AFL NAB Challenge: Baby Blues pip Kangaroos

IT WAS a tale of the new recruits in Carlton's seven-point Nab Challenge win over North Melbourne, with Nick Dal Santo and Andrejs Everitt putting on a clinic at Eureka Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Blues secured the 1.14.7 (100) to 14.9 (93) victory via way of a four-goal third-quarter blitzkrieg that included a super-goal courtesy of running defender Zach Tuohy, but the 7800 fans who turned out to watch the match were treated to an unexpected thriller.

North Melbourne finished the fourth quarter full of running and reduced the margin to just one-point in the dying minutes courtesy of a Brent Harvey major from the 50-metre line that could have counted for nine points.

Had the major been counted as a super goal it would have put the Roos three points in front with less than two minutes of play left.

Fittingly, ex-Collingwood ruckman Cameron Wood put the Blues virtually out of reach with a goal in the final 60 seconds. 

Not to be outdone though, it was Dal Santo with 29 touches and Everitt with three first-half goals that stole the show.

While Dal Santo finished the match as one of the best players on the ground in his first match as a Roo, Everitt overshadowed Dale Thomas' late withdrawal with 17 disposals and several goal-saving marks while playing in defence and on the wing.

The Blues opened up a seven-point lead after the first term and pressed their advantage to 21 points at half-time before seemingly putting the Roos to the sword early in the third term.

North Melbourne's senior players Ryan Bastinac (31 touches), Jack Ziebell (29) and father-son draftee Luke McDonald (22) kept the side in the game for the first three quarters before it finally found its stride in the last 30 minutes of play.

The Roos were often blistering with their run through the centre of the ground and by the end of the game had out-possessed Carlton by a whopping 75 possessions,  indicating that the Blues are yet to find a permanent solution to their inability to find the football.

Carlton director of coaching Rob Wiley hinted earlier this month that alterations had been made to Mick Malthouse's boundary line game plan, but the Blues stayed true to fashion and played a majority of the match around the edges of the ground.

A dogged Brock McLean shone for the Carlton, picking up 21 disposals and a goal, while Tom Bell imposed himself on the contest with 17 disposals and two goals.

And while he didn't have as much of an impact as North Melbourne's McDonald, Carlton's first round draft pick Patrick Cripps finished the match with 12 disposals in an encouraging display.

The match was played at a frenetic pace and was often bruising around the contests, but remarkably, both sides left the field with clean bills of health.

Hometown hero Drew Petrie delighted fans with four-goals, six marks and 16 disposals while playing in the traditional full-forward role.

Petrie almost proved to be the saving grace for the North Melbourne but fumbled several marks at critical stages in the fourth quarter.

North Melbourne's other multiple goal kickers were Aaron Black, Lindsay Thomas and Harvey - all of whom finished with two majors.

Pint sized midfielder David Ellard kicked two second-half goals for Carlton, while young gun Troy Menzel also kicked two majors. 

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