Round 6 Round up
IT WAS an emphatic way to kick off life away from Melbourne.
Recording their biggest win since 2014, the Blues produced their most complete performance of the season to account for the highly-fancied Bulldogs.
So, how did it all happen?
The case for the defence
In a time where scoring in the AFL is discussed more than ever, a lot of Monday’s conversation was about Carlton surpassing 100 points.
Let’s not discredit the Blues’ back-line, however.
On the purest numbers, it’s already a formidable stat that Carlton conceded just 16 scoring shots from 53 inside 50s.
However, there’s one particular stat that stands out from Sunday: the Blues didn’t lose a single one-on-one defensive contest.
Led by Jacob Weitering (five), the Blues faced 17 one-on-one contests and either won or broke even in all of them.
What about those forwards?
All attention turned to the team sheet and then to the skies, with heavy rain forecasted at Metricon Stadium. Carlton stuck by its three tall forwards, and they made a mockery of the conditions.
Levi Casboult, Mitch McGovern and Harry McKay all took more marks than any Western Bulldog, while combining for six goals on the scoreboard.
The Bulldogs defence hadn’t conceded a score of 40 points or more since Round 2, but the Blues eclipsed that total just seven minutes into the second quarter.
While the forward line needs more time to gel and gain consistency, the formula is working under David Teague: the Blues are ranked fourth for points scored after six rounds.
When it comes to forward quartets, Casboult, Eddie Betts, McGovern and Jack Martin have combined for 34 goals this season: only GWS can boast a better record than that.
Giant shoes to fill
When it comes to Carlton’s development as a team, the one thing the Blues know they need to move on from is its reliance on Patrick Cripps. After the co-captain sustained a shoulder injury, the need was even more urgent.
Up stepped Matthew Kennedy and Will Setterfield.
The former Giants were critical at the coalface, attending 17 and 13 centre bounces respectively while combining for 40 disposals, 20 contested possessions and five clearances.
It was a welcome return to action for Kennedy in his natural position, while Setterfield put together another strong showing in an impressive month of football.
Saving the best until last
At the time, it was their second best quarter of the season: but the Blues blew their first term out of the winner with a dominant final quarter.
With six goals for the term, the Blues took the game away from the Dogs, who looked like they were primed to shake things up at Metricon Stadium.
While the six unanswered goals were the reward, it came on the back of a quarter of football where the Blues well and truly got it on their terms.
Carlton were ranked No.1 in the final quarter across the competition on the weekend for disposal differential (+24), uncontested mark differential (+17) and disposal efficiency differential (+11 per cent).
Like a fine vino
The big Italian in the ruck seems to be getting better every single week.
It was always going to be an intriguing battle when Marc Pittonet came up against Tim English, who entered the game on the back of a strong three-week block.
However, Pittonet continued with what he’s done ever since he made his Navy Blue debut, providing a physical presence and giving the Blues the ascendancy in the contest: his tackle on Caleb Daniel summed it all up.
He has combined his physicality with ruck craft — Pittonet is currently ranked No.1 in the competition for hitouts to advantage per game.
A sense of deja Blue
If you were watching last night’s game thinking ‘I’ve seen this before’, you weren’t wrong.
Round 6, 2020 followed a very similar trend to Round 5, 2019 in a number of ways.
Just like last season’s clash, the Blues burst out of the blocks with a five-goal opening term, with Harry McKay - the dominant forward on the ground - kicking the first of the game.
A late Bulldogs goal in the third term brought the scores back to 66-48 with the contest delicately poised.
The Blues would then make all the running, with the last kick of the game seeing the Blues eclipse the 100-point barrier.
The more things change…