Matthew Owies celebrates a goal during the R9 match between Carlton and Melbourne at the MCG on May 9, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

SEVEN minutes into the third term, Carlton led by 38 points and appeared en route to a comfortable victory over Melbourne.

Christian Petracca was having none of that.

BLUES v DEMONS Full match coverage and stats

The superstar Demon, with help from skipper Max Gawn, dragged his side back to within one point of the Blues with 40 seconds remaining.

But as the rain poured down at the MCG, it was the navy blue army belting out the famous club song after a clutch defensive-50 gang tackle from Nic Newman and Patrick Cripps stopped a wheeling Petracca dead in his tracks.


The final margin was just one point, the Blues saluting 12.5 (77) to Melbourne's 11.10 (76).

Petracca booted five of Melbourne's 11 goals as the Demons outscored the Blues 4.4 to 1.1 in the final term, but the opening quarter cost them dearly.

The win may have come at a cost for the Blues, with Adam Cerra succumbing to another hamstring injury, adding to the ever-growing soft-tissue issues for the team.

Melbourne was upbeat after becoming the first team to knock off Geelong last weekend, while Carlton was faltering, dropping consecutive games to the Cats and Collingwood.


You wouldn't have known it from the first term.

Ed Langdon had the first shot of the game, his snap sailing out on the full, but it turned out to be Melbourne's only attempt at goal for the entire term as the Blues relished the temporarily wet conditions and piled on an impressive five straight majors.

It wasn't from lack of effort by the Dees, either, leading the inside 50 count 13-11 at the first break, but regardless, they recorded their first scoreless opening stanza since 2008.

It took a juggling effort – first with the left, then the right – for Petracca to open Melbourne's scoring account, 10 minutes into the second quarter.


Suddenly, the score was Carlton (36) to Petracca (13) and it appeared the move forward had been a masterstroke, but the Dees were unable to make any serious further headway into the Blues' lead.

Melbourne started to charge midway through the third term after the margin had pushed out to 38 points. The Dees began to maintain possession and lock the ball in their forward half, and Carlton's defence was looking decidedly edgy.

But a number of behinds in the final term – Harrison Petty missing a straightforward set shot, and a couple of rushed scores – meant that winning score remained elusive.

Newman could come under MRO scrutiny for a late and high bump on Alex Neal-Bullen in the third term when he left the ground and collected the Dee's jaw with his elbow after the ball was kicked.


Cripps (35 disposals) and Sam Walsh (34) led the way for Carlton, while defensive general Jacob Weitering was also one of the Blues' best.

Petracca salutes with a five-fa at the 'G
Thank goodness for Christian Petracca. The star Demon played a lone hand up forward (despite spending significant chunks of the game in the midfield) and dragged his team off the deck. Harrison Petty and Kysaiah Pickett were disposal-less until the final two minutes of the second term, the latter slowly working his way into the game in the second half but closely tracked by Alex Cincotta. Jacob van Rooyen was mostly shut out of the game, and Bayley Fritsch fairly ineffectual. Jacob Weitering, on the other hand, was absolutely superb. 


Lever's hands full (and not with the footy)
After a near best-on appearance against Geelong, Carlton was determined to keep intercept defender Jake Lever busy. He certainly had his hands full with Tom De Koning, the resting ruck having the reach on his smaller opponent, somewhat taking away his timing. It was a tactic that worked in patches – particularly in the first term, less so when De Koning was required to ruck while Marc Pittonet received treatment on his finger – but there is no doubt Lever's influence was dampened.

Viney's moment of brilliance
With four minutes remaining on the clock, Jack Viney wasn't content with yet another rushed behind. Lunging, he slid across the wet surface to knock the ball back into play, preventing his side from scoring a behind. His slap back was met by Caleb Windsor's perfect timing, last week's Rising Star nominee managing to both kick truly and steer the ball just clear of Blake Acres' ear. Skipper Max Gawn had been niggled and nagged by Pittonet all night, but his stunning wheel-and-go set shot – now a staple of his repertoire – cut the margin to just one point.



CARLTON            5.0     8.2     11.4     12.5     (77)
MELBOURNE     0.0     3.1     7.6     11.10     (76)

Carlton: Owies 3, Curnow 2, Walsh, Pittonet, Martin, McKay, De Koning, Cripps, Hewett
Melbourne: Petracca 5, Turner, Pickett, Fritsch, van Rooyen, Windsor, Gawn

Carlton: Cripps, Walsh, Weitering, Kennedy, O. Hollands, Curnow
Melbourne: Petracca, May, Neal-Bullen, Gawn, Viney

Carlton: Pittonet (finger), Cerra (hamstring)
Melbourne: Nil

Carlton: George Hewett (replaced Cerra in the third quarter)
Melbourne: Taj Woewodin (replaced Bowey in the fourth quarter)

Crowd: 58,472 at the MCG