MELBOURNE has climbed to third on the ladder after recording its biggest victory in 25 years, obliterating an undermanned Carlton by 109 points on a dark and dreary Sunday afternoon at the MCG.
After leading by just three points at quarter-time, the Demons blew the game open with seven goals to two in the second quarter, sending them into the main break with a handy 31-point lead.
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The MCG's lights had already been turned on by that stage, but unfortunately there was no one at home for Carlton at the start of the third quarter, when Melbourne effectively killed the contest by piling on six unanswered goals in the opening 12 minutes.
After leading by 66 points at the final break, the Demons rammed on seven unanswered goals in the final term to romp to a 25.9 (159) to 7.8 (50) victory, their biggest win since they defeated Richmond by 121 points in round 21, 1993.
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Over the final three quarters, they outscored the Blues by 22 goals to four, which boosted their percentage to the extent they climbed from sixth at the start of the round to third.
However, the news was all bad for the Blues, who suffered their biggest defeat in Brendon Bolton's two-and-a-half year coaching reign (their previous biggest was 90 points against Port Adelaide in round five last year) and also conceded their highest score in that time (previous highest, 138, against Sydney in round 23 last year).
It was also the third time in 2018 – when their stated aim in the pre-season was to become more attacking – that they have scored under 60 points.
The Blues copped a fearful spray from Bolton at three-quarter time and their dark day could be soured further with captain Marc Murphy appearing to re-injure himself in his first game back from five weeks on the sidelines with plantar fasciitis.
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Murphy came off the ground late in the first term but reappeared at the 10-minute mark of the second term and played out the game. However, the on-baller was noticeably restricted and will presumably require scans next week to determine his immediate future.
Jake Melksham was outstanding for Melbourne with a career-high five goals, while he was well supported by Tom McDonald (four goals, all in the first half) and Alex Neal-Bullen (four).
WATCH: Melksham on the left
Nathan Jones (31 possessions, seven clearances and one goal) held sway through the midfield, where Clayton Oliver (26 possessions and five clearances) and Angus Brayshaw (24 possessions and 12 tackles) were also influential.
Jake Lever (27 possessions and eight marks) was back to his intercepting best in defence as he and Oscar McDonald (seven marks) monstered a Carlton attack desperately missing injured spearheads Levi Casboult and Charlie Curnow.
Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin was pleased his team had played out the game despite the lopsided margin in the second half.
"That's two weeks in a row now, and I think our leaders have been really instrumental in that, they've been driving a high standard around the footy club and just getting the basics right," he said.
WATCH: Fisher on the run
"A real focus in our game going into the last quarter was to get the basics right, continue to drive those and do the simple things well, and I thought the selflessness and team-first actions were outstanding. That's been a big part of our footy club for a while now.
"We're starting to see the rewards of that with shot selection and roles within games."
The Blues managed just eight marks inside their forward 50 compared to the Demons' 19.
Carlton coach Bolton said he had told his players after game they had to "confront" their huge loss and learn from it.
"There's a reality that their midfield is a bit bigger and stronger and more experienced. They kicked, I think, seven goals from centre square bounces, so they got on top inside there and also we didn't own space and defend it well enough behind that," Bolton said.
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"(From) between arc turnovers, I think, they have kicked in excess of 10 goals, so there are a couple of things there. It was our ball use, we kicked it long down the line too much, we needed to change angles, be a little bit bolder with the ball (and) not rush it back into their numbers also.
"And then on the turnover they hurt us with their spread."
Patrick Cripps (31 possessions and 10 clearances) was the shining light for Carlton, while Matthew Kreuzer never stopped trying despite lowering his colours to star Melbourne ruckman Max Gawn, and Sam Rowe held Dees spearhead Jesse Hogan to one late goal.
Carlton: Skipper Marc Murphy came from the ground late in the first quarter and soon headed into the Blues' rooms. He returned to the field at the 10-minute mark of the second quarter, but appeared restricted. Bolton said after the match Murphy had "a bit of a niggle" in his foot, but it was a good sign he had been able to finish the game. The Blues coach was not sure whether his captain would require scans. Zac Fisher had his left calf strapped in the first quarter but soon returned to the action. Bolton was confident Fisher had emerged from the game in reasonable shape.
Melbourne: Demons coach Simon Goodwin said his team had escaped with a clean bill of health.
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The Blues play Geelong at GMHBA Stadium next Saturday, having not played at the Cats' home ground since round 20, 1997. The Demons will host Adelaide next Sunday at TIO Traeger Park, where they have won just one of their four previous 'home' games.
CARLTON 3.1 5.3 7.6 7.8 (50)
MELBOURNE 3.4 10.4 18.6 25.9 (159)
Carlton: McKay 2, Lamb 2, Fisher, Murphy, Cripps
Melbourne: Melksham 5, T.McDonald 4, Neal-Bullen 4, Fritsch 2, Hannan 2, Viney, Petracca, Gawn, Harmes, Jones, Gawn, Oliver, Hogan
BEST Carlton: Cripps, Graham, Fisher, Murphy, Rowe
Melbourne: T.McDonald, Melksham, N Jones, Brayshaw, Gawn, Lever, Neal-Bullen
Carlton: Murphy (foot)
Umpires: Gavine, Hosking, Ryan
Official crowd: 44,142 at the MCG