Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay during the round three match between North Melbourne and Carlton at Marvel Stadium, March 29, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

CARLTON returns to the scene of their Gather Round crime next Saturday when they play Fremantle in an Adelaide Oval blockbuster on Saturday.

Amid several big match-ups in the nine Adelaide games, the Blues and Dockers will each take a 3-0 record into the twilight clash.

It was a similar story for Carlton last year, when it was 4-0 and opened the first Gather Round with a Thursday night match against Adelaide at the same venue.

The Crows tore the Blues apart and it proved the start of a nine-game slump where their only win was over wooden spooners West Coast.

The lessons from that horror night have stuck with star Blues forward Charlie Curnow.

"Obviously every game has high importance and we learned last year, if we let little slides into our game, it can affect you long-term," he said on Monday.

"Of course, when you go on the road, it also has a higher importance because they (wins) are harder to get.

"It's an important game."

Charlie Curnow celebrates a goal during the match between North Melbourne and Carlton at Marvel Stadium in round three, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

The Dockers' defence, led by in-form captain Alex Pearce, will confront a Carlton attack that bared its fangs in the Good Friday win over North Melbourne.

The Blues boasted 11 goalkickers, with Curnow kicking four and his fellow key forward Harry McKay contributing five.

Matt Owies also impressed, kicking three goals, and fellow small forward Elijah Hollands made an encouraging Carlton debut.

"It was an exciting one for us, as a forward line ... it can be a tough position, that (small) forward role, and being able to score a couple of goals too, that always helps," Curnow said.

"It was only a matter of time before you saw Owies on the end of a few goals, grabbing his jumper and celebrating."


McKay's improved accuracy is another obvious bonus for Carlton after his much-discussed issues last season in front of goal.

With McKay in form, he and Curnow are double trouble for the opposition defence as big-marking, potent tall forwards.

"You take away his goals and look at his whole game, his contesting marking, his leading at the footy - and he's finishing his work so well," Curnow said.

"He creates so much more opportunity for all of us as a forward line and as a team.

"We're going to see a pretty good Harry McKay this year.

"He's absolutely dominating right now and reaping the rewards."


There was more good news for the Blues on Monday morning when midfielder Sam Walsh returned to full training.

He has not played this season because of a back injury.

"It makes us all pretty excited. He had the yellow cap on, which means you can't touch him," Curnow said.

"I'm glad he doesn't have that on any more, because he was just running the field and tricking us all.

"The Blues fans will be excited to see him doing his thing. I know he's a pretty angry man when he's not playing football, so I'm excited to see him out there for all our sakes."