IT WAS the result Carlton supporters wanted, and the one the team needed.
An efficient second-half performance in one of the most thrilling games of the year saw the Blues emerge with a 16-point victory against their arch rivals.
So, how did it all happen?
The running men
The post-match commentary on FOX Footy after the song was sung included a passing mention of the subdued nature of this particular rendition.
In an up-and-back, end-to-end game, these figures might give an indication as to why.
Comfortably Carlton’s best player on the day, Sam Walsh collected 33 disposals and bobbed up in all areas of the ground: literally.
Via the Telstra Tracker, Walsh ran 17.1 kilometres: the most recorded of any Blue in the last five years, and the second most of any player across the competition this season.
Not far behind him was Matthew Cottrell, whose 16.7 kilometres of distance covered was the third most of any Blue since Round 6, 2019, behind only Walsh and Ed Curnow two years ago (16.9 kilometres).
Bucking the trend, part one
A few weeks ago, this article highlighted Carlton’s success on the scoreboard when winning the contested possession count.
Yesterday’s game was the reversal of that stat in a big way, despite the stat line being a close one.
Despite finishing -5 in the contested possession differential, the Blues emerged 16 points ahead where it mattered.
It was just the third time since David Teague took the reins at IKON Park that the Blues have lost the contested possession count and won, having been 13 from 15 prior to Sunday’s contest.
Additionally, the last 14 times the Blues had lost the contested possession count, they had failed to get the four points: that run ended yesterday.
Bucking the trend, part two
So much of the commentary in the pre-season was around Carlton conceding runs of five goals.
After the Lions last weekend produced the first five-goal run against the Blues in 2021, it was the inverse which occurred on Sunday.
Carlton’s ability to pile on the pressure on the scoreboard was evident after quarter time, overturning a 21-point Essendon lead into a game-winning ascendancy.
The Blues produced a five-goal run themselves either side of half time, while also kicking seven of nine goals from the 18-minute mark of the third term to the 19-minute mark of the last quarter.
The difference makers
If two out of three ain’t bad, three out of three is - very much - perfect.
That’s the record for Luke Parks, whose trifecta of games in the Navy Blue have all ended with the song being sung in the right rooms from a Navy Blue point of view.
In doing so, he became the first Blue since Zach Tuohy in 2011 to enjoy success in his first three games.
Of course, he was joined by Matthew Owies, who is two from two across two seasons: he made his debut in the five-point win over Sydney in Round 16 last year.
Owies also became the first Blue since Harry McKay in 2018 to kick at least three goals on his MCG debut.
Speaking of McKay…
If there was one blemish for the rapturous Carlton supporters at the final siren, it was McKay’s miss which would’ve levelled things up in the Coleman Medal stakes.
That’s not to ignore what McKay has achieved so far this season, producing four second-half goals after overcoming illness on the morning of the game.
In his last six matches, McKay has produced bags of seven, six and two lots of four, while he has kicked multiple goals in nine of his last 10 games.
Now just three goals shy of 100 career goals, it took McKay 35 games to reach the 50: his last 47 have come from just 20 games since.