The Carlton Blues bounced back from two consecutive losses to record a thumping victory against the West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium. The match was never in doubt after half time, as Carlton held ascendancy across the field and dominated on the ball. Charlie Curnow had a day out for Carlton booting nine goals and setting up several others. Patrick Cripps was powerful in the middle for Carlton, gaining 33 possessions (22 of which were contested possessions) and laying eight tackles. The Eagles tried hard in the opening quarter and pushed Carlton in the second quarter. However the home team became spectators for the rest of the match as the relentless Carlton powered to a percentage-boosting victory (Ed: percentage in this case is calculated as the ratio of total points scored divided by points against for the season; it is the tie breaker if teams have identical won-loss records).
Carlton opened the match with clear intent to move the ball quickly into their forward line, to give their twin-towers forwards, Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay, the best opportunity to compete in one-on-one situations. In this match it was Curnow who benefitted most, marking (catching) at will against an undersized Eagles defense. Carlton dominated early with contested possessions and showed a marked improvement in their forward entries. In the first quarter they scored 11 times off just 13 entries. The Eagles two goals came from defensive rebounds, where they ran the ball through the middle of the ground for quick transitions into attack. The Eagles remained in the game in the first quarter because they pushed their forwards towards the ball to win mid-field contests. However, this led to a disruption of their forward structure and any forward thrusts were quickly shut down by the Carlton defenders.
In the second quarter the Eagles matched Carlton in contested possessions and won their share of clearances, but the home team was plagued by poor delivery into attack. Adam Saad was active mopping up loose balls across the half back line for Carlton, using his pace and kicking to set up attacks from defense. Carlton's Jacob Weitering was also strong in defense against Jack Darling, who struggled to get hold of the ball for the Eagles. Adam Cerra's ball use across the centerline for the Blues was a highlight in this stanza, with his precision kicking giving his forwards silver service. Three of Carlton's four goals in the second term came from turnovers where they rebounded the ball into attack before the Eagles' defenders could get back into position. As the match progressed, the Blues dominated with possession of the ball and the Eagles found it tougher to set up play. The Carlton players were prepared to run to create space and by half time had doubled the number of uncontested possessions created by the Eagles.
After the main break the Blues opened up their forward line, creating space for Curnow and McKay to use their height to advantage. Curnow marked strongly and booted three for the quarter. At the other end, the Eagles forward line was congested and disorganized. The Eagles were also unable to transition the ball with speed due to the pressure from the Carlton midfielders. Carlton not only dominated with possession of the ball they also led in the number of tackles laid. The Eagle midfield, despite the best efforts of Tim Kelly, was always under pressure. Carlton didn't just kick long and high to their forwards, rather they moved the ball around to kick short to free players or to players on a lead. Their third quarter became a clinic on how to dissect a defense.
The only interest left in the final quarter was whether Curnow would boot his tenth goal. Carlton dominated for most of the final stanza, moving the ball forward with ease and sharing the goals around. Even last-line defender Brodie Kemp came forward to kick a goal. The Eagles doubled their score in the final quarter, but it was due to Carlton dropping their intensity which allowed the Eagles gain possession.
The Eagles are struggling and there is no indication that better results are just around the corner. Next week Carlton meet the Brisbane Lions at Marvel Stadium in what should be an even match. The struggling Eagles will travel to the MCG to meet the Richmond Tigers who will be expected to win.
Scores West Coast Eagles: 2.3 3.4 3.7 6.8 (44) Carlton Blues: 5.6 9.8 14.12 23.14 (152) Best West Coast Eagles: Kelly, Hunt, Duggan, O'Neill, Gaff Carlton Blues: Curnow, Cripps, Newman, Acres, Hewett
Article last changed on Saturday, May 06, 2023 - 8:41 PM EDT