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Match report: Eagles grind out win over Blues

Highlights: Carlton v West Coast The Blues and Eagles clash in round five

WEST Coast has overcome a gallant Carlton outfit to post a 10-point win on Saturday afternoon at the MCG.

In doing so, the Eagles moved to 4-1 and were on top of the ladder at the time their game finished, and were guaranteed of being ensconced in the top-four by round's end.

Comeback Carlton defender Sam Rowe, returning from a right knee reconstruction, was given the tough task on Josh Kennedy and held him to one goal, enough to tie Peter Sumich on the club's goalkicking list, with 514.

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West Coast's 10.19 (79) to 10.9 (69) victory consigned the Blues to an 0-5 start to the season for the first time since 1989.

It was the Eagles' first win at the MCG since beating the Blues back in 2016.

It was a frustrating day for Kennedy, who gave away a 50m penalty in the third term as he tussled with Rowe. It seemed he broke Sumich's mark later that quarter when he snapped what appeared to be a goal, but Lachie Powman's insistence he had touched the football was deemed correct by the score review system.

WATCH: Kennedy equals Sumich's record

Willie Rioli once again excited, particularly with a brilliant effort in the second quarter when he worked hard to spoil Kade Simpson before receiving a handball, stepping around Patrick Cripps and slotting a classy goal.

WATCH: Willie Rioli's amazing effort

West Coast coach Adam Simpson was happy to bank the four points and head home.

"It was a grind game. We anticipated that. The suggestion they would be a walkover was ridiculous considering what Carlton are as a footy club, where they're at and the talent they have coming through," Simpson said.

"We missed a few shots, couldn't break the game open but in the end we got the win."

Brendon Bolton's brave Blues brought the attitude and effort that had largely been missing this year, but they lacked polish, fielding a team missing the top four from last season's best and fairest – Marc Murphy (left foot), Sam Docherty (left knee), Matthew Kreuzer (groin) and Bryce Gibbs (Adelaide).

The game descended into a slog at times, which was especially the case amid a run of nine consecutive behinds during a patch in the first and second quarters.

However, the Blues faithful would have been buoyed by the return to form of Liam Jones (16 one-percenters), who looked confident in the air, while young pair Zac Fisher and Paddy Dow supported the magnificent Patrick Cripps (34 disposals, 19 contested possessions and 11 tackles).

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Keeping the opposition under 100 points for the first time this season was another positive, although the Eagles helped ensure that happened by missing numerous chances.

Bolton acknowledged the improved defensive performance against a side that was averaging 110 points per game coming into the clash but lamented his side's costly skill errors.

"There were a few defensive 50 goals against that they kicked. You need to really concentrate in and around that," Bolton said.

"Also, just some turnovers coming out of the back 50. I think you could envisage those. You give up some easy goals and there's the game, really, in terms of the difference."

The appearance of Harry McKay had been long-awaited and, after a forgettable start, he finished with four goals that included a brilliant checkside set shot from deep in a pocket with about seven minutes left in the contest.

WATCH: McKay's magic minute

Nic Naitanui was quiet, accumulating eight disposals and 26 hit-outs as Andrew Phillips surprisingly took the points in that battle. 

Carlton: Backman Cam O'Shea was the victim of friendly fire in the last quarter when he copped a knock to the head from Lochie O'Brien. Cripps had a blood nose after an errant Scott Lycett right arm saw him leave the field with just under five minutes left in the match.

WATCH: Friendly fire downs O'Shea

West Coast: Defender Brad Sheppard was hobbling briefly while diving to ensure a Dow shot wouldn't be a goal in the first quarter, but he played out the game. Rioli laid a big hit on Dow and went to ground holding his head, but came back on soon enough.

Carlton will aim to win for the first time this season when they face the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium on Friday night. Meanwhile, the first ever derby will be played at Optus Stadium when West Coast and Fremantle close out round six on Sunday week.

CARLTON        2.1       4.5       6.6       10.9 (69)
WEST COAST   3.5       5.11     9.16     10.19 (79)

McKay 4, Casboult 2, E.Curnow, Petrevski-Seton, Fisher, Kerridge
West Coast: LeCras 3, Gaff 2, Lycett, Kennedy, Shuey, Rioli, Masten

Carlton:  Cripps, Simpson, Fisher, Jones, Rowe, McKay 
West Coast: Gaff, Yeo, Masten, Shuey, Sheed, Rioli

Carlton: O'Shea (head)
West Coast: Nil

Reports: Nil

Umpires: O'Gorman, Hay, Mollison

Official crowd: 27,900 at the MCG