Blues finish strongly to upset Kangaroos | PHOTOS

CARLTON 4.3 9.7 10.13 16.13 (109)NORTH MELBOURNE 3.0 7.4 11.4 13.8 (86)

Goals:Carlton: L Henderson 6 J Waite 4 B Gibbs 2 C Judd C Wood C Yarran N Graham. North Melbourne: L Thomas 4 B Cunnington 2 B Harvey 2 L Greenwood 2 D Petrie J Ziebell N Dal Santo.

BEST: Carlton: Simpson, Waite, Henderson, Murphy, Gibbs. North Melbourne: Greenwood, McDonald, Swallow, Dal Santo, Thomas.

Umpires: Justin Schmitt, Troy Pannell, Scott Jeffery.

Injuries:Carlton: A Everitt (knee) T Menzel (knee) B McLean (stomach virus, replaced in selected side by J Waite). North Melbourne: B Brown (finger, replaced in selected side by M Daw).

Reports: Carlton: M Robinson (Carlton) for rough conduct on L Adams (North Melbourne) in first quarter.

Official Crowd: 36,689 at Etihad Stadium.

For those who wondered whether Mick Malthouse would find a reason to crack a smile this week, the answer came quickly. 

As Carlton and North Melbourne warmed up at Etihad Stadium on Friday night, Malthouse and counterpart Brad Scott, one of his former assistants, had a good old chuckle together.

After a searching week on and off the field for Malthouse, it was a much-needed light moment. There would be an even greater smile to come, though, as the Blues stormed to a shock 23-point win, although there were fears Troy Menzel may have seriously hurt his knee after landing awkwardly in a marking contest.

Malthouse refused to speculate whether Menzel had ruptured his ligament again. Menzel had undergone LARS surgery when he was 16.

"Anyone who has hurt a knee, I'm not speculating on what they have got," Malthouse said.

"I don't know. The doctors don't know. They can have their ideas, but until it is confirmed there is no point speculating." 

Just when some people were starting to think the Kangaroos could play a major role in September, that prognosis was jolted by a stinging loss.

The Kangaroos’ willingness to handball, particularly through dangerous situations, was called into question by an an aggressive and disciplined Carlton unit led by skipper Marc Murphy, Chris Judd, Bryce Gibbs, Kade Simpson and marking forwards Lachie Henderson and the recalled Jarrad Waite.

Ruckman Cameron Wood, in his first senior match of the season, was also surprisingly effective against Todd Goldstein, on a night the Kangaroos tainted their hopes of a top-four berth with lacklustre effort and a propensity to find trouble through their sloppy use of the ball.

Carlton president Mark LoGiudice said before the match that he wanted Judd to play on next year. And it was easy to see why in the second term when the dual Brownlow medallist dominated with an early burst, in conjunction with Waite, the whipping boy of most Carlton supporters.

A weaving Waite found Judd with a crisp handball, allowing the former skipper to find space and goal, while a minute later it was Judd who hit a leading Waite on the lead. Waite, though, would miss the set shot. 

But Waite was front and centre four minutes later when he hauled in a strong pack mark and converted.

While Levi Casboult had a relatively quiet evening, Waite, off-contract at the end of this season, more than made up for this and even took a crucial mark deep in defence late in the final term. Not only that, but he dashed down the ground and collected the ball to kick what would prove to be a match-winning goal. It was a stunning return.

"I hope the process is in place now that Jarrad can be a good contributor for us," Malthouse said. 

Having banished the memory of a shock loss to the Brisbane Lions last month with three straight wins, including one over defending premier Hawthorn, the Kangaroos were expected to canter to victory with a key test against Geelong to come after next weekend’s rest.

Perhaps thoughts of an impending rest were a problem early, leading to a drop in intensity and concentration. One thing not in doubt, though, was the Kangaroos’ woeful skills for much of the first half. Carlton’s pressure and workrate was good, particularly through the midfield, but the Kangaroos were their own worst enemy in terms of turnovers, despite having a 31-23 advantage in inside-50s. Prime movers Brent Harvey and Drew Petrie were quiet, while Zach Tuohy managed to curb a threatening Lindsay Thomas.

Where the Kangaroos had been the toughest team to score against once inside-50, on this night the Blues regularly found space.

That they took control largely without Andrejs Everitt, one of their best players this season but subbed off with a knee problem early in the second term, made it even more impressive.

Trailing by 15 points at half-time, the Kangaroos were expected to absorb the pressure and lift. That just didn’t happen. Ben Cunnington and Levi Greenwood would kick the opening two goals, but the Blues then held on to the ball and steadied, particularly when Waite marked strongly on the lead and converted from 50metres.

If there is one statistic that  resurfaces when the Kangaroos struggle, it’s that they concede 100 uncontested marks. The Blues would finish with 110.

Henderson was also superb inside attacking 50 and kicked four of the Blues’ six goals in the final term, begging the ‘‘what if’’ question had he and Waite been able to perform on a consistent basis.

Carlton’s Mitch Robinson was reported for rough conduct in the first term for what appeared to be a late bump on Leigh Adams.

Malthouse was in no mood to relive the events of a tumultuous week where it emerged he had been involved in a verbal spat with Channel Seven commentator Cameron Ling and his overall dealings with the football media had been questioned.

"Do I need to get to confession or something? Did I murder someone?" Malthouse asked as he left the press conference.  

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