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Resurgent Blues sink Suns in battle of the cellar dwellers

Highlights: Carlton v Gold Coast The Blues and the Suns clash in round 18

IT HAD been a long time since Carlton last won two straight games.

Indeed, for large periods of Saturday afternoon's seesawing clash with Gold Coast at Marvel Stadium, it played like a team that had found itself in such unfamiliar territory.

But while the Blues made hard work of their 24-point victory over the Suns, the milestone that was 43 games and more than two years in the making was finally ticked off.

It's all smiles for Carlton after recording another win under David Teague. Picture: AFL Photos

While caretaker coach David Teague might have said it wasn't a landmark on Carlton's radar, the 15.9 (99) to 11.9 (75) win represented a feat worth celebrating for the Blues.

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While wins had once been a rare occurrence for the club, they are now happening with some regularity under Teague's watch – Saturday's was his fourth victory in six games.

Matt Kennedy was the surprisingly steady figure in Carlton's win, swinging forward once again with great effectiveness to finish with a career-high four goals in an effective display.

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With captain Patrick Cripps well shackled in the midfield, Ed Curnow (31 disposals, nine marks) and Sam Walsh (27 disposals, four tackles) were among the most prolific players, while Liam Jones (19 disposals, 11 marks) was almost faultless down back.

Gold Coast can take positives from the performance, if not the result.

When the Blues pushed their lead to 43 points midway through the third quarter, it looked like all hope was lost. But they bravely worked their way back into the match.

Touk Miller (27 disposals, 11 tackles) and Will Brodie (26 disposals, 10 tackles) were the pick of the bunch for the visitors, whose losing run now stretches to 13 matches.

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Starting the match as such overwhelming favourites, you could have almost forgiven the Blues had they found the new ground difficult to navigate in the game's early stages.

But after a relatively scrappy first 10 minutes, things finally clicked, with the hosts ending the opening term with four straight goals to take an 18-point lead into quarter-time.

Gold Coast looked to apply the brakes and, for the most part in a relatively even second quarter, restored parity around the ball and looked a far more competitive outfit.

But the routine nature in which Carlton was able to put successive goals on the board hurt its young opponents, with the Blues' lead stretching by the main interval.

It was frustrating for the Suns, whose half was perhaps best summed up by Ben King reversing a free kick after attempting to strike Lachie Plowman – only for the youngster to miss his intended target and instead hit his own teammate Michael Rischitelli.

The third quarter was a truly bizarre one, as Carlton first looked to capitalise upon Gold Coast's inability to close the gap throughout an improved second term.

The Blues kicked four of the first five goals to start the second half, with none more celebrated than Josh Deluca's first major in his maiden game for the club.

But in what was turning into a game full of momentum swings, Gold Coast responded with four unanswered goals of its own to reduce the gap to just 18 points at the last change.

It ensured a final quarter probably more tense than Teague would have liked, though the club's interim boss might have been satisfied with his side's game management.

Completely shutting the match down as a contest, Carlton slowed the tempo, reduced Gold Coast's forward-half chances and ultimately walked away with the points.

Carlton: Paddy Dow was a late withdrawal due to illness, replaced by Carlton debutant Josh Deluca. Patrick Cripps was crunched in a first-quarter contest and looked hobbled by the blow, but battled through to play out the match.

Gold Coast: Will Brodie came from the field midway through the final quarter after hurting his hamstring and did not return to the field. 

Carlton heads to the MCG to face Adelaide next Saturday afternoon, while Gold Coast returns to Metricon Stadium to take on Essendon in the Sunday twilight slot.

CARLTON           5.3     8.5     13.6     15.9 (99)
GOLD COAST    2.3      4.5     10.6     11.9 (75)

Carlton: Kennedy 4, McKay 2, Setterfield, Lang, Casboult, Deluca, Gibbons, O'Brien, Murphy, Fisher, Cripps
Gold Coast: Sexton 3, Wright 2, King, Rischitelli, MacPherson, Burgess, Hanley, Lemmens

Carlton: E.Curnow, Jones, Petrevski-Seton, Kennedy, Casboult, McKay, Simpson
Gold Coast: Brodie, Miller, Fiorini, Hanley, MacPherson, Witts

Carlton: Dow (illness) replaced in selected side by Deluca
Gold Coast: Brodie (hamstring)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Foot, Howorth, Fleer

Official crowd: 31,765 at Marvel Stadium