AN INSPIRED final quarter wasn’t enough for Carlton in its Round 4 VFL clash with Footscray.
After trailing by 30 points at the last change, a stunning burst in the opening stages saw the Blues draw level.
However, a late flurry from the Dogs resigned the Blues to a three-goal defeat, going 2-2 after four rounds.
With the breeze at the home side’s backs in the opening term, the Blues did well to hold on and quell the damage despite the Dogs owning the forward territory. Tom Williamson had the match-up on Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, with the rebounding defender playing above his size in a side short on size in defence. Despite the Bulldogs kicking goals through Ugle-Hagan and Cody Weightman, the Blues had their fair share of forward forays but were unable to capitalise on the scoreboard. Ben Crocker loomed as forward threat but conversion in front of goal proved tricky with the wind swirling. Paddy Dow and Will Setterfield combined well in the middle of the ground, sharing 17 disposals between them.
After a goalless opening term, Carlton looked well-placed to stamp its authority on the contest when Corey Durdin released Josh Honey for the team’s first goal of the day. Both teams lost a tall forward outlet when Toby Wooller was taken out of the game due to a back injury, while Ugle-Hagan was withdrawn with concussion. It was a costly back-end to the term from a Carlton perspective, with the Dogs piling on three goals after what was an arm wrestle of a second term. Durdin’s forward pressure was a highlight as the Blues struggled to get out of Footscray’s forward grasp.
Heading into the second half with a four-goal deficit, the Blues were on the front foot early, but a trio of misses to James Parsons and a set shot from Durdin which hit the post didn’t go their way. It was left to Matthew Kennedy to do the damage on the scoreboard, kicking truly into a tricky breeze after Paddy Dow showed some customary burst on the wing to set him up. As the Blues looked to take the game to the Dogs aggressively, it was crucial that the likes of Nic Newman - who returned to the field after a brief elbow injury scare - and Stefan Radovanovic to defend with speed behind the ball. It looked as though the Blues would hold sway for the quarter, but a late Josh Schache goal meant it was a five-goal deficit at the final change.
Carlton has shown throughout the VFL season so far that when the team is on, it can score quickly: that was never more evident than the opening stages of the final term. It was almost out of the blue that from five goals down, the Blues had drawn level with the Dogs, on the back of blistering attacking play which started from a centre-bounce ascendancy. As has been the case all year, Ben Crocker was the man in attack for the Blues, kicking four goals in the final quarter alone. However, a free kick from a ruck contest close to Footscray’s goal was exactly what Carlton didn’t need, with Schache kicking truly to reinstate the home side’s lead. With the Blues pressing to try and win the game, two late goals on the counter attack saw Footscray come away with a three-goal win.
Three things we learned:
1. Sunday afternoon at Whitten Oval was the best example yet of why Carlton’s recruiting team was so keen to welcome Corey Durdin to the Club in last year’s NAB AFL Draft. After an interrupted start to the campaign due to comeback from injury, Durdin was as energetic as lively as he’s been since pulling on the Navy Blue jumper in the VFL. He provided Josh Honey with the assist for Carlton’s first goal of the day, but it was his game-high seven tackles which stood out from the small forward.
2. Once Carlton got its bearings in front of goal, it looked like no team in the competition could go with them. Footscray was undefeated heading into today’s game, but the home side had no answers for the Blues’ blistering start to the final quarter which saw them quickly erase a five-goal deficit. The Blues’ ability to get speed on the ball from a stoppage situation and wreak havoc when the ball hit the ground in attack was electric in the final term.
3. While five AFL-listed players topped the disposal count for the Blues, there’s no denying the impact of their VFL-listed recruits — particularly when they were absent. The Blues missed the output of Toby Wooller in the second half, who had been one of Carlton’s most impressive in the season’s opening month. With Wooller down, the Blues were left without an extra marking option in attack, which they eventually fought through after struggling throughout the middle two quarters.
FOOTSCRAY 2.2 5.6 7.10 11.11 (77)
CARLTON 0.4 1.6 2.10 8.11 (59)
Carlton: Crocker 4, Honey 2, Kennedy, Parsons
Carlton: Radovanovic, Durdin, Honey, Willliamson, Newman, De Koning