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Five talking points: Carlton v Melbourne

Highlights: Carlton v Melbourne The Blues and the Demons clash in round nine

1. Tom McDonald's value is rapidly rising

Tom McDonald is one of the most versatile big men in the game and his value, as a restricted free agent, is rising rapidly. The older McDonald brother has been in stellar form since returning from a foot injury in round six and he continued his purple patch against the Blues, slamming home four majors (three in the second quarter). McDonald is yet to re-sign with Melbourne and although contract talks have been staged, there has been no concrete progress. Melbourne deserves credit for maximising McDonald's skills, with the swingman able to start the game on the wing and use his running power and then head forward and do damage in front of the big sticks. The 25-year-old is well within his rights to explore his market worth, although the Demons would want to sign him up pretty quickly to avoid the flurry of opposition clubs chasing his signature.

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2. Blues hit new low under Bolton

Missing both Curnow brothers, the task of beating Melbourne was always going to be a tough one. But without a go-to forward, as Charlie Curnow (quad) and Levi Casboult (ribs) sat on the sidelines, the Blues failed to slow down a red-hot Demons outfit. It was a landslide after quarter-time, with Carlton recording its biggest loss in Brendon Bolton's time coaching Carlton. Melbourne piled on 25.9, eight of those goals coming in the third term as Simon Goodwin's side produced the highest individual score of a team this year. It was also Melbourne's biggest win since 1993, underlining the side's newly found ruthless nature and top-four aspirations. For Carlton, it was a reflection of how much work it still needs to do to be a competitive side consistently.

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3. Returning skippers bid to make up for lost time

Both Jack Viney and Marc Murphy were coming back after lengthy layoffs with foot injuries. The Melbourne co-captain had not played a game this season after several setbacks with a stress fracture in his foot over the pre-season. Viney spent large periods of the game in a run-with role on Carlton star Patrick Cripps and, although he didn't win much of the ball, he and Angus Brayshaw did their utmost to contain the Blues star's influence. Murphy, returning from a plantar fascia injury suffered in the warm-up in round four, appeared to be hampered early in the contest and even hobbled from the field in the first term. However, he fought on to win 19 touches and lay 10 tackles, as well as booting a goal late in the game. After such a limited preparation, the star midfielders will look to build into the season and make up for lost time.

4. Did Gawn go over the mark?

An animated Max Gawn certainly didn’t think so as his bemused look towards umpire Brendan Hosking showed. With Carlton's Harry McKay lining up for a goal after the quarter-time siren, Gawn was adjudged to have crept over the mark in successfully smothering the Blues' youngster's kick at goal. McKay received a 50m penalty that brought him to the goal-line where he was easily able to convert. Gawn's indignation with the umpire's decision was clear ,and the Blues players certainly let the big man know about his mistake. It was one blemish on what was a largely productive afternoon for the ruckman, who got the better of his ruck battle with Matthew Kreuzer.


5. Vince continues to live life on the edge

Melbourne veteran Bernie Vince has been a regular offender when it comes to tribunal/match review panel and match review officer matters over the years. And Michael Christian will again look at an incident involving Vince in the first quarter of Sunday's game. Vince collected Blue Dale Thomas with a bump right up the middle, running past the ball to confront him. Luckily for Vince, Thomas jumped right up and got involved in the next contest, so it could have been a whole lot worse. The Demons defender has already been fined $2000 for striking Essendon's Darcy Parish in round six and there's no doubt Christian will look at this incident very closely.