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North Melbourne are getting closer to avoiding a last-place finish after blowing Carlton away by 39 points at Marvel Stadium.
After not winning until Round 9, the Kangaroos have drawn level on 18 points with 17th-placed Hawthorn after putting away the dismal Blues at Marvel Stadium on Saturday.
North trailed by two points at halftime but blew the game open with seven goals to none in the third quarter as full-forward Nick Larkey starred to finish with a career-best seven-goal haul.
Larkey was so dominant it forced Carlton to move star defender Jacob Weitering into the Blues’ forward line in the last quarter.
Taking a match-winning 38-point lead into the final term, the Kangaroos ran out winners 18.8 (116) to 11.11 (77) to record their highest score since Round 9, 2019.
It was their first win in Victoria since Round 1, 2020 with all other victories since coming in Queensland, Tasmania and Perth.
Only percentage keeps North (4-13-1) on the bottom-of-the-ladder after the wooden spoon appeared a mere formality for the Kangaroos a month ago.
“I probably don’t need a carrot not to win the wooden spoon. I’m pretty motivated when it comes to that and I think our players are, too,” North coach David Noble said.
“There’s no doubt it took us a while to get going, but it was a whole new game plan for us (to learn).
“We couldn’t get our best team together until the back half of the year but what it allowed us to do is grow those young guys.”
After missing last week’s loss against Essendon, veteran midfielder Ben Cunnington made a stunning return, and with Jy Simpkin, was crucial in North winning the clearances 42-27.
Tarryn Thomas continued his emergence with a career-best four goals.
As memorable as the win was for North, the result extinguishes any faint hope Carlton (7-11) had of making finals for the first time since 2013.
The Blues struggled without Coleman Medal leader Harry McKay, who withdrew from the match on Friday due to a toe injury.
Carlton coach David Teague conceded it was the Blues’ worst performance of the season.
“North Melbourne’s ball use was better than ours and their ability to win the ball back and go through us was superior,” he said.
“In the first quarter our effort and intent was there, we just didn’t finish the work in front of goal and inside-50.”
Adding further insult to the dispiriting effort was high-priced recruit Zac Williams (hamstring) hobbled off and was subbed out for veteran Marc Murphy, who played his 297th career game.
There were some brief highlights for the Blues, with Ed Curnow kicking the best goal of his career in his 200th game and emerging ruckman Tom De Koning bringing down a mark-of-the-year contender.
Veteran forward Eddie Betts spent almost ten minutes being assessed in the rooms after falling heavily but was able to play out the game.