Charlie Curnow celebrates a goal during Carlton's clash against West Coast in round seven, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

CARLTON star Charlie Curnow could do no wrong in a career-best night, toying with West Coast and kicking nine goals to spearhead the Blues' 108-point win at Optus Stadium. 

The athletic key forward kicked his goals from all angles and dominated four different opponents as the Blues made a statement in the west, winning 23.14 (152) to 6.8 (44) in a ruthless performance. 

EAGLES v BLUES Full match coverage and stats

He was a threat whenever the ball went near him, taking a career-high eight contested marks and 11 inside 50, including a classic grab on Shannon Hurn's shoulders and several strong marks when opposed to Tom Barrass.   


His brilliant night set a new goalkicking record for Optus Stadium, overtaking the eight-goal bags kicked by champion forwards Lance Franklin in 2018 and Josh Kennedy last season. 

It took Curnow's season tally to a League-best 30 goals after he entered the round with 21 to his name and in second place on the Coleman Medal leaderboard. 


While Curnow was the story, there were positives all over the ground for the Blues, whose deep midfield ran relentlessly all night as the team got its speed and ferocity back after back-to-back losses.   

Blake Acres (34 disposals and six inside 50s) was brilliant on a wing, while captain Patrick Cripps (33 and eight clearances) and polished onballer Adam Cerra (30 and five inside 50s) were influential. 

The Blues had 12 individual goalkickers and six players who racked up 30 disposals or more in what was ultimately a trouncing on the Eagles' home turf.  


Brodie Kemp came into the team and was clean all night with 22 touches and 13 marks, with rebounders Adam Saad (25 and five rebounds) and Sam Docherty (24 and five inside 50s) also making seamless returns to the 22. 

Together, they delivered West Coast its fifth consecutive loss and its heaviest since the 109-point defeat to Richmond in round seven last season. 

The trend was set early when Harry McKay and Curnow combined for four of the Blues' first five goals in the opening quarter, presenting superbly to their midfielders and converting twice each. 

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The Blues controlled the clearances (13-8) and contested ball (37-26), chiefly through George Hewett, Cripps and Cerra, and it became clear quickly that they had West Coast covered on every line.

A pair of crafty first-half goals from fringe midfielder Xavier O'Neill gave the Eagles a small positive as they look for individual development, while Hurn gave a reminder of the stability he provides with a courageous mark running with the flight. 


The Eagles got on top at stoppages briefly, winning the clearances 13-6 for the quarter, but they couldn't connect with their forwards for clean entries as Jack Darling and Oscar Allen entered half-time goalless and with one mark each. 

The question at the main break was whether Carlton had the ruthlessness to put the foot down in the second half and turn a 40-point margin into a more significant win. 

Curnow provided the answer within 10 minutes, kicking back-to-back goals as the Blues' midfield run went to a new level and set the foundation for a percentage-boosting win.


It forced a change from Eagles coach Adam Simpson, who moved Barrass onto Curnow, leaving Josh Rotham to battle with McKay on the last line of defence. 

By the end of the quarter, however, Curnow had equalled his career-best seven goals and 11 marks, with West Coast substitute Rhett Bazzo becoming his third opponent for the night as the margin moved past 70 points. 

The final term was all about what damage the Blues – and Curnow – could inflict on a helpless West Coast. They kicked nine goals to three in the run home to record their biggest win since round two, 2011. 

Docherty's brilliant return 
Carlton star Sam Docherty was expected to miss up to six weeks when scans revealed earlier this month that he required surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee. Still listed as two to four weeks away from returning earlier this week, he somehow got himself up and was excellent all night. Why wait an extra week was Michael Voss's theory when it became clear he was fit, and it was good timing as a tune-up before a crunch game against Brisbane next week. 

Sam Docherty in action during the R7 match between Carlton and West Coast at Optus Stadium on April 29, 2023. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Eagles return to the bottom 
It was round seven last season when West Coast dropped to 18th on the ladder and stayed there for an eight-week stretch before finally finishing in 17th. They appear to be on a similar path this year, with Hawthorn overtaking the Eagles on percentage on Saturday night to leave them in 18th. With such a stretched playing list, the Eagles lost the fight and workrate that they have been able to hang their hats on in recent weeks. It was not an acceptable performance, but the club now looks to be in a cycle of losing players to injury and stretching others, with dispiriting results.

Blues use local knowledge 
Former Fremantle wingman Blake Acres was playing his first game at Optus Stadium since crossing to the Blues at the end of last season. An important wingman in his final season with the Dockers, he picked up where he left off and shot up and down the wing dangerously all night. Adam Cerra was another former Docker who knows Optus Stadium well, and his ball use was a feature, with the pair combining for one passage in the second quarter when they used the corridor to pierce through the Eagles. 


WEST COAST        2.3   3.4   3.7   6.8 (44)
CARLTON               5.6   9.8   14.12   23.14 (152)   

West Coast: Allen 2, O'Neill 2, Culley, Witherden
Carlton: Curnow 9, Silvagni 3, McKay 2, Acres, Cerra, Cripps, Durdin, Hollands, Honey, Kemp, Kennedy, Newman 

West Coast: Hurn, O'Neill, Kelly, Hunt
Carlton: Curnow, Acres, Cripps, Cerra, Newman, Docherty, Kemp

West Coast: Petrevski-Seton (leg), Bazzo (concussion)
Carlton: Nil 

West Coast: Rhett Bazzo (replaced Samo Petrevski-Seton in the third quarter) 
Carlton: Matthew Kennedy (replaced Adam Saad at three-quarter time)

Crowd: 47,940 at Optus Stadium