Melbourne has outlasted a gallant but injury-hit Carlton to keep their undefeated season alive with a 26-point win.
The Blues suffered two injury blows early in the game with David Cuningham hurting his knee and Harry McKay his shoulder in the first quarter.
The Blues were brave throughout the first half with their tacking pressure, but the Demons experienced midfield brigade of Clayton Oliver, Christian Petracca and Max Gawn began to assert their dominance in the second quarter.
Oliver (29 disposals) finished the game with seven clearances and Petracca (27 touches) had eight inside 50s and eight clearances, while Gawn dominated the ruck battle with Marc Pittonet, easily winning the hit-outs 44 to 23.
When Tom McDonald goaled on the run for his second in a row and third major of the first half the Demons looked to be pulling away, but a Liam Stocker snap from 45m kept the Blues within 13 points at half time.
The Demons upped the pressure as the heavens opened after the main break and piled on three straight goals to start the second half.
A sore Harry McKay then kicked back-to-back goals to keep the Blues in touch, but a four-goal to two third term gave the Dees a comfortable 26-point lead at the final change.
Unlike last week’s final quarter fade out where they gave up six final quarter goals, the Blues stuck around to square the fourth quarter but the game petered out late as the Demons recorded their ninth straight win.
A possible shoulder injury to Coleman Medal frontrunner Harry McKay will give Blues fans cause for concern. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
BLUES DOWN EARLY
Carlton suffered two early injury blows with Cuningham going down with a knee in the opening minutes of the game.
He was subbed out for Michael Gibbons at the 12th minute mark and moments later big forward McKay went down to the rooms after a knock to the shoulder.
McKay re-emerged late in the first quarter but looked ginger and failed to have much of an impact in the first half.
The Coleman medal favourite came to life in the third quarter with two of his three goals but he was held to just eight touches by Steven May.
Young Dees forward Sam Weideman (13 disposals) made a promising return to footy in his first game for the year.
The 23-year-old spent time in the ruck and took a couple of big contested marks, but was unable to hit the scoreboard, missing his only set shot.
Christian Salem (29 disposals) was again dominant across halfback with three rebound 50s and the equal most disposals for the Demons.
BETTS SPECIAL DENIED
It took a score review and a spectacular basketball-style rejection from Ed Langdon to deny an Eddie Betts special from deep in the forward pocket.
The Blues livewire Eddie looked to have nailed a second freakish goal in the first half when he snapped from next to the point post, but Langdon leapt high to tip it over the line.
Betts was lively up forward during the first half, and pounced on an errant handball from Salem to put the Blues in front early in the first term, but failed to capitalise and missed several chances to finish with one goal and three behinds for the match.
DEMONS 4.3 8.6 12.9 13.16 94
BLUES 3.2 6.5 8.7 10.8 68
PAYNTER’S BEST DEMONS: Oliver, Salem, Petracca, Gawn, Brayshaw, Langdon. BLUES: Walsh, Cripps, Curnow, Saad
GOALS DEMONS: Fritsch 3, McDonald 3, Neal-Bullen 2, Hunt, Langdon, Oliver, Pickett, Spargo. BLUES: McKay 3, Betts, Casboult, Gibbons, Murphy, Owies, Pittonet, Stocker
INJURIES DEMONS: Nil. BLUES: Cuningham (knee), McKay (shoulder)
UMPIRES Donlon, Meredith, Dore.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
JACK PAYNTER’S VOTES
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