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Pies no match for Blues

CARLTON has confirmed its rise as a genuine premiership contender with a comprehensive 60-point victory over Collingwood at the MCG on Friday night.

Eddie Betts booted five goals as the Blues used a five-goal spurt in the third quarter to set up their 18.14 (122) to 9.8 (62) victory, their first against the Magpies in six matches.

Watch the highlights of Collingwood's clash with the Blues here.

Carlton moved to 3-0 with the result, the first time the Blues have won their opening three games of the season since 1995, the year of their most recent premiership.

Carlton led for the entire night, and only gained momentum as the game wore on as it exploited Collingwood's lack of bench flexibility after first-half injuries to Ben Reid and Luke Ball.

With high rotations a crucial factor so early in the season, Collingwood's options were limited early in the game, but coach Nathan Buckley refused to admit that the injuries had any bearing on the final result.

"It was nothing to do with injuries, it was just the run of the game," Buckley said of the result.

"We were well beaten in every facet by a side that was harder, more skillful, played as a team, and were more committed to the contest."

View the best photos from the match here.

Reid was substituted off in the second quarter after injuring his left quad, while Ball looked to have done serious damage to himself when he clutched his right knee in the first term.

The hard-nut midfielder returned to the game in obvious discomfort but left again when the pain became too much.

It was not hard to find where Carlton beat Collingwood, with a complete dominance in the midfield.

Ball's absence from the Magpies' supposedly deep midfield stocks was a significant blow. He had extracted four clearances, which remained the most of any Collingwood player despite missing the entire second half and playing the second quarter on one leg.

Ball's midfield adversaries Chris Judd, Marc Murphy and Andrew Carrazzo won the ball in heavy traffic and got it out time and time again. The trio had 30 clearances and over 100 possessions between them, with Judd's long handballing under pressure showing up the Magpies for their lack of spread.

Click here to listen to Nick Maxwell's take on the loss.

Scott Pendlebury had one of his quieter games in recent years, and at one stage was forced to the unfamiliar role of half-back after exerting minimal influence in the middle. Dane Swan fared better than Pendlebury on the stats sheet but even his performance was below his customary output.

Blues coach Brett Ratten praised his midfield's ability to get on top of Collingwood's.

"From the team's point of view I thought it was an eight out of 10. Our pressure was fantastic and we really dominated the stoppages to win by plus-20 by the end of the game," he said.

"We allowed our forwards to get into the game and gave them great opportunity. I thought it was brilliant from that point of view, but there were areas we still need to improve on."

The hard work of Carlton's onballers was converted to constant supply for their forwards. Small men Eddie Betts (five goals) and Jeff Garlett (two) ran opponents Harry O'Brien and Alan Toovey off their feet, while Jarrad Waite kicked three goals.

Carlton                7.1    9.7    15.11    18.14 (122)
Collingwood        3.2    6.3    8.6        9.8  (62)


GOALS
Carlton: Betts 5, Waite 3, Garlett 2, Murphy 2, Hampson 2, Tuohy, Carrazzo, Yarran, Judd
Collingwood: Sidebottom 2, Cloke, Fasolo, Beams, Goldsack, Dawes, Shaw, Thomas

BEST
Carlton: Judd, Murphy, Kreuzer, Carrazzo, Betts, Waite, Scotland
Collingwood: Sidebottom, Swan, Shaw

INJURIES
Carlton: Nil
Collingwood: Reid (quad), Ball (knee)

SUBSTITUTES
Carlton: Kane Lucas replaced by Nick Duigan in the fourth quarter.
Collingwood: Ben Reid (quad) replaced by Ben Sinclair in the second quarter.

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Donlon, Farmer, Meredith

Official crowd: 84,259 at the MCG

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the club.