A SPIRITED second-half comeback fell short for the Carlton Reserves, who succumbed by 16 points in their opening clash of the VFL season against North Melbourne.

After being held at an arm’s length by the Roos throughout the first half, the Blues stormed out of the blocks after the main break, even hitting the front in the last quarter.

However, a late flurry by the home side ensured it wasn’t to be, with North Melbourne coming away with a 13.12 (90) to 10.14 (74) victory.


On a day where the Blues had seven Club debutants, there were positive signs by all three of the Blues’ new AFL recruits in Ashton Moir, Rob Monahan and Billy Wilson.

With so many new faces, the Blues took a while to get going, unable to generate any meaningful ball movement from the back half despite faring strongly in the contested possession stakes. North Melbourne dominated the Sherrin from an uncontested point of view, ending the day with +36 marks despite Carlton's clearance dominance.

Carlton could only muster three goals in the first half, with Marc Pittonet producing one of those in the first quarter. Amongst a young side, the ruckman provided excellent leadership over all four quarters in a best-on-ground performance for the Blues, on a day where he contributed 25 disposals, 19 hitouts and 12 clearances in addition to that first-quarter major.

One player who also stood up for the Blues was Alex Cincotta, who was thrust into the midfield to provide a stronger body around the ball. Looking to provide his trademark run and carry all day, Cincotta ended with 25 disposals and six clearances to go with five tackles.

The Blues needed a response in the second half, and someone who kickstarted that was Brodie Kemp (19 disposals, eight marks). Playing down back for the first half, Kemp was swung into attack to provide an aerial threat at the beginning of the third quarter. It yielded almost immediate results, with Kemp taking a strong contested mark before snapping a goal a few minutes later to give the Blues some energy and a way back into the game.

After North Melbourne looked to settle to respond to Carlton’s early flurry, the Blues’ debutants all stood up in a matter of minutes. VFL first-gamer Will White got on the end of his first major, and when Moir and Monahan both showed their quality in front of goal in quick succession, Carlton was suddenly within a kick at the final break.

The Blues’ momentum continued in the final term, with Zavier Maher - playing his first game in a year, after an ACL injury in Round 1 last season - putting the Blues in front with a running goal from 50. And when Lefroy kicked his third, the Blues suddenly had a handy seven-point buffer.

But a late charge from North Melbourne saw the home side kick the last four of the game, with Carlton chasing the result in the final minutes. 

From a VFL perspective, Lefroy was a clear standout, while Luke Nelson (18 disposals, one goal) and Tom Phillips (19 disposals) - who both arrived from other VFL clubs in the off-season - performed strongly in their first appearances for Carlton.

The Blues have another bye in the VFL next weekend, with their next game coming at IKON Park in a fortnight against Collingwood.

NORTH MELBOURNE     2.5     6.5     8.9       13.12 (90)
CARLTON                       2.3     3.5     7.9       10.14 (74)

Lefroy 3, Kemp, Maher, Moir, Monahan, Nelson, Pittonet, White

Carlton: Pittonet, Cincotta, Kemp, Lefroy, Nelson, Phillips