A week after a heartbreaking after-the-siren defeat to Port Adelaide, Carlton have hung on to claim a narrow seven-point AFL win over North Melbourne.
The Blues held their nerve against an undermanned but desperate Kangaroos to secure a 9.10 (64) to 9.3 (57) win on Saturday afternoon at a rain-lashed Gabba.
Blues coach David Teague was full of praise as his team, having raced to a 23-point lead at the end of the first quarter, kept their nerve when the Kangaroos mounted a second-half comeback.
“We talked about it,” Teague said of last weekend’s defeat to the Power.
“We definitely used it as a learning opportunity … to the players’ credit, they nailed it pretty well in the last three or four minutes.”
Matthew Kennedy was arguably best on ground for the Blues with two goals and 20 disposals, while Jack Newnes and David Cuningham also had two majors for Carlton.
Bailey Scott kicked a game-high three goals for North, who lost their sixth match in a row.
While Saturday’s loss was an improved showing on last weekend’s 54-point hiding by Richmond, it still left coach Rhyce Shaw frustrated.
Shaw was critical of his team’s poor start, with Carlton kicking five goals in the opening term.
He also lamented Jasper Pittard’s decision to knock over Marc Murphy after Jared Polec had taken a mark inside 50 on the three-quarter time siren.
Trailing by just five at the time, Polec could have put the Kangaroos ahead heading into the final quarter but Pittard’s ill discipline resulted in a free-kick to Murphy and the moment was lost.
“I consider us a really hard-working side and really disciplined, but that just shows a lack of discipline in that moment and it’s cost us,” Shaw said.
“He was spoken to. We’ll just leave it at that.
“We needed to get on with the game. We were still behind, so we needed to win the game.”
Despite having several senior players still sidelined due to injury, Shaw could see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Cameron Zurhaar returned from a calf injury, while Kyron Hayden kept Blues goalsneak Eddie Betts quiet despite copping a knock to his left knee in the second quarter.
“Kyron showed his great commitment to the club last week and he did it again,” Shaw said.
“Eddie had five touches and I know Eddie is an old man now but he’s a really dangerous player. He (Hayden) did a great job again.”
Carlton had concerns too with Mitch McGovern not featuring in the second half due to what Teague described as “hamstring tightness”, while Harry McKay was a late withdrawal with a knee injury.
The Blues travel west to face Hawthorn on Friday in Perth while North Melbourne take on winless Adelaide next Saturday at Metricon Stadium.