CARLTON has kept its season afloat with an unconvincing seven-point win over North Melbourne at a sodden Gabba on Saturday.
FULL MATCH COVERAGE Kangaroos v Blues
Just six days after losing a post-siren heartbreaker against Port Adelaide, the Blues had to withstand a brave fightback from the embattled Kangaroos to win 9.10 (64) to 9.3 (57).
>> WATCH ALL THE HIGHLIGHTS IN THE PLAYER ABOVE
Carlton has moved to a 4-4 record and outside the top eight on percentage, while the Roos remain 17th after their sixth successive defeat.
THE LADDER Where is your team sitting?
The Blues led by 23 points at quarter-time and looked like running away with an easy win, but North Melbourne showed real fight after, winning the second and third quarters.
Despite trailing by just six points at the final change, the Kangas could never get their noses in front and fell just short.
BIG BLUES SORE Key pair in doubt for WA clash with Hawks
Marc Murphy (22 disposals) was prolific on a wing, while Matthew Kennedy (20 disposals and two goals) and Will Setterfield (20 disposals, six clearances and two assists) were also influential.
The Blues dominated around the stoppages but could not shake the pesky Roos.
Jared Polec (25) was exceptional, while Bailey Scott (three goals) was lively up front.
North became much more physical after quarter-time, with Jed Anderson doing his best to rough up Patrick Cripps on-ball.
They will regret some costly mistakes though, including a horror free kick reversal by Jasper Pittard on the three-quarter time siren that cost Polec a shot at goal.
McGovern adds to Carlton's tall woes
Just when it looked like the Blues were getting some continuity in the forward line, they copped not one, but two setbacks. Harry McKay, fresh from three goals against Port Adelaide, was a late scratching after hyperextending his knee at training on Thursday. Then, after a quiet first half, Mitch McGovern watched the remainder of the match from the boundary line after straining his hamstring. It left Levi Casboult as the only recognised tall target inside 50.
Pittard's moment of madness
With North Melbourne on the charge late in the third quarter, Jasper Pittard had a moment he'd rather forget. With seconds ticking down and the Roos trailing by five points, Jared Polec took a mark 30m out directly from goal. He was about to put his team in front. As the siren sounded, Pittard rushed in and gave Marc Murphy a push to the ground, giving away a free kick. It was inexcusable and the sort of act that would infuriate coach Rhyce Shaw.
Welcome back, Bailey Scott
After winning the NAB AFL Rising Star nomination in his round one debut last year, Bailey Scott has hardly been sighted. He required surgery on his foot midway through last year and was off to a slow start again in 2020. But against the Blues, the son of former North premiership player Robert re-announced himself. In wet conditions, Scott was clean, taking his chances to finish with three goals. His first came from a clever around-the-corner finish, his second and third from clinical set shots. His performance was another reason for optimism for Kangaroo fans.
NORTH MELBOURNE 1.2 5.2 8.2 9.3 (57)
CARLTON 5.1 7.2 8.7 9.10 (64)
North Melbourne: Scott 3, Larkey 2, Brown, Hall, Pittard, Polec
Carlton: Cuningham 2, Kennedy 2, Newnes 2, Casboult, Gibbons, Walsh
North Melbourne: Polec, Anderson, McDonald, Hayden, Scott, Walker
Carlton: Kennedy, Murphy, Setterfield, Martin, Walsh, Pittonet
North Melbourne: Nil
Carlton: McKay (knee) replaced in selected side by Moore; McGovern (hamstring)