Cold and slippery conditions under lights on Friday at IKON Park halted Footscray’s winning streak as they suffered a 19-point defeat to Carlton.
A dominant opening 10 minutes saw the red, white, and blue jump out of the gates, before Carlton fought their way back to run away 11.9 (75) to 8.8 (56) victors.
It was a red-hot start for the Dogs as they nailed the first three goals of the game, which included one from the returning Josh Bruce as players came from everywhere to get around him.
Footscray maintained field position and set up well behind the ball to stop any rebounds, and managed to weave through the Carlton defence with some methodical ball movement.
Carlton fought back with their transition game and managed to hit the front, before Bruce’s second after the quarter-time siren gave the Dogs a narrow three-point lead at the first change.
Neither team was able to gain the ascendancy in the second quarter as majority of the play remained between the flanks.
The cold conditions brought a slippery ball that hindered Footscray’s smooth ball movement, as the sturdy defence held strong to keep the Blues at bay, going into the main break just seven points down.
Slippery conditions continued to wreak havoc as the Dogs provided themselves with plenty of opportunities, but with little success in the goals column.
The Blues looked to kick away with the first two goals of the final term, before a fighting finish from the Dogs saw a three-goal reply to make it a 19-point margin to end the game.
It didn’t take long for the returning Bruce to impact the game, with two first-quarter goals from lead-up marks, before adding his third and final goal the next quarter, making the most of some tough entries in his first taste of footy since his injury late last AFL season.
Lachie Hunter also enjoyed a solid return, showing his class and composure with ball in hand to rack up 30 disposals, seven marks, and a goal, adding a big mark in the final term to round out a strong return.
Riley Garcia split time in the midfield and forward line in his first game back for Footscray, looking dangerous all around the ground with his zippy pressure, but was the most damaging in the middle of the ground collecting 27 disposals to go with nine tackles, and eight clearances.
Hayden Crozier (27 disposals, 10 marks) continues to be a stalwart in defence for the ‘Scray, maintaining his reliable decision-making and tough defence across four quarters.
Joining Crozier’s output in defence was Cody Raak (20 disposals, 10 marks) who continues to build each week, while Sam Darcy’s return (15 disposals, 13 marks) proved valuable with his intercept play and potency transitioning from defensive 50.
The high-flying Dom Bedendo patrolled the wings and displayed his aerial ability early, but also looked clean at ground level when many struggled, finishing with 23 disposals and 10 marks.
Footscray will host Box Hill at VU Whitten Oval on Saturday 25 June at 1:05pm as they look to get back on the winners list.
Carlton 4.1 6.5 9.8 11.9 (75)
Footscray 4.4 5.4 5.7 8.8 (56)
Goals: Bruce 3, Crozier, Macpherson, Hunter, Sullivan, Lewis