THAT marks an end to another pre-season.

Carlton’s final dress rehearsal for the 2024 campaign ended in a 38-point defeat at home to Melbourne.

Despite the best efforts of Harry McKay (10 marks, three goals) and Adam Saad (26 disposals), the Blues were outgunned in transition by the Dees, who opened the game up in the latter stages of the second quarter and were never headed over the course of the night.

Quarter one

In hot conditions, it was Melbourne which made the fast start, with a Max Gawn goal from long range opening proceedings. It wasn’t long after when Harry McKay picked up from where he left off in last week’s match simulation, taking a clever mark from an Orazio Fantasia inside 50 and converting to level the scores. The Blues were winning the ball at the contest, eclipsing their opponents for both contested possessions and clearances, but it was defending in transition where the Blues were vulnerable, as the Dees kicked five goals in the opening term largely off Carlton turnovers. Another intuitive mark inside 50, this time from Charlie Curnow, ensured Carlton had put a couple on the board, while crucial defensive moments from Adam Saad, Elijah Hollands and Brodie Kemp drew the love from a good crowd at IKON Park. However, a second goal to Gawn on the siren meant the Blues trailed by 19 points at the first change.

Quarter two

After sustaining a jarred toe in the first quarter, Jesse Motlop played no further part in the game at IKON Park, being replaced by Jaxon Binns. The Blues enjoyed a bright start to the second term, with David Cuningham and Harry McKay both hitting the scoreboard to bring the team within single digits. Once again playing in the midfield, Sam Docherty provided some drive for the Blues in the first half of the term, while Ollie Hollands continued to impress with his run both in the contest and around the ground. However, after Carlton’s early good work, Melbourne well and truly took charge of the contest, dominating time in possession and in forward half. After inside 50s were even at quarter time, the Dees were +8 in the stat come half time, piling on four consecutive goals to open up a 34-point lead. That was despite the best efforts of Adam Saad, who defended with typical vigour throughout the first half.


Quarter three

There was a renewed sense of vigour about the Blues in the third term, as they looked to put a disappointing second quarter behind them and take the game to the Dees. Saad continued to look to create at every opportunity coming out of the back half, while Brodie Kemp started to get his intercept game going with five for the term. It wasn’t all perfect for the Blues, with the Dees still managing to kick three goals of their own, but the Blues’ offensive game clicked into gear in the third term. Harry McKay, who started to spend more time in the ruck after Marc Pittonet completed his allocated minutes, assisted Charlie Curnow for his second and kicked his third, while Blake Acres snuck forward from the wing to hit the scoreboard. The highlight of the game from a Carlton perspective came from Jordan Boyd, who continued his impressive pre-season when his holding-the-ball tackle was rewarded and he slotted a left-footed snap for his first unofficial goal in Navy Blue.

Quarter four

Carlton fans got their first look at Billy Wilson in the last quarter, with the draftee brought into the game at three-quarter time and immediately slotting in across half-back. The sting was largely taken out of the contest when Melbourne kicked a pair of early goals, once again reopening a lead in excess of seven goals. Brodie Kemp continued to intercept well in an impressive second-half showing from the young key defender, finishing with 11 intercept possessions, while George Hewett battled hard at the coalface to finish with 25 disposals — one shy of Adam Saad and Patrick Cripps. The captain recorded a final-quarter goal to go with his seven clearances for the night, while an opportunistic soccer from Charlie Curnow ensured he matched the scoreboard output of Harry McKay with three majors. It ended in a 38-point defeat to Carlton, with attention now turning to the Blues’ first clash for the 2024 season against Brisbane at the Gabba next Friday night.

CARLTON           2.0     4.0     8.2       10.3 (63)
MELBOURNE     5.1     9.4     12.7     15.11 (101)


Carlton: McKay 3, Curnow 3, Acres, Boyd, Cripps, Cuningham