FOR ALL the encouraging signs Carlton had displayed in the first month of the season, the zero in the win column was all that mattered to impatient Blues fans.
That all changed against the Western Bulldogs on Sunday, with Carlton taking an enormous step in its development to close out its first win of the season at a rocking Marvel Stadium on Easter Sunday.
The most pleasing aspect of the 44-point win over the Bulldogs for under-fire coach Brendon Bolton would have been his side's ability to respond when it was challenged through the third quarter, going on to an impressive 15.11 (101) to 7.15 (57) win.
BLUES ON THE BOARD Full match coverage and stats
Prized draftee Sam Walsh ensured the Blues would break the 100-point barrier for the first in 1051 days, kicking a beautiful banana goal on the final siren.
Brilliant performances from Patrick Cripps (36 disposals) and Sam Petrevski-Seton (35) through the midfield set up the win, as the Blues dominated proceedings in the first half and made the Bulldogs' onball brigade look second-rate.
Led by Cripps, who helped himself to a game-high 11 clearances (seven in the first half) and Petrevski-Seton, who achieved a career-high possession count in the third term, the Blues' midfield were outstanding.
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Cripps had the better of his battle with Marcus Bontempelli, who was a solid performer without having his usual influence on his way to 24 touches.
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But it was Blues forward Harry McKay who may have shaded every player on the ground when it came to the influence he had on the contest, with the 21-year-old enjoying a breakout individual performance.
McKay was near unstoppable in the air against a Bulldogs defence that severely lacks a game-changing key tall, taking 11 marks (five contested) and kicking four goals from 20 disposals.
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The promising youngster could have had a fifth that would have gone close to taking out the Goal of the Year award, after a four-bounce running effort, akin to Lance Franklin's efforts against Essendon and Adelaide in years gone by, ended in an entertaining behind.
Even without Charlie Curnow, who was a late withdrawal, the Blues took 16 marks inside 50 as McKay, Levi Casboult and Matthew Kreuzer stretched an under-sized Dogs defence.
Defensive playmakers Caleb Daniel (30 disposals) and Jason Johannisen (26) were the Bulldogs' best players, although the way the game panned out highlighted the run and gun game off half-back is just not sustainable in today's modern game.
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The Bulldogs threatened to make life difficult for the Blues late in the third term when Tory Dickson cut the margin to 18 points, but Beveridge's side lacked the firepower to overrun the Blues in the end.
The Blues' clearance dominance (41-26) and possession advantage (395-355) was aided by the return of Kreuzer who fought an entertaining battle against Tim English – who was much better than he has been in previous weeks.
Western Bulldogs: The Bulldogs got through the game with a clean bill of health.
Carlton: The Blues also got through the game unscathed.
The Bulldogs will travel to Perth for a clash against Fremantle at Optus Stadium next Saturday night. Carlton will trek south to Launceston where it will face Hawthorn in Tasmania next Sunday.
WESTERN BULLDOGS 3.3 4.10 6.12 7.15 (57)
CARLTON 5.3 8.5 11.6 15.11 (101)
Western Bulldogs: Dickson 2, Lloyd 2, McLean, Liberatore, Gowers
Carlton: McKay 4, Casboult 3, Dow, Murphy, Gibbons, Silvagni, McGovern, Petrevski-Seton, Fisher, Walsh
Carlton: McKay, Cripps, Petrevski-Seton, Murphy, Simpson, Gibbons, Jones
Western Bulldogs: Johannisen, Daniel, Bontempelli, Macrae
Western Bulldogs: Nil
Carlton: C.Curnow (knee soreness) replaced in selected side by Casboult
Umpires: Power, Dalgleish, Wallace
Official crowd: 35,069 at Marvel Stadium