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Bye bye, wooden spoon? Ferocious Blues upset hapless Demons

Highlights: Carlton v Melbourne The Blues and Demons clash in round 21
Matthew Kreuzer and Patrick Cripps celebrate a goal against the Demons - ${keywords}
Matthew Kreuzer and Patrick Cripps celebrate a goal against the Demons

CARLTON has moved off the bottom of the ladder after inflicting a demoralising 23-point loss on Melbourne at the MCG on Sunday.

The Blues used a 10 goal-to-two opening half to set up the victory, holding off a Demons comeback to record a 12.6 (78) to 7.13. (55) win.

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The victory was Carlton’s fourth of the season, lifting it one game clear of the Brisbane Lions at the foot of the ladder.

With the Lions to face Hawthorn and the Western Bulldogs in the final two rounds of the year, Carlton appears set to avoid a last-placed finish.

The Blues face Greater Western Sydney and Hawthorn in their final two games of the season.

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For a side that hit rock bottom earlier this season, the Blues played inspired football in the first half to make Melbourne look second-rate.

Matthew Kreuzer was outstanding for the Blues, accounting for Demons big man Max Gawn in what was a fascinating ruck duel.

Kreuzer's impact on the contest was consistent throughout - the No.1 pick from the 2007 NAB AFL Draft finished with 17 disposals, 22 hit-outs, three goals (all in the first half), four clearances and five tackles.

PLAYER FOCUS: Cripps v Hogan

Skipper Marc Murphy was also prolific in the first half, racking up 14 touches before he was substituted out of the game with what appeared to be a dislocated left shoulder.

Carlton interim coach John Barker said it was a courageous win considering the Blues lost Murphy, Kreuzer and Michael Jamison in the second half. 

"To have such a brave performance from such an inexperienced group was pleasing," Barker said.

"There's some real spirit there. Regardless of the talent we had on the park, we saw some real spirit."

With Murphy down and out it was up to Patrick Cripps to pick up the slack. A clutch final-term goal broke the Demons' resistance and capped off another excellent afternoon (26 disposals and eight clearances) for the Rising Star favourite.

Even without Lachie Henderson - who sensationally departed the club during the week after asking to be traded at the end of the season - up forward, the Blues found the necessary scoring options to kick a winning score.

Veteran Andrew Walker, who has battled a knee injury for much of the year, kicked four goals in the opening half while Andrejs Everitt and Cripps chipped in with two apiece.

 

Demons coach Paul Roos noted during the week that his players were in holiday mode and in the first half they appeared to have checked out emotionally and physically.

Melbourne's ball use was atrocious, with five of the Blues' first six goals coming from turnovers. The Demons' structures broke down horrendously and their effort and desire was close to non-existent.

But when captain Nathan Jones kicked truly from the 50m arc at the 13-minute mark of the third term, the club's first goal since the second quarter, the Demons' comeback began in earnest.

Melbourne inched back to within 17 points after kicking the next four goals, but Cripps' set-shot at the key stage of the game put the game out of the Demons' reach.

Roos said after the match that slow starts to games had become a "pattern" in recent weeks, although he said poor performances could not just be isolated to the latter half of this season.

"Today's game is a sample of our season," Roos said.

"There's a serious problem, that we can't as a footy team, play four quarters.

"It's something that we need to address one way or the other."

Melbourne fans 'deserve better' says Roos

For the Demons, Jack Watts battled hard to win 19 disposals to go along with one goal, while Jack Grimes and Tom McDonald both finished with 25 touches.

But their efforts went unrewarded as Melbourne's spluttering season slipped further into the mire.

Big Blue Tom Bell scrambles to get a kick away under pressure. Picture: AFL Media

CARLTON         6.2   10.2    11.3    12.6 (78)                               
MELBOURNE    1.2    2.3     6.9     7.13 (55)                        

GOALS
Carlton: Kreuzer 4, Walker 3, Cripps 2, Everitt 2, Watson
Melbourne: Grimes, Dawes, Jones, Watts, Newton, Garlett, Gawn

BEST 
Carlton: Cripps, Kreuzer, Tutt, Curnow, Murphy, Docherty
Melbourne: Watts, Grimes, Newton, McDonald, Michie, N. Jones

INJURIES 
Carlton: Casboult (knee) replaced in selected side by Watson, Menzel (shoulder), Murphy (shoulder), Jamison (concussion), Kreuzer (back)
Melbourne: Lumumba (ankle)

SUBSTITUTES
Carlton: Marc Murphy (shoulder) replaced by David Ellard in the third quarter
Melbourne: Heritier Lumumba (ankle) replaced by Alex Neal-Bullen in the second quarter

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Foot, Ryan, Hay, Armstrong

Official crowd: 33,962 at the MCG

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs