CARLTON recorded its fourth win of the season with a scrappy seven-point victory over a persistent North Melbourne.
Marking their first win over the opposition since 2014 and their first win at the Gabba since 2013, the Blues led for the entirety of the afternoon and held onto a lead established in the opening term.
Despite North Melbourne drawing with five points at the final break, it was another valuable - and heart-stopping - win for the Blues, who equal the ledger after eight rounds.
It was a physical contest from the first bounce, with the Blues moving it quickly out of the middle. Marc Pittonet was confident against Todd Goldstein, with six disposals and three clearances allowing the Blues to move the ball forward. It reaped full reward in the opening term, with Michael Gibbons, Matthew Kennedy and Jack Newnes putting the Blues on the board early. Will Setterfield and Jack Martin were pivotal in moving the ball forward, while David Cuningham didn’t need a second invitation when an errant North Melbourne handball fell in his lap within range.
Kennedy started off the quarter quickly with his second goal, while both teams put on a physical display from the center bounce. Setterfield and Cripps were vital in clearing the ball from the middle and Lachie Plowman put the pressure on down the line. North had gained more territory than the first term, putting the defensive line to the test. An unlucky ball bounce led to North’s third straight goal for the term while North’s pressure mounted. A classy handball chain in the forward 50 led to an important goal from Walsh, lifting Carlton’s momentum.
Keeping in form with the rest of the game, the Blues started with a quick goal through Newnes after a tough contest in their forward half. Both sides struggled to convert on the scoreboard, with the ball travelling from 50 to 50. Carlton missed some chances to gain back momentum, recording four straight behinds while trapping the ball inside their forward 50. Jacob Weitering and Jones restricted the North forwards with intercept marks but a hamstring injury to Mitch McGovern left the Blues a man down. As the Blues looked to wrestle the momentum, three late goals to North Melbourne saw the opponent draw within five points.
The heavens opened at the Gabba which made wet weather football a must, with the Blues adjusting to the conditions early. Walsh was key in the Blues while Plowman was crucial on the last line of defence. Cuningham’s second goal was crucial, turning and converting from outside 50 to give the Blues’ some breathing room. Leaders Sam Docherty and Kade Simpson did everything to thwart North Melbourne’s offence, with the Blues eventually holding on for a scrappy seven-point win.
Moment of the match:
Cool, calm and collected. With barely anyone able to get clean control of the ball, an errant Jared Polec handball found its way into the path of David Cuningham.
Having kicked an early goal, Cuningham didn't need a second invitation: from beyond 50, Cuningham turned on a dime and sent one sailing over the goal umpire for what was ultimately the sealer.
Three things we learned:
1. Sam Walsh can provide the pressure - and stand up - when his team needs it most. For the second straight week at the Gabba, and despite being only in his second year, Walsh provided his trademark hard running for four quarters on the way to a 21-disposal, one-goal performance.
2. Senior Coach David Teague called for an improved defensive effort, and Lachie Plowman was key in providing that. The 102-gamer had some crucial plays in the final term, producing an impressive defensive performance for the third consecutive week.
3. When Will Setterfield and Matt Kennedy are on form, Carlton's midfield unit looks very strong. The two bulls were fierce at the contest from the outset, collecting 20 disposals each: both were vital in moving and clearing the ball forward as the Blues outclassed the best clearance team in the competition.
NORTH MELBOURNE 1.2 5.2 8.2 8.9 (57)
CARLTON 5.1 7.2 8.7 9.10 (64)
Carlton: Cuningham 2, Kennedy 2, Newnes 2, Casboult, Gibbons, Walsh
Carlton: Setterfield, Plowman, Pittonet, Kennedy, Weitering, Walsh, Curnow, Simpson