Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Patersons Stadium, Perth
Chris Yarran’s dashing three goals proved to be the catalyst in the Carlton Blues’ upset win over the favored West Coast Eagles in their Round Four contest at Patersons Stadium. The Blues had traveled west with some hard fought games under their belt but no wins so far. By the time the final siren rang, it was Yarran's stunning goals on the run that proved the difference.
With a forward line stacked with tall timber, it was always going to be a hard task for the Eagles’ smaller back line to hold the Blues out. Sam Rowe scored Carlton's first goal with a strong mark and conversion. West Coast settled and lit up the crowd early with a coast-to-coast goal from a kick-in. Mark LeCras found himself in the action and his kick had the Eagles’ first goal up. This seemed to fire them up and for the most of the quarter the play was in the Eagles’ forward half - but they could not kick straight. The old adage that poor kicking is poor football would come back to haunt them. As the game progressed the Eagles virtually kicked themselves out of the game. Although they led by quarter time, they squandered opportunities to bury Carlton by kicking eight behinds from some simple chances at goal.
Both teams traded goals early in the second quarter but the Eagles had more of the ball. Their tight forward press was working well but they could not kick straight enough to convert. The trouble with a full on press is that if an opponent manages to get behind it, it becomes a foot race to try and catch him. This is exactly what Carlton managed to do with some long kicking to a breakout player. In this case it was Chris Yarran who - like a miniature Usain Bolt - took off at lightning speed, bouncing the ball and pulling away from his opposition. On three occasions he sprinted off with the ball to kick goals, leaving the Eagles floundering in his wake. He was aided in each case by some spirited running by his teammates who ran interference from behind to shepherd him on his sprint. Yarran’s pace broke the game open for Carlton. Combined with their better than average kicking percentage and high efficiency from their inside 50 penetrations, they were looking a much more dangerous outfit than West Coast. By the time the first half had ended both teams had an equal number of shots on goal, however Carlton had stretched out a 20 point lead.
Carlton put the screws on in the second half by kicking the first two goals and the game looked over from that point. West Coast hadn’t scored a goal since the nine minute mark of the second quarter but LeCras sparked them with his second goal of the game. Yarran popped up again as a wet blanket on West Coast’s hopes when he scored his fourth goal as a result of a free kick right in front of goals. The Eagles were reduced to snapping goals from almost impossible angles as Jack Darling and Daniel Kerr demonstrated. The Carlton defense would have been happy to let their opponents bomb away from the 50 meter arc deep in the forward pockets, knowing that the easier routes to goal were well covered. Despite their work rate, West Coast had reduced the deficit by a paltry five points at three quarter time.
Players from both teams had run themselves into the ground by this stage of the game. There were many packs and stoppages as well as basic skill errors in kicking and ball handling. Carlton put the finishing touches on their win with the only two goals of the quarter. While the Eagles tried hard, they could only score points and their poor accuracy when kicking for goals cost them the match. West Coast joined seven other teams - including Carlton - with just one win for the season. Although they face a couple of easier opponents in the coming weeks, they will have to lift their rating to be considered a threat. Carlton is facing some tough games but the Blues players are starting to apply their game plan with more efficiency. A couple of wins from their upcoming games will see them emerge as a serious challenger for Finals football.
Scoreboard West Coast: 2.8 3.14 7.18 7.23 (65) Carlton: 2.5 7.10 10.15 12.17 (89) Best players West Coast: S Selwood, Mastin, LeCras, Shuey Carlton: McLean, Yarran, Murphy, Armfield, Walker
Article last changed on Thursday, April 25, 2013 - 12:41 AM EDT