THE Carlton Reserves finally returned to action and did so in style, running out 49-point winners over Sandringham.
Mitch McGovern performed strongly in his return bout, while strong performances from Sam Petrevski-Seton (30 disposals, one goal), James Parsons (28 disposals) and Ben Crocker (four goals) capped off an all-round great weekend for Carlton.
The win sees the Blues go to 4-5 for the season, meaning the chance to keep their season alive is still very much in the picture.
Kicking with the breeze in the first quarter, it was vital for the Blues to get off to a strong start which is exactly what they did. From the first bounce, Carlton controlled possession for the term, leading to multiple entries into the forward 50. In his first game back from injury, Mitch McGovern was able to steer home the first set shot of the day, while Ben Crocker was also able to convert his own soon after. The Blues’ high-pressure game was being rewarded as multiple turnovers on the half-forward line led to several shots on goal, which Petrevski-Seton and Crocker converted. Although the scoreboard would indicate that it was all attack, Carlton’s defence was holding up well and by pressing high up the ground, it meant the ball rarely went into Sandringham’s half, allowing for multiple re-entries in the 50. The Blues well and truly dominated proceedings and could have led by even more at the first change six goals to none for the term to opened up a 42-point lead.
With the breeze still going strong, the second quarter was going to be more about Carlton maintaining the lead rather than adding to it. The first five minutes really tested the backline as the Zebras were able to keep the ball inside their attacking half, however the Blues – spearheaded by Brodie Kemp and Luke Parks in defence - stood tall and were able to keep calm despite the immense pressure. Petrevski-Seton continued his strong start to the game where he was able to disrupt the opposition on the defence and create turnovers, while also having his hand in multiple attacks. Carlton’s strong tackling game meant that Sandringham were having trouble generating their offence: however, going against the breeze meant there was only so much Carlton could do. After kicking five goals for the quarter, the Zebras were able to close the deficit down to 14 points at the main break. The Blues weren’t without their chances, and despite the conditions had only four less inside 50s than the Zebras: however, four behinds for the quarter meant it was game on.
Knowing that this was going to be Carlton’s last quarter going with the wind, the Blues wasted no time in launching their attack. While there were multiple re-entries into the forward 50, the Blues struggled to capitalise, despite the best efforts of a determined Matthew Cottrell. After multiple stoppages, McGovern - who played a combination of forward, second ruck and behind the ball - was able to capitalise and draw a free kick from the ruck contest where he slotted a routine set shot. Quickly after, Crocker was able to cut off a chip kick to take an intercept mark 30 metres out from goal where he too would convert. Having now taken full control of the quarter, the Blues weren’t going to let their dominance go to waste. Fill-in Essendon ruckman Andrew Phillips enjoyed his return in his old colours, adding two more goals, while recent list addition David Handley also chipped in with his first goal for the Club in his second game. After kicking five goals and 10 behinds for the quarter, Carlton opened up a 49-point lead: a healthy margin, but not one that was completely safe given the conditions.
The final quarter couldn’t have started off better for Carlton, as it took control of possession and took the game to the hosts instead of sitting back on the lead. With the likes of Sam Ramsay and VFL-listed Cooper Stephens intercepting well, the Blues could get their offence going. Toby Wooller was able to mark the ball 40 metres out on a slight angle where, like he has all season, he would go back and calmly convert the set shot. Despite the breeze, the ball was living inside the Blues’ 50, with their forward pressure making life difficult for Sandringham. McGovern controlled the airways playing behind the ball, setting up Tom North out the back for an easy goal. Soon after, Crocker took a nice contested mark inside the goal square which led to his fourth goal for the day. The Zebras were able to peg back two more goals, however the Blues took control of possession to see out the game and to walk away 49-point winners.
- Sam Petrevski-Seton was a standout for the Blues today, responding well in his return to the VFL side. Working hard around the ground, he would rack up 30 disposals and five inside 50s to go along with a first-quarter goal. It was his off-the-ball work that stood out, with the midfielder constantly around the play and making life difficult for Sandringham players. His presence around the ground was a key factor in the victory, and something Petrevski-Seton will look to continue to close out the season.
- After returning from a long layoff due to injury, Mitch McGovern was put to the test as he seemingly played every position possible. Starting off strongly in the forward line by kicking the first goal of the game, McGovern was also pinch-hitting in the ruck and able to neutralise the contest, despite being significantly undersized. His competitiveness was rewarded with a free kick in the third term which gave him his second goal for the day. When the Blues were kicking into the breeze, McGovern often swapped with Toby Wooller in being stationed behind the ball, where he continued to be involved by taking several intercept marks.
- After a couple of quieter games by his normal standards before the competition’s layoff, Ben Crocker resumed normal service where he would kick four goals: three of which came from set shots. Spending most of the game in the forward 50, Crocker made sure that any exit attempt made by Sandringham was under duress, which more often than not led to a turnover and another scoring opportunity for the Blues. Despite playing as an undersized key forward, Crocker made sure he was still an aerial threat, finishing with a game-high eight marks.
SANDRINGHAM 0.1 5.3 6.3 9.6 (60)
CARLTON VFL 6.7 6.12 11.22 14.25 (109)
Carlton: Crocker 4, Phillips 3, McGovern 2, Handley, North, Petrevski-Seton, Stephens, Wooller
Carlton: Parsons, McGovern, Petrevski-Seton, Handley, Fogarty, Ramsay
Thomas Dev is a student at La Trobe University, undergoing his Bachelor of Media and Communications (Sports Journalism). He is currently undertaking an internship at the Carlton Football Club as part of its partnership with La Trobe University.