Blues burst Bombers' bubble in big AFL win

Carlton have surged to second on the ladder and underlined their AFL premiership credentials with a 26-point triumph over traditional rivals Essendon.

The Blues' efficiency in attack - and their opponents' wastefulness - told the story of a 15.6 (96) to 9.16 (70) victory at the MCG on Sunday night.

Tom De Koning shone in the ruck and Elijah Hollands kicked a career-best three goals as Carlton (9-4) banked a third straight win and leapfrogged the Bombers (8-4-1) on the table.

The important result may have come at some cost, with Harry McKay to undergo further assessment after hurting his left shoulder in a final-quarter marking contest with brother Ben McKay.

De Koning (23 disposals), George Hewett (23), Sam Walsh (22) and Nic Newman (21) were all busy for Carlton, who spread the workload in a strong team display.

Charlie Curnow, Zac Williams and Alex Cincotta kicked two goals each.

Elijah Hollands.
Despite appearances, Elijah Hollands was instrumental for the Blues with three goals. (Morgan Hancock/AAP PHOTOS)

Cincotta restricted Essendon skipper Zach Merrett (21 touches) in an important tagging role, while Jacob Weitering and McGovern stood tall in the back-line.

The Blues were victorious despite Essendon's territorial dominance, which gave the Bombers a 60-40 advantage in forward entries.

Up by 32 points at halftime, Carlton saw their lead cut to 15 as the Bombers peppered the goals in the third quarter and added 3.6 to 1.1 for the term.

But the Blues reset and shut the gate with four quick goals in the opening 11 minutes of the last quarter.

"For the boys to be able to come out of three-quarter time and do what they did shows the belief that's growing within this team," Carlton coach Michael Voss said.

"For the last three weeks we've played against some quality opposition and we've run out the games really strong.

"To beat us you've got to go four quarters and that's something we've had to develop as a football team."

Nic Martin (26 disposals), Sam Durahm (21) and Archie Perkins (21) fought hard for Essendon, with Martin and Matt Guelfi kicking two goals each.

But Will Setterfield was substituted off with a knee injury and the Bombers failed to cash in on the weight of supply in attack.

"We certainly dominated parts without converting on the scoreboard," Essendon coach Brad Scott said.

"You don't need me to reel off all the stats ... some of the numbers I've never seen in a loss, but that's on us.

"That's two weeks in a row we've been really poor converting our opportunities forward of centre, so we've got a lot of work to do on that."

With the match billed as the biggest Essendon-Carlton clash in more than a decade, a huge build-up ensured a monster crowd of 88,510 was on hand.

It was the second-highest attendance in history for a home-and-away match between the two old enemies.

But the contest didn't live up to the hype as Carlton gained the early ascendancyand were only briefly challenged when the Bombers pressed during the third quarter.

harry and Ben McKay jostling.
Harry McKay (L) took bragging rights over brother Ben (R). (Morgan Hancock/AAP PHOTOS)

There was a sense of theatre when Essendon defender Ben McKay went directly to mark Carlton spearhead Harry McKay at the opening bounce in the brothers' first head-to-head meeting at AFL level.

Harry kicked an early goal when Ben was penalised for holding in a marking contest, but couldn't add to his tally and was held to just eight disposals.