The Blues win 7 in a row to hit the top 5. Could we finally play finals?

Round 21, 2023

Carlton 2.4 16 3.4 22 6.7 43 10.13 73
St Kilda 3.1 19 7.2 44 8.3 51 8.6 54
Venue: Marvel Stadium.
Date: Sunday August 6, 2023 (3.20pm)
Result: Won by 19 points
Crowd: 42,656
Goalkickers: J. Motlop 2.1, B. Acres 2.0, M. Owies 1.2, T. De Koning 1.1, D. Cuningham 1.0, C. Curnow, 1.0, P. Dow 1.0, J. Martin 1.0, S. Docherty 0.3, M. Cottrell 0.2, Rushed 0.4.
Umpires: 1 - Chris Donlon, 10 - Robert O'Gorman, 18 - Ray Chamberlain, 37 - Martin Rodger
Ladder: 5th

Game Review

Brilliant comeback for backs-to-the-wall Blues

Carlton recorded a crucial comeback win against St Kilda. - By Cristian Filippo, Carlton Media.

Backs to the wall, four points in the bank. A resurgent second half from Carlton has seen it record its seventh consecutive win, accounting for St Kilda by 19 points. The Blues struggled under incessant Saints pressure early, with the home side recording over 50 tackles in the first half. However, the Blues came out with renewed spirit in the second half, kicking seven goals to one to overturn a 22-point deficit into a 19-point win. Nic Newman was simply superb in a faultless defensive performance, amassing 35 disposals, while Blake Acres was the hero against his former side, kicking his second of the game in the dying stages to seal an animated win.

Quarter one
The stakes of the game were clearly from the get go, with neither side giving an each at the contest. Starting across half-back, where he has spent previous weeks in the VFL, Zac Fisher made the most of his senior recall in the early going, collecting five disposals in as many minutes to commence proceedings. The Blues’ pressure around the ball was typically strong, but unlike last week, they weren’t able to make early opportunities count, spurning shots on goal whereas the Saints took theirs with the opening two of the game. It was Jack Martin who led from the front in attack, taking a strong mark and converting by the width of the goal line from outside 50 to get the Blues on the board. Against his former side, Blake Acres - who was full of offensive and defensive running - followed suit shortly after, giving the Blues the lead back with his seventh first-quarter disposal. Jacob Weitering continued his brilliant personal form behind the ball, negating the returning Max King with a pair of contested intercept marks, as the Blues’ midfielders got on top around the ball (+10 contested possessions). Just when it looked as though the Blues would go into the quarter-time break with the lead, a late turnover was punished by Jack Higgins, giving the Saints a three-point lead.

Quarter two
It was a term of football that the Blues were left to rue at the main break, with the home side well and truly getting the jump on them. Come the nine-minute mark of the quarter, the Saints had piled on the first three goals of the term, opening up a 21-point discrepancy in the process. It started at the contest, with the Blues’ advantage around the ball in the opening term nullified: the opponents tied up the contested ball count at the half, and Carlton’s game suffered as a result. It wasn’t through a lack of trying from Nic Newman, who had 10 second-quarter disposals at 100 per cent efficiency, but it was an indication off the Blues’ back six being under pressure for the majority of the term. Turnovers which have been uncharacteristic of Carlton in the last six weeks crept into the team’s game, despite Jesse Motlop providing a moment of respite with a major. Inside 50s were even at the break, but the Saints were more efficient with the ball and in front of goal, taking a 22-point lead - doubling the Blues’ score - at the main break.

Quarter three
Marc Pittonet signalled the Blues’ renewed intent coming out of the sheds at half time, smothering an attempted Jack Sinclair clearance to get the ball going forward for the Blues. Carlton continued its ascendancy in the clearances, winning the first seven of the term to put the St Kilda defence under increasing strain. A quick kick out of the contest sailed through the big sticks from Tom De Koning, kickstarting a run which once again saw the play live largely in the Blues’ forward half in the early going of the term: however, unlike the first quarter, the Blues were able to capitalise. With his 20th goal of the season, Jesse Motlop streamed through the middle of the ground to deliver a clutch goal, while Charlie Curnow’s assist for a Matthew Owies major was just as good. It was around the ball where Carlton flexed its collective muscle, winning the stat 12-2 for the quarter, while the second half of the term saw the Blues’ backs lift. There were no better than Newman, who - continuing his outstanding 2023 - had a further 12 disposals, repelling the surging Saints brilliantly, while the dynamic Fisher had another 10.

Quarter four
It ultimately turned into what could be the defining quarter of Carlton’s season. David Cuningham set the Blues alight with a clutch banana from the pocket, setting in motion what would be an irrepressible Navy Blue outfit in the final term. After grinding away in the third quarter, the Blues were brutal in the last, with the ball living in their forward half for the entirety of the term. After a tense few minutes, Paddy Dow put the Blues in front following sustained pressure from all of Carlton’s lines. Once again, the on-ballers got the ball surging forward, winning clearances 12-4 — four of those coming from Tom De Koning alone. After playing an unselfish role all day, the subdued Charlie Curnow got on the scoreboard, just seconds after Ed Curnow got involved after being activated as sub. Weitering continued to play a vital role on the last line, before it was the former Saint in Acres who saved the play of the day for the final minutes: winning the ball on centre wing, the wingman carved through four Saints players on the way to kicking a goal from 50, sealing an emotional come-from-behind win under the roof.

Best: N. Newman, Z. Fisher, B. Acres, J. Weitering, J. Martin, S. Docherty.

Three things we learned
1. Carlton supporters have been talking about Nic Newman all season, but after the last two weeks, surely the football world is. When the Blues were under serious Saints pressure, Newman was there every single time, particularly in the second term when the Blues were struggling to get any meaningful play on their terms. Then, in the third quarter when the Blues got back in the contest, he was there again. Of his 35 disposals for the game (an equal career-high), 22 of those came in the middle two quarters in a best-on-ground performance.
2. Newman wasn’t alone across half-back — and there was a surprise face next to him. For those who haven’t been following on with the Carlton Reserves, Zac Fisher has spent recent weeks playing in the defensive half, and he showed his creativity in abundance on Sunday afternoon. Starting with 11 disposals in the first term, Fisher was an attacking outlet for the Blues, amassing 32 disposals at 84 per cent efficiency to make the most of his return to senior football. He rarely wasted a disposal, particularly in his 18-possession second half, as one of 16 Blues who featured in the win over the Saints that have featured at VFL level this season.
3. Charlie Curnow didn’t fire on the scoreboard, but the team didn’t need him to. While he delivered a typically clutch moment, giving the Blues a two-goal buffer late in the final term, Carlton otherwise had to find different avenues to score on a day where Harry McKay and Jack Silvagni also weren’t there. On the back of midfield dominance, Carlton had options aplenty in the second half, with only Jesse Motlop and the outstanding Acres the only multiple goalkickers for the game. All of the Blues’ seven second-half goalkickers were individuals.

In-and-out Blue still has plenty to offer
Out-of-contract midfielder Paddy Dow made a statement on Sunday, producing his best performance of the year to show Carlton he still has plenty to offer. The oft-maligned third overall pick from the 2017 draft has been linked with an off-season move, having struggled for AFL opportunities in 2023. Sunday's clash with St Kilda was only his seventh game of the season, five of which have come as the sub, and he only won his spot after Sam Walsh, Adam Cerra and Matt Kennedy missed out due to injury. But the 23-year-old delivered with 22 disposals including seven clearances, 10 contested possessions and the goal to put the Blues ahead in the final quarter. It remains to be seen what role Dow plays when the aforementioned trio of midfielders return, but Sunday's performance was exactly what the Blues needed to see from him - and could just increase his value on the trade market - Ben Somerford

Voss hails "great club win"

Michael Voss' post-match comments following the comeback win over St Kilda. - By Carlton Media

When push came to shove, Carlton rose to the occasion.
It looked as though the Blues' winning run was coming to an end at half time against the Saints, outhunted by the hosts to trail by 22 points at the main break. From there, a resurgent second half ensued, where Carlton kicked the final six goals of the game to emerge with a 19-point victory. For Michael Voss, it was a victory that was very much the sum of its parts: this is what he had to say.

On the win as a whole:
“That’s been a trademark of us for the last four or five weeks. We’ve had role players be able to get jobs done. “To be asked the question of being put under some so much pressure from the opposition, the Saints brought some serious heat. They asked a lot of questions of us, and there’s something in it when teams can absorb pressure. It wasn’t all going for us, but we were able to reset ourselves at half time, come back out and correct a few things and get to work on that. “It says a lot about the group, it says a lot about their mindset and where they’re at and it says a lot about their confidence. Thankfully we were able to turn it around: our second half was compelling.” “I was particularly pleased - impressed - with our leaders, again. For them to be able to lead that charge and be big in those moments was particularly impressive.”

On the half-time message:
“The first part was the acceptance that we were under an enormous amount of pressure. We had to modify a few things. When we were moving forward, we were clearly kicking it to their number and largely inefficient, so we needed to address that. “I just asked them ‘how do you want to play?’. ‘How do you want to play this second half?’. They wanted to play our way, they didn’t want to change anything, other than some things structurally to help us. We backed that in and went again. “A really big turnaround point was we had some big dominance in midfield. Clearances we were able to win really well, and we were able to get some territory on the field and be able to set up our game from there, which was really important. It was just whether we could get that scoreboard ticking over and start getting our efficiency up and going.”

On the ruck duo:
“Tom De Koning had some real statement plays. He brings some real energy to us. “It takes the combination of the two of them to get the job done. ‘Pitto’ was grinding away and then Tom can come in with some energy, they complement each other really well. We feel it’s a combination that’ll work really effectively both now and in the future.”

On Paddy Dow’s last-quarter goal:
“I’m going to confess… he was actually going to be subbed! And then he kicked the goal, and we though, ‘nope, we’ll get somebody else’. I’m going to put my hand up for that one . . . I thought the crowd might’ve tore down the stands if I subbed him, so I thought we better leave him on and see if he can finish the game off! “What a great moment, to finish the goal the way he did. With guys like him and ‘Fog’, I’m so impressed with their persistence through disappointment: clearly they want to be AFL players, and to be able to persist and play a role they are now, it’s been impressive. “We’ve got a lot of guys in our team right now that are in the same boat, and they’ve had to earn their way back in. Almost three quarters of our backline have spent time in the VFL, and there’s probably four or five in the forward line doing the same.”

On Charlie Curnow continually fronting up:
“It was about his persistence. It clearly wasn’t Charlie’s day, he just had to keep fighting. He had two guys playing on him, and AFL footy is hard enough with one, let alone two or three. “We had to absorb that, and for him to be able to be totally present and work his way through that was particularly impressive: then, when his moment came, he finished the play. There’s a lot to learn in that. “He wasn’t kicking a bag of six, others had to join in, but he did his job — that moment turned up, and he was good enough to finish it as you’d expect.”

On looking further ahead than Melbourne next week:
“Each challenge has been big enough to focus in on that. We’ve stayed present to what that actually looks like. Including Melbourne next week, we’re playing four of the top five teams in the last little period of time. “You’re not afforded the opportunity to drift and look too far forward. What we’ve got a lot of benefit out of is working on our game, staying completely present with one another and really enjoying what we’re doing. “We’re enjoying that part of the journey, so I see no reason why we would change that. We’ve got Melbourne next week, they’re a particularly impressive team that are going really well right now, so I think it’s dangerous to cast your mind any further than that.”

On the atmosphere inside Marvel Stadium:
“It’s a credit to St Kilda tonight, I thought the pressure they brought was fantastic. “There was a real energy in the stands tonight, it was so loud out there at times. It had that finals atmosphere about it, there was a real energy in the stadium. It was built off the pressure they were able to bring. “I’m so pleased we were able to absorb that and then be able to come out and answer that: I think it’s a special trait to be able to have. It shows the resilience of the group. Then, as we started to build the momentum and our pressure, the crowd came with us. It was pretty special.”

On Zac Fisher’s half-back move:
“He’s been playing back there in the VFL for a period of time. He wanted to go back there and explore it, there have been a few coaches that have been pushing for it to see if it was something worthwhile to consider. “He was good tonight, wasn’t he? He added some real punch out of the back half and joined in with that back six really well, he certainly asked the question of us. To be able to see him transfer that from the VFL team to the AFL team was really good to see.”

On the position where the team has come from:
“What we’re keen to tell is what our ‘now’ story is, not what was last year or what was six weeks ago. We’re done with looking back. We’re looking at the now and looking forward. “We take those lessons with us clearly, because if you find yourselves in those situations again and you find yourselves thriving, it’s because it comes from exposure. There’s no other way. At the end of the day, we’re enjoying where we’re at right now, and we feel like we’ve got so much to gain and so much left to give.”

On the scenes in the rooms post-match:
“It was good. It’s always a special moment, no matter how long you’ve been in football, when you’re in a winning room and the boys can take that 5-10 minutes to enjoy that together. “I’ve spoken to the boys before about this: they’re the team that’s got to get out there and get it done, but it takes clubs to turn it around like we have. It takes a team of people. They’ve got great support around them, we’ve got a great club supporting us. “It was a great club win, and they went out there and did us proud.”

Paddy shows his true value

In-and-out Blue still has plenty to offer. Out-of-contract midfielder Paddy Dow made a statement on Sunday, producing his best performance of the year to show Carlton he still has plenty to offer. The oft-maligned third overall pick from the 2017 draft has been linked with an off-season move, having struggled for AFL opportunities in 2023. Sunday's clash with St Kilda was only his seventh game of the season, five of which have come as the sub, and he only won his spot after Sam Walsh, Adam Cerra and Matt Kennedy missed out due to injury. But the 23-year-old delivered with 22 disposals including seven clearances, 10 contested possessions and the goal to put the Blues ahead in the final quarter. It remains to be seen what role Dow plays when the aforementioned trio of midfielders return, but Sunday's performance was exactly what the Blues needed to see from him - and could just increase his value on the trade market - Ben Somerford


B: 23 Jacob Weitering 17 Brodie Kemp 22 Caleb Marchbank
HB: 25 Zac Fisher 22 Caleb Marchbank 42 Adam Saad
C: 14 Ollie Hollands 9 Patrick Cripps (c) 13 Blake Acres
HF: 44 Matt Owies 28 David Cuningham 46 Matthew Cottrell
F: 12 Tom De Koning 30 Charlie Curnow 21 Jack Martin
Ruck: 27 Marc Pittonet 29 George Hewett 15 Sam Docherty
Interchange: 2 Paddy Dow 3 Jesse Motlop 8 Lachie Fogarty
39 Alex Cincotta
Substitute: 35 Ed Curnow
Coach: Michael Voss
Emergencies: 32 Jaxon Binns 36 Josh Honey 38 Sam Durdin

In: Ed Curnow & Zac Fisher
Out: Adam Cerra & Mitch McGovern (both injured)

Substitute: Ed Curnow (replaced Lachie Fogarty in 4th Quarter).


50th Game (AFL) : Lachie Fogarty
Rising Star Nominees: Oliver Hollands

Interesting Facts

1. Zac Fisher equalled his career-high 23 uncontested possessions in this game, he also had a career-high 21 kicks in this game.
2. Adam Saad played his 62nd game for Carlton, after previously playing 61 with Essendon.


7 - Blake Acres (CARL)
6 - Zac Fisher (CARL)
5 - Patrick Cripps (CARL)
5 - Nic Newman (CARL)
3 - Jacob Weitering (CARL)
2 - Tom De Koning (CARL)
1 - Callum Wilkie (STK)
1 - Mason Wood (STK)

Brownlow Votes

3 - Nic Newman (CARL)
2 - Sam Docherty (CARL)
1 - Brad Crouch (STK)

Best and Fairest Votes


Round 20 | Round 22
Contributors to this page: Jarusa , Bombasheldon , WillowBlue and molsey .
Page last modified on Thursday 21 of March, 2024 01:58:20 AEDT by Jarusa.

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