THE Carlton Reserves have won their opening three games of the season after a 52-point win over Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium.
After a tight opening term, the Blues kicked six goals in the second quarter to give themselves a handy lead over the Suns and never looked back.
Liam Stocker was prolific with 35 disposals off half back, while forward livewires Ben Crocker and Sam Philp combined for seven goals between them.
The match started well for the Blues, with Jack Newnes firing home the opening goal of the game from 40 meters out. Gold Coast then owned territory for most of the quarter, but its inaccuracy allowed Carlton to stay in touch. Despite the Suns leading the inside-50 count by five, a steadying goal late in the term from Sam Philp – who caused the turnover with his forward pressure – meant the quarter ended at two goals apiece. Newnes was running amok on the wing, complementing his goal with eight touches.
As the Suns continued to waste chances, the Blues started to take them. Philp willed the ball onto his boot whilst being tackled to sneak through his second goal of the game to put the Carlton Reserves back in front. From there the Blues took all the momentum, looking ever so dangerous whenever the ball went inside 50. Ben Crocker, Cody Hirst and Lachie Swaney all kicked goals from the pocket as Philp continued his day out with another goal. Crocker’s second of the match was enough for a 24-point lead at half time. Stocker and Dow both had great halves, each collecting 15 disposals.
The Carlton Reserves continued their good work in the first half in this quarter, as the lead of the Blues blew out to 37 points at one stage. This was thanks to a Zavier Maher tackle and goal, a Paddy Dow snap and a Cody Hirst major on the run. The Suns then hit back with three of the last four goals of the quarter. The only Blues goal mixed in that run was to Crocker, a running drop punt from tight on the boundary line that sailed through. Luke Parks was crucial in this quarter, taking a number of intercept marks to keep the Suns at bay.
While it wasn’t quite the nine-goal final quarter from last week, the Blues still finished off very strong on the Gold Coast. Matt Cottrell found himself out the back of the Suns’ defense on two separate occasions to start the term and kicked two goals as a result. The Blues then kicked away with Maher and Jesse Glass-McCasker kicking goals, as well as Crocker kicking his fourth, to finish with a big win. Maher’s final term deserves to be highlighted, as his eight touches and a goal saw him finish with 28 disposals and two majors for the game.
Three things we learned:
- Welcome back, Sam Philp. Just as he did in his last outing before a rib injury, Philp once again hit the scoreboard for a classy triple. He kicked three of the Blues first four goals, which were incredibly important at a time when the Suns were on top in the contest.
- The Blues mean business. It’s only a small sample size, but we’re three games in and the Carlton Reserves are still undefeated, sitting top of the VFL ladder. It’s been a terrific start to the season, with two scores of over 100 points.
- Ben Crocker’s got a bag of tricks. It’s not often you put up two nominations for VFL goal of the year in one game, but last year’s Carlton Reserves Best and Fairest might’ve just done that. His banana from the pocket in the second term, followed by a drop punt from the boundary line in the third were two brilliant finishes.
CARLTON RESERVES 2.1 8.4 12.6 17.11 (113)
GOLD COAST 2.6 3.10 7.16 7.19 (61)
GOALS: Crocker 4, Philp 3, Cottrell 2, Hirst 2, Maher 2, Dow, Glass-McCasker, Newnes, Swaney
BEST: Newnes, Maher, Crocker, Cahill, Stephens, Stocker
Tarquin Oakley 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.