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Seven sent: McKay’s bag leads Blues to thumping win over Freo

Football’s ghouls came to Marvel Stadium on Sunday. They were on the train home by half-time. Things would have been hurtling towards panic stations at Carlton had the Blues lost to middling Fremantle, but the crisis was averted and definitively so. Carlton were the better side pretty much from the outset, although first-quarter inaccuracy kept the Dockers in touch.

The pressure valve was released though after a dominant second quarter from David Teague’s men, which provided a glimpse of what is possible this year at Ikon Park. It took Fremantle until past the halfway point of the second term to register their first inside 50 for the quarter as Carlton controlled every line. By the long break the margin was 35, stretching beyond 10 goals during the third term before Freo belatedly stemmed the tide.

Liam Jones was like one of the towels you see advertised on a late-night infomercial, absorbing every drop spluttered by a sickly Dockers side. Lachie Fogarty – the lowest-profile of Carlton’s trio of trade and free agency recruits last year – was outstanding; a hive of activity both with and without the ball. Sam Walsh was typically excellent, while Patrick Cripps was battered but unbowed responding defiantly to those who questioned whether he could still star in the modern game.

Most damaging of all however was Harry McKay. Helped by his side’s territorial dominance, McKay monstered an undersized Fremantle backline, making mincemeat of Brennan Cox as he raced past his previous career-high of four goals en route to seven. Had it not been for sloppy finishing, he could well have become the second player to reach double figures at the ground for the weekend.

On point: Harry McKay.

On point: Harry McKay. Credit:Getty Images

For Fremantle, it was a harsh reality check. Without captain Nat Fyfe – missing through concussion – the Dockers looked rudderless. Not that it mattered in the grand scheme of the game, but they also ended the match down to just 21 fit men, with Hayden Young (hamstring) and Lachlan Schultz (head knock) both worse for wear. It’s doubtful Fremantle have played worse in Justin Longmuir’s still relatively short tenure.

WORTH THE WAIT

This moment had been a long time coming. After six seasons away in Adelaide, and then another in which Victorian Blues fans couldn’t watch in person, the faithful were made to wait an extra couple of weeks to see Eddie Betts in the flesh. But like the great showman he is, Betts – in his 200th match for Carlton – delivered the day’s piece de resistance when he dribbled home from deep in the forward pocket late in the second quarter. It was like watching a legendary rock band perform a favourite hit years after their peak, the notes sounding all the sweeter for the years in exile and the knowledge that this is the start of the farewell tour.

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