AFL Media's Travis King previews Carlton's Round 9 clash away to North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night:

A month ago, this match would have held minimal interest for the neutral supporter, but Carlton's four-game winning streak and North Melbourne's wake-up call against Essendon have renewed intrigue in the Etihad Stadium contest. The Blues' self-belief is sky-high following a come-from-behind triumph over Port Adelaide and Brendon Bolton is not just getting his team to play to a system, he's also rejuvenated Carlton's talented older players. The Blues have the stingiest defence of any team outside the top eight and won't be overawed by the undefeated Roos, who are deserved League leaders but face a test of the premiership credentials leading into the round 15 bye. Jarrad Waite (25 goals) has been pivotal for North and the ex-Blue will be keen to lead his new team to nine-straight wins to start a season for the first time in club history. 

WHERE AND WHEN: Etihad Stadium, Saturday, May 21, 7.25pm AEST
TV AND RADIO: Click here for broadcast guide

R18, 2015, North Melbourne 18.10 (118) d Carlton 8.6 (54) at Etihad Stadium
R18, 2014, Carlton 16.13 (109) d North Melbourne 13.8 (86) at Etihad Stadium
R17, 2013, Carlton 16.13 (109) d North Melbourne 16.12 (108) at Etihad Stadium
R16, 2012, North Melbourne 24.5 (149) d Carlton 14.12 (96) at Etihad Stadium
R19, 2011, Carlton 11.14 (80) d North Melbourne 9.8 (62) at Etihad Stadium

1. Led by Todd Goldstein in the ruck, the Kangaroos have been one of the strongest centre-clearance sides and are ranked fourth (averaging 14.4 per game), while the Blues have struggled in this area (ranked 18th at 9.6 per game).

2. North Melbourne and Carlton meet for the 153rd time and the Blues hold a big advantage, winning 97 games to 55. The last decade has belonged to the Kangaroos, though, with seven wins to four.

3. The Kangaroos' scoring has gone south recently. In the opening five rounds they averaged 122 points per game, but that has fallen to 72 points per game over the last three weeks.

4. North Melbourne has dominated Carlton at Etihad Stadium, winning 11 of 16 contests, with five by more than 50 points.

5. North Melbourne will be aiming for nine consecutive wins for the first time since rounds 5-14, 1999 when they won 10 in a row, their last premiership season. Carlton will be looking for five consecutive wins for the first time since rounds 14-18, 2000.

6. A fit and firing Matthew Kreuzer is charging up Shick Official AFL Player Ratings. The big Blue is ranked way below his ability at 338th overall, but that's an improvement of 150 rankings since round 18 last year, and it's the highest Kreuzer has been since round 21, 2014.


IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR … Jarrad Waite
The key forward has already faced his former club – kicking two goals in round 18 last year – but this time he'll be facing a more organised and competitive Carlton side and his ex-teammates will be determined to quell the in-form Roo's influence.