Jarrad Waite and Lachie Henderson celebrate a goal in the win over the Western Bulldogs
CARLTON has rebounded from its week from hell by scoring a gutsy 28-point win over the Western Bulldogs in a rollicking and drama-filled match at Etihad Stadium on Sunday evening.
In his first game since last year's semi-final loss to the Sydney Swans, the two-time Brownlow medallist, who has battled an Achilles problem in recent months, started the game in the green substitute's vest.
After replacing youngster Patrick Cripps in the third quarter (a move that was greeted by a roar from the Carlton fans), Judd gathered three disposals in around six minutes, but pulled up lame while dashing through the middle of the ground.
Judd's injury left the Blues with just two men on the bench for the first 14 minutes of the last quarter, and they had only one for the remainder of the game after Ed Curnow suffered a leg injury when he crashed into a behind post.
Taking all that into account, the result was a triumph for Carlton and its under-fire coach Mick Malthouse after the club had started 0-4 for the first time in 25 years.
"I felt today we were mentally prepared and mentally strong when we needed to be, and that may have been an offshoot of losing four, I'm not too sure. It's immeasurable," Malthouse said.
"My understanding of the game, and sport in general, is that if you lose games like this it becomes a consolidation of the group and the mind, and today we were able to push through a good football side and a lack of rotation availability."
The Blues hadn't kicked more than 12 goals in a game this season, yet they piled on 13 majors in the first half.
Malthouse's men looked a completely different side to the outfit that was flogged by Essendon and upset by Melbourne in the previous two weeks.
They played on at all costs, racing the ball from end to end with precise skills and hard running.
Key forwards Lachie Henderson and Jarrad Waite were among the match-winners. They had the better of a Bulldogs backline that was missing Dale Morris (suspension) and Jordan Roughead (shoulder injury).
Henderson slotted three goals in the opening quarter and finished with five, while Waite, who was back in the team after serving a week's penance in the VFL, bagged three majors in an impressive first half.
The Blues' onballers also rediscovered their verve, with Bryce Gibbs and Marc Murphy producing their best efforts of the season.
Gibbs ran around by himself for much of the evening and gathered a team-high 29 disposals, while Murphy, who was shadowed by Mitch Wallis and Liam Picken, racked up 28 touches and two goals.
Ruckman Robert Warnock was another impressive contributor, having the better of his battle with All Australian Will Minson.
The Bulldogs went into the match needing a win to jump into the top eight. Instead, they now sit 15th with a 2-3 record.
"We went for plan A, B, C, D, E," Dogs coach Brendan McCartney said. "Some of our supporters mightn't have thought that.
"We were probably hamstrung, positionally, in a few areas, but we did try, structurally, quite a lot of things to hang in there.
"But they dealt with the day better than we did, and a pretty strong footy club stood up for itself, I would've thought."
Stewart Crameri led the way for the Bulldogs up forward, booting four goals.
Crameri's performance included a brilliant running goal from near the boundary early in the last quarter, but it also featured a terrible miss from 20m out, right in front, later in the final term when his team desperately needed him to do better.
Dogs skipper Ryan Griffen gave his all in the middle of the ground, while first-gamer Marcus Bontempelli, the No.4 pick in last year's NAB AFL Draft, finished with 14 disposals.
Ryan Griffen shoots out a handpass as Kane Lucas tries to hang on. Picture: AFL Media
WESTERN BULLDOGS 3.3 8.6 12.8 13.13 (91)
CARLTON 7.3 13.6 16.9 18.11 (119)
Western Bulldogs: Crameri 4, Dahlhaus 2, Stevens 2, Boyd, Cooney, Wallis, Jong, Giansiracusa
Carlton: Henderson 5, Waite 3, Murphy 2, Scotland 2, Gibbs, Ellard, Bell, Yarran, Everitt, Thomas
Western Bulldogs: Griffen, Cooney, Boyd, Dahlhaus, Crameri
Carlton: Gibbs, Murphy, Henderson, Simpson, Curnow
Western Bulldogs: Nil
Carlton: Judd (hamstring), Curnow (knee), Bell (finger)
Western Bulldogs: Mitch Wallis replaced by Daniel Giansiracusa in the third quarter
Carlton: Patrick Cripps replaced by Chris Judd in the third quarter
Reports: Koby Stevens (Western Bulldogs) for rough conduct on Kane Lucas (Carlton) in the fourth quarter
Umpires: Burgess, Kamolins, Jeffery
Official crowd: 27,986 at Etihad Stadium