A SHARP Carlton outfit has cruised to a 50-point win over North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium.
The Blues kicked five consecutive goals (and seven in total) in the third term as North unravelled, best typified by Nick Larkey's bizarre decision to tunnel opponent Lewis Young in the 17.12 (114) to 10.4 (64) result.
BLUES v KANGAROOS Full match coverage and stats
The Roo will likely come under MRO scrutiny for the action, the ensuing tussle resulting in a 100m penalty, an 11th career goal to key back Jacob Weitering, a new jumper for Larkey and a 45-point lead for the Blues.
Debutant Jack Carroll had got the Blues off to a flying start, kicking the opening goal of the match with his first kick.
Carlton's pace and ability to link by hand and foot troubled North Melbourne, particularly as play began to open up in the first quarter, and the Blues jumped to a 17-point lead at quarter-time.
Pleasingly for the 17th-placed Kangaroos, bullocking Cam Zurhaar sprang to life with two of the Roos' quick three goals to open the second term.
Every time the Blues looked like breaking clear – particularly through Harry McKay's contested marking – the Roos would fight back, matching them in inside 50s and around the ground and kicking five goals to three in the second.
But that was the highlight for North, which fell away badly in the second half.
Patrick Cripps (35 disposals, 10 clearances) was outstanding through the middle of the ground, McKay (four goals) looked a foot taller than his opponents at times, while Adam Saad (25 disposals) and Sam Docherty (33) were superb off half-back.
Bailey Scott (23 disposals) and Jy Simpkin (22) found their fair share of the ball, Larkey booted three and Paul Curtis showed some promising signs in attack.
Both sides made late changes, with debutant Miller Bergman replacing Aidan Corr (health and safety protocols), while Zac Williams (Achilles) was replaced by Lachie Plowman. Bergman's night finished early with a right shoulder injury.
Third-quarter Blues banished
The premiership quarter has haunted Carlton this year, averaging nearly five goals against over its six matches in 2022. But the Blues managed to flip the script against North Melbourne, piling on seven majors to power away from the Roos in a fast-paced, devastating burst.
More than a game
The human side of football is often forgotten in the hustle and bustle of results and analysis, but it was on show in during the pre-game warm-up. Carlton defender Sam Docherty and North Melbourne midfielder Ben Cunnington – who have both undergone multiple bouts of testicular cancer – shared a touching pre-match embrace.
The centre clearances was where most of the damage was done in the game, with Carlton winning that particular stat 22-8. The Blues topped the overall clearance count by 11, despite North Melbourne dominating hitouts 56-30. Matt Kennedy had a game-high 11 clearances, while Cripps wasn’t far behind with 10.
CARLTON 5.2 8.5 15.8 17.12 (114)
NORTH MELBOURNE 2.3 7.3 9.4 10.4 (64)
Carlton: McKay 4, Curnow 3, Owies 2, Martin 2, Carroll, Walsh, Newnes, Cerra, Weitering, Cripps
North Melbourne: Larkey 3, Zurhaar 2, Coleman-Jones, Davies-Uniacke, Mahony, Curtis, Greenwood
Carlton: Cripps, Saad, Walsh, McKay, Docherty, Martin
North Melbourne: Simpkin, Horne-Francis, Goldstein, Larkey, Scott
Carlton: Stocker (left shoulder)
North Melbourne: Bergman (right shoulder)
Carlton: Zac Williams (Achilles) replaced in selected side by Lachie Plowman
North Melbourne: Aidan Corr (health and safety protocols) replaced in selected side by Miller Bergman
Carlton: Matt Cottrell (replaced Stocker in the fourth quarter)
North Melbourne: Atu Bosenavulagi (replaced Bergman in the second quarter)
Crowd: 40,129 at Marvel Stadium