DESPITE some courageous marking efforts and a goal of the year candidate, Carlton Reserves fell short by 32 points to the Northern Bullants in Round 11.
After only being down by five points at half time, the Blues struggled to generate the run they needed and saw the game slip away from them as the Bullants registered their first win of the season.
Standout performances from Sam Ramsay (28 disposals) and Toby Wooller (three goals) wasn't enough as the Bullants were able to take control in the second half.
The loss sees Carlton sitting at three wins and four losses after seven games in the VFL season so far.
From the first bounce the Blues found themselves in hot contest with heavy tackles being laid all over the ground leading to a congested game. A pinpoint kick found Matt Cottrell 45 metres out from goal where he went back and slotted home the first goal for the day. Defender Tom Williamson did his best to stop the Bullants' relentless forward-half entries, with a number of brave spoils and contested efforts reducing the scoreboard impact. The majority of the first quarter was played between the arcs with both teams applying high tackle pressure. Carlton made full use of shallow forward entries, with Ed Delany and Ben Crocker both kicking truly from 45 meters out to give the Blues a seven-point lead at quarter time. In what was a heavily contested game the highlight of the quarter came from the AFL-listed Brodie Kemp who saved a certain Bullants' goal with a desperate tackle on the goal line.
The Blues were able to counteract some poor discipline at the start of the term when Young Blue Josh Honey combined with the in-form Toby Wooller to kick the team's first goal of the quarter. Similar to the first quarter, the game was very much a back-and-forth contest with neither team able to assert real dominance. James Parsons was able to place a neat chip kick which found Cody Hirst who converted, while co-captain Matt Shannon provided the result the Blues were desperately after repeat forward entries inside 50. The half was topped off by repeated courageous efforts as Josh Honey took a great mark going back with the flight, while Ryley Stoddart flew high to rise above the pack and hold onto the mark.
The Blues found themselves on the back foot with the Bullants launching into attack from the sound of the siren. Matthew Cottrell continued to work hard up-and-down the ground, with repeat efforts allowing the Blues to finally counter with their own attack. It was young Blue Corey Durdin who provided the highlight of the game, dancing around several tacklers while selling candy to get into open space where he would snap around the corner from 45 metres out to kick what would be the goal of the day. Unfortunately from a Blues perspective, costly turnovers through the middle of the ground saw the Bullants win the ball in dangerous positions and able to capitalise on the scoreboard. A late Wooller goal from a free kick saw the Blues within 23 points at the final change, but in need of a big lift at Preston City Oval.
The Northern Bullants continued their dominance to open the term and despite Carlton’s co-captains in Tom North and Matt Shannon doing their best to lift the team, the lead extended to 42 points. A late consolation goal from Ben Crocker meant he continued his streak of having kicked two or more goals in every game this season, while Wooller would kick his third for the day in what was a strong individual performance despite the 32-point loss.
Three things we learned:
- Throughout the season, key forward Toby Wooller has found himself having to pinch hit in the ruck. He was able to stay in his preferred position on Sunday afternoon and showed what he is capable of. Wooller finished the match with three goals to go along with five marks and provided the Blues with a lively target when leading out of the goal square.
- After missing last week as an AFL emergency, Sam Ramsay made a strong return to the side finishing with a game-high 28 disposals and four tackles. Ramsay was in all of the action, spending time in the middle of the ground while also featuring in a new role in the back half.
- Like he has all season, Stefan Radovanovic was a constant disrupter in the opposition's attacks. Time and time again, he would leave his man in order to take an intercept mark or impact the contest. The speedy defender was also the starting point for the Blues' attacks as he rebounded the ball out of defensive 50. Finishing the game with seven marks, it was another solid display from the young defender in his first season of VFL football.
Northern Bullants: 2.2 7.4 11.11 14.16 (100)
Carlton: 3.3 6.5 8.6 10.8 (68)
Carlton: Wooller 3, Crocker 2, Cottrell, Delany, Durdin, Hirst, Shannon
Carlton: Ramsay, Parsons, Cottrell, Radovanovic, Wooller, Stephens