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Blues denied in comeback

Marc McGowan, AFL Media  May 28, 2017 6:24 PM

Highlights | Carlton vs North Melbourne Watch all the highlights from Carlton's Round 10 match against North Melbourne.

Mason Wood transformed a dirty day into a match-winning one to spare North Melbourne from another costly defeat against a gallant Carlton at Etihad Stadium on Sunday evening.

The fifth-year forward had a modest four disposals in the opening three quarters, but his wonderful 50m set-shot strike regained the lead for the Roos in the final term.

A second Wood major soon after, following a pack-splitting mark, put North 17 points clear and as good as sealed the eventual 17.11 (113) to 15.6 (96) victory.

Brad Scott's Kangaroos have now won four of their past five matches to climb back into a crowded finals race after a 0-5 start to 2017.

"They're no pushover, Carlton. The opposition has to play well to beat them and if the opposition's off their game, they get done," Scott said post-match. 

"I don't look at it as relief … We made quite a few changes until we got the mix that we liked, but I thought it was a great sign of character.

"When the momentum is against you (it takes a lot to get it back) and the Carlton army was right behind them in the third quarter. For the second week in a row, our guys stood up against that momentum and pushed it back the other way, which was really pleasing." 

The Blues looked in danger of a blowout defeat when Trent Dumont slotted a remarkable checkside goal from the boundary to put North 45 points up in the second quarter. 

That gave the Roos 11 of the game's first 14 goals, including seven in the first term, but Carlton launched a furious fightback that saw it snatch the lead inside the first four minutes of the last quarter.

Brad Scott's men had already suffered three losses by five points or fewer this season, after roughly five-goal leads, but this time responded in extreme adversity. 

Wood wasn't the only North footballer to correct his afternoon, with Ben Cunnington – after a possession-less third term – winning 10 of his 17 disposals in the last quarter.

Skipper Jack Ziebell (29) and Shaun Higgins (27) shone brightest for most of the day. They won 31 contested possessions between them in excellent individual displays. 

Luke McDonald (28) was another strong performer and capped his work with a long running goal in the final-term flurry.

Trent Dumont – back in the line-up at out-of-favour Andrew Swallow's expense after missing a week because of concussion – was also a good contributor in a run-with role on Blues captain Marc Murphy.

Dumont's late head knock caused some concern, but his coach said club doctors gave him the all-clear and he would be fit to face Richmond in a crucial clash next week.

The Kangaroos have become one of the competition's fastest-starting teams in the past month, racking up 23 first-quarter goals in their past three wins. 

That status was a distant memory as Carlton roared back into contention behind contested ball beast Patrick Cripps (32 possessions, 11 clearances) and some mercurial Bryce Gibbs finishing in front of goal. 

Gibbs amassed a match-high 38 disposals and three goals in a masterful effort, while Sam Docherty patrolled the backline proficiently and Matthew Kreuzer won his ruck battle with Todd Goldstein. 

The Blues' desire to play keepings off frustrated North through the middle of the match and the latter went more than half an hour without a score at one stage. 

But Carlton coach Brendon Bolton was not satisfied with the comeback and said next week's bye presented a chance for his 3-7 side to look at where it needed to improve.

"We're not going to get drawn into a gallant fightback conversation," Bolton told reporters.
 

"Our start was not at the level we'd like. We got beaten on the inside and the outside and it's a little inconsistency we've got to learn to iron out as a footy club. 

"Our players and coaching staff are going to use the break to review that, but also refresh and keep working towards more consistency."

CARLTON                    2.0    7.2    12.4  15.6 (96)                              
NORTH MELBOURNE 7.2    11.3  12.6  17.11 (113)          

GOALS
Carlton: Gibbs 3, Casboult 2, Cuningham 2, Docherty 2, C.Curnow 2, Wright, Cripps, Murphy, Sumner
North Melbourne: Garner 3, Higgins 2, Turner 2, Wood 2, Hansen 2, Hrovat, Waite, Brown, Dumont, Atley, McDonald

BEST 
Carlton: Gibbs, Kreuzer, Cripps, E.Curnow, Docherty, Simpson, C.Curnow
North Melbourne: Higgins, McDonald, Williams, Ziebell, Dumont, Tarrant

 

MEDICAL ROOM 

Carlton: The Blues appeared to get through the match without any injury concerns and will have the bye to rest any sore bodies.

North Melbourne: Dumont, back from a week out with concussion was the sole concern for the Roos after a late head knock saw him leave the field. But coach Brad Scott made a point of checking the inside midfielder's status post-match and said he was "fine".

NEXT UP

North's season goes on the line in a clash with fellow finals contender Richmond that promises to deliver great momentum for the winner. A fifth win in six outings would have the Roos on the cusp of the top eight. Carlton has the week off before hosting Greater Western Sydney at Etihad Stadium on June 11.