CARLTON produced its most complete performance of the season, accounting for the Western Bulldogs by 52 points.
In their biggest win since 2014, the Blues led from siren to siren, bursting out of the blocks with five goals and finishing off in style with a six-goal final quarter.
It put Carlton in the eight at the end of the round for the first time since 2013: the win was made even more impressive with the lack of impact from Patrick Cripps, who battled manfully despite a shoulder injury.
The slippery conditions was meant to make it difficult for the Blues’ tall forward line, but Harry McKay didn't read the script. He slotted the first goal of the night, and then followed it up with a big tackle deep in the Blues’ forward line, allowing Eddie Betts to kick his first. Carlton’s forward half pressure was a real highlight, laying five tackles inside 50 in the opening term: they averaged six per game in the opening five weeks. It caused all sorts of problems for the Bulldogs' defenders, who conceded five goals. The main worry for the Blues came in the form of shoulder injury to Patrick Cripps soured the first quarter, with the co-captain heading down to the rooms for treatment.
An early goal to Jack Martin set the tone for the Blues, while Michael Gibbons continued his good form around the contest as a high half-forward. Carlton was unable to make the most of their chances up forward, while the Dogs kicked two quick goals in succession to reduce the margin to 15 points halfway through the term. The Carlton defenders held up well under the relentless attack from the Bulldogs, before a scrappy second goal from McKay helped steady the ship. The milestone man Lachie Plowman played an important role in defence, covering ground and helping set up Eddie Betts’ second goal of the night just the main break.
The third quarter started with plenty of energy from both teams, with quick goals going each way. An important goal to Mitch McGovern helped put a stop to the Bulldogs’ momentum, while the Carlton defence once again had their work cut out for them as the opposition’s run and rapid forward entries looked to turn the game in their favour. With Cripps labouring, Matt Kennedy and Will Setterfield were important early in the term and ending the third quarter as the Blues' major ball-winners, as the 'hosts' held onto an 18-point lead at the final change.
If it looked like the Dogs had the momentum at the final change, the Blues turned that on its head in the final term. The big boys up forward came to play, kicking a crucial goal each to take the game away from the Bulldogs. Once again, Liam Jones and Jacob Weitering held down the fort at the other end, keeping Josh Bruce and Josh Schache scoreless. It was left to who else but Eddie Betts to seal the deal, kicking his fourth goal on the siren to bring up the ton and put the Blues in the eight on percentage.
Moment of the match:
Nothing beats the roar of the Bluebagger crowd.
There may have only been 2500 people allowed into Metricon Stadium, but the overwhelmingly Navy Blue crowd made it feel like much more.
The roar of the crowd was great to hear and made it feel a lot more like home.
Three things from the game:
1. Will Setterfield and Matthew Kennedy lifted when their team needed them to. As Patrick Cripps battled through a shoulder injury, the responsibility had to be shared and the former Giant duo stood up. They both finished with 20 disposals apiece and provided some grunt in a centre clearance battle where Carlton got to work.
2. Three talls on a wet night - why not? Carlton backed in its trio of Levi Casboult, Harry McKay and Mitch McGovern and it absolutely paid off. McKay enjoyed his best performance of an interrupted season with three goals, while two final quarter goals from McGovern were all class. An accurate set shot from distance by Casboult was the cherry on top.
3. On his return to the Gold Coast, Jack Martin provided his new side with another performance to remember. While it may not have been his biggest night numbers wise, it didn't need to be: of Martin's 13 disposals, nine of those were score involvements with two of those being classy goals.
CARLTON 5.2 8.5 10.6 16.7 (103)
BULLDOGS 2.1 5.2 7.6 7.9 (51)