Alex Neal-Bullen celebrates a goal for the Demons. Picture: Getty Images
Alex Neal-Bullen celebrates a goal for the Demons. Picture: Getty Images

Demons deliver Blues nightmare

TEN years ago Carlton went fishing and landed themselves a whopper in Chris Judd.

Steve Silvagni, time to get the big rod and reel out again.

On Sunday at the MCG the Demons gave Carlton a prime example of the kind of team they eventually want to be.

Talent across every line, pyrotechnic ball movement, a commanding ruckman and plenty of inside grunt.

All of it added up to the kind of no-fuss obliteration of a rival that Simon Goodwin dreams about when he wakes up on game morning.

The Demons have now won 14 straight quarters after a 109-point belting that also saw Jack Viney make a quiet but trouble-free return.

The temptation would be to declare them a flag contender, but instead we will wait for next week's mid-season litmus test against Adelaide.

Apart from their scalp of North Melbourne, the other five wins so far have come against teams currently 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th on the ladder.

Brendon Bolton sprayed his players at three-quarter time. Picture: Michael Klein
Brendon Bolton sprayed his players at three-quarter time. Picture: Michael Klein

Carlton, on the other hand, were diabolical.

Patrick Cripps aside, the most energetic effort all day from someone in Navy Blue was coach Brendon Bolton as he sprayed his players at three-quarter time.

The gradual improvements were there to see; Zac Fisher's raking left foot, Harry McKay's two first-term goals, another debut in key forward Patrick Kerr.

Yet as Marc Murphy hobbled about on his sore foot and Cripps thrived as a power-marking forward, the contrast in pure A-grade talent was extreme.

They might have Cripps and Charlie Curnow, absent on Sunday, but it is hard not to think the Blues are an eternity from finals success.

Carlton simply must go all out to secure another midfielder or ball-winning half-forward to ease the burden on Cripps and the band of kids.

Those kids continue to provide little cameos but they need established stars around them to flourish and Carlton's only star on Sunday was Cripps.

Around him were some ageing veterans, some solid foot soldiers (Sam Kerridge, Nick Graham), and a dozen kids who still need 50 more games until they mature.

Already football boss Andrew McKay has spoken of the club's desire to fill the gaping hole in its list demographic.

The names are well known - Andrew Gaff, Rory Sloane, Luke Dahlhaus, Mitch Wallis - as far as free agency midfielders go.

No point giving up Bryce Gibbs to secure extra picks just to give them up again for the next Bryce Gibbs-lookalike, so the free agency route holds so much more appeal.

Cameron O’Shea is tackled on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images
Cameron O’Shea is tackled on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images

The challenge now is for Carlton to secure enough late-season wins that a player can do what Judd did back then and believe the Blues can open their premiership window quickly.

Cripps is contracted until 2019 and seems happy but he needs to see finals in the future too if the Blues are to sign him up well past free agency.

Sunday's clash started with a bang and ended in a whimper.

Bernie Vince laid Dale Thomas on his back with an early bump, Jed Lamb kicked an early goal as he tagged Michael Hibberd and McKay's second goal on quarter time had the Blues in it.

 

The resistance barely lasted a minute of the second quarter, as Jack Viney and Christian Petracca goaled early to end the contest.

Melbourne kicked seven second-term goals, six in 12 minutes in the third term (racing the ball from end to end with ease) then seven again to Carlton's two points in the final term.

Jake Melksham (five goals, three goal assists), Tom McDonald (four goals), and Alex Neal-Bullen (four goals) did as they pleased as the Demons feasted on a live kill.

Max Gawn (44 hit-outs) not only dominated in-form ruckman Matthew Kreuzer, he surged forward to kick goals at will.

The midfield perfectly spread the load in close, as Angus Brayshaw, Nathan Jones, James Harmes, Clayton Oliver and Christian Salem did as they pleased.

Jesse Hogan, Christian Petracca and Tom McDonald celebrate a goal on Sunday. Picture: AAP Images
Jesse Hogan, Christian Petracca and Tom McDonald celebrate a goal on Sunday. Picture: AAP Images

Once upon a time Melbourne fans would have believed this was about as good as it gets.

This time the club's four-match winning streak must be a foundation for something more meaningful rather than a pleasant Sunday afternoon.

VOTES

3. Jake Melksham

2. Max Gawn

1. Patrick Cripps

BEST

CARLTON: Cripps, Kerridge, Graham, Jones, Fisher

MELBOURNE Melksham, Gawn, McDonald, Jones, Neal-Bullen, Petracca, Brayshaw



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