For the first time this season, it was a third quarter that proved the reason Carlton won, defeating North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night, 17.12 (114) to 10.4 (64).
The Blues were challenged by their opponents, leading by just eight points at half-time, but a seven-goals-to-two third term broke the game open as Michael Voss’ side registered its fifth win of the season.
Carlton will host Adelaide next week at Marvel Stadium, while North Melbourne will travel to Perth to face a red-hot Fremantle side.
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There were two late changes for the clash, with Zac Williams (Achilles) and Aiden Corr (health and safety protocols) replaced by Lachie Plowman and Miller Bergman.
In a fairytale start for the Blues, debutant Jack Carroll kicked his first AFL goal – and the first of the match – with his first kick.
Despite Carlton’s opening goal, the Kangaroos looked promising in general play and had several opportunities up forward.
One of those chances was converted by Callum Coleman-Jones, who kicked his first goal as a Roo.
Carlton clicked into gear after that, however, kicking three straight goals before Nick Larkey steadied things for the Roos.
The Blues suffered an injury scare late in the term as Tom De Koning limped from the ground and was treated by medicos for what appeared to be an ankle complaint – he returned to the ground with his ankle strapped to start the second quarter.
North Melbourne started the second term impressively, with two quick goals to Cam Zurhaar and Nick Larkey reducing the margin to just one goal before scores were levelled shortly after.
While Carlton hit back with three of the next four goals, North Melbourne refused to relent, keeping the margin within a couple of goals.
Carlton’s eight-point lead quickly grew in the third term, however, with two goals in the opening three minutes via Jack Newnes and Charlie Curnow.
Carlton second half blitz slams Kangaroo | 01:09
The Blues didn’t let go of the momentum from there, piling on the goals to take a 40-point lead into the final change.
Number one draft pick Jason Horne-Francis got particularly animated and vented his frustrations, glaring at an umpire after an unfavourable call and narrowly dodging a free kick for dissent before getting into a heated scuffle with Jack Silvagni shortly after.
A larger brawl erupted later in the term after a dangerous tunneling free kick, which resulted in a 100 metre penalty to Jacob Weitering and his first goal in 1,491 days.
The fourth quarter was effectively only to decide the final margin, with the Blues once again outpowering their opponents to cruise to a healthy win.
3) YOU’RE A WIZARD, HARRY
Is Harry McKay a better player in 2022 than he was in his Coleman Medal winning year last year?
It’s a bold statement, but one Gerard Healy was prepared to make as the 24-year-old ran all over North Melbourne.
He finished with four goals, two behinds, 15 disposals and six score involvements.
It was a brilliant performance from McKay, who kicked just the one goal in the season-opener before rediscovering his best form.
“This guy just keeps on improving,” Healy said.
“I think he‘s a better player this year than he was last year, love his workrate. He’s sending a message with just how hard he’s attacking the ball.”
Earlier in the match, Jordan Lewis was full of praise for the key forward star.
“He‘s further up the ground on occasions as well. It’s not one lead; if you watch him live and hone in on the way that he leads it’s two, three and even four leads,” he said.
“His aerobic capacity to keep on leading and presenting is extraordinary. A couple of those marks have been under pressure with the kick coming at full speed but marking at full stretch. He’s a delight to watch.”
2) BLUES OVERCOME THIRD-QUARTER CURSE
The numbers heading into Saturday night would’ve been alarming for Michael Voss.
In the opening six rounds, Carlton had been outscored 28.16 (184) to 9.13 (67).
This time, however, it was the third quarter that proved the difference maker for the Blues, kicking seven goals to North Melbourne’s two.
Even more impressive, the Blues blew the game open without too much from Patrick Cripps in that quarter, even though he starred in the other three.
Everyone got involved for the Blues, including Jacob Weitering, who capitalised on a 100-metre penalty to kick his first goal in over 1,000 days.
It was a quarter that determined the result and one that would be welcome relief for Blues fans tearing their hair out after half-time in the opening six rounds.
1) BETTER, BUT LONG ROAD REMAINS
North Melbourne showed a lot of positive signs in the opening half before the side was once again blown off the park by the opposition.
It may’ve been one quarter that sealed the result, but at the end of the day it was another heavy loss for the Roos.
There were some good signs in the second quarter at least, when the Roos rallied to challenge the Blues.
“They got mauled in the first quarter and then it was Goldstein, LDU and the rest of the midfielders getting some energy and getting that quicker ball movement, which put Carlton under some real pressure and on the other side gave their forwards opportunities,” Jordan Lewis said at half-time.
By the end of the match, Nick Riewoldt still wasn’t overly convinced Saturday night’s effort was a turning point for David Noble’s side.
“A little bit (better than previous matches), but where are they at? It’s a long road back for North Melbourne,” he said during Fox Footy’s Best on Ground.
“We’re seeing flashes, but at the moment if you want to feel good as a team, go out and play North Melbourne.
“The thing with North Melbourne is you look at the players like Horne-Francis … we’re still a couple of years away from really seeing those guys in terms of the expectation really popping as players.
“It’s patience, it’s sort of status quo if you’re a North Melbourne fan.”
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