AFL

Blues hold on for eight-point victory

CARLTON 2.1 6.2 9.4 10.5 (65) FREMANTLE 1.2 3.9 4.10 7.15 (57)
Goals: Carlton: A Walker 2 J Garlett 2 M Robinson 2 E Betts J Waite K Simpson S Hampson. Fremantle: C Mayne H Ballantyne L McPharlin M Pavlich R Crowley S Hill Z Clarke.
Best: Carlton: K Simpson M Robinson A Walker L Henderson M Murphy. Fremantle: S Hill R Crowley L McPharlin P Duffield T Mzungu.
Umpires: Jeff Dalgleish, Dean Margetts, Luke Farmer.
Official Crowd: 38,847 at Subiaco.

Star Carlton midfielder Chris Judd had a rare quiet outing but it mattered little as the Blues regained their mojo with an eight-point AFL victory over a wayward Fremantle at Patersons Stadium last night.

Judd was held to just six possessions by Ryan Crowley in an arm-wrestle of a first half.

But the Blues iced the game with an inspired 10-minute burst to start the third quarter, piling on three unanswered goals to set up the 10.5 (65) to 7.15 (57) triumph in front of 38,847 fans.

Judd finished the match with just 17 disposals on a frustrating night.

But Gold Coast captain Gary Ablett was critical of Crowley's tagging tactics.

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"Crowley is a joke!" Ablett tweeted after the opening term.

"Play the ball, not the man! That's why (Cameron) Lingy was such a great player he ran both ways!"

The Dockers were left to rue their inaccurate display, with a glut of set shots failing to split the middle in perfect conditions.

It was only right at the death that the Dockers finally clicked, booting three quick goals to cut the gap from 31 points to the eventual eight-point margin.

The second term proved particularly costly for the Dockers, who booted 2.7.

Carlton suffered a shock 30-point loss to Essendon last week, but its triumph over Fremantle enhanced its premiership credentials.

Although Fremantle had its fair share of chances in the opening half, it barely got a sniff in the third term as Carlton set up a match-winning lead.

Fremantle forward Jack Anthony started the rot in the first minute of the quarter, with his decision to play on from beyond 50 metres proving disastrous.

Anthony turned the ball over after being mobbed by two Carlton players, with the Blues swiftly swinging the ball forward for Jeff Garlett to score.

Mitch Robinson and Andrew Walker followed up with goals as the Blues skipped away, with Fremantle unable to launch a meaningful fightback until right at the death.

Kade Simpson was pivotal for the Blues with 35 possessions, while Stephen Hill and defender Luke McPharlin, who kept Jarrad Waite to just one goal, were important for the home side.

Andrew Walker almost took a contender for mark of the year in the second quarter, soaring over ruckmen Zac Clarke and Kreuzer and taking an extra spring off their shoulders before fumbling the ball once all the hard work had been done.

Heath Scotland gave Nat Fyfe's injured left shoulder a good test early on with a few solid bumps, but it was during the second term that the Fremantle star appeared to struggle.

Fyfe grabbed his shoulder in pain after colliding with Kreuzer, and he again appeared in strife after bracing a fall to the ground just minutes later.

However, the silky-skilled midfielder managed to play out the match.

"I thought the third quarter really changed the game," Carlton coach Brett Ratten said.

"The stoppage work from our boys got the game back on track for us and gave us a bit of breathing space.

"To win with 15 shots - we thought it would be a low-shots game so we're really happy to grab the win."

Fremantle coach Ross Lyon lamented some costly turnovers from his side either side of half-time.

"We understand where we're at and we're improving, but I sort of walk away frustrated. I think the game was there to be won," Lyon said.

"There was a bit to like and a bit to dislike.

"I just think when we had the ascendancy in the second quarter, to kick 2.7 against what everyone believes to be a top-four team - you really need to put some scoreboard pressure on.

"We didn't do that."

AAP

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