFL for intercept marks (22) and third in the AFL for intercept possessions (43).
Meanwhile, his good mate in Weitering has continued his exemplary form from last year: he has recorded more one percenters than anyone else in the competition, while he was unbeaten in nine defensive one-on-ones.
Then there’s the case of Petrevski-Seton and Saad, who both rank as elite among general defenders for both score involvements and intercept possessions. Saad is yet to have less than 20 disposals in four games in Navy Blue.
The trend continues
There was a good omen heading into the weekend from a Navy Blue perspective.
With Metricon Stadium largely becoming Carlton’s home away from home in 2020, the Club’s recent record at the Gold Coast ground suggested a win was coming for the Blues.
In its last seven games at the venue (Saturday night’s game being the seventh), Carlton’s form at Carrara has read win, loss, win, loss, win, loss, win.
In doing so, the Blues recorded their third straight victory over the Suns. In the brief history between these two teams, that has only happened once before, with Carlton recording a trifecta of consecutive wins against Gold Coast between 2013 and 2015.