Magpies charge late to deny the Blues
CARLTON'S week of soul-searching, scrutiny and off-field drama has ended in heartbreak at the MCG with the Blues failing to overcome bitter AFL rivals Collingwood in an agonising 19-point loss.
In one of the most gripping contests of the season, the Blues led by 11 points midway through Saturday afternoon's final term and threatened to pull off a huge upset before the Magpies surged home to claim a 16.10 (106) to 13.9 (87) victory.
The result leaves the Blues stranded at the bottom of the ladder with just one win for 2019 and four from their past 40 games.
Rising to the occasion in front of 69,289 fans, Carlton came desperately close to delivering what would have been one of their greatest wins under coach Brendon Bolton.
The lead changed 13 times as the Blues, led magnificently by Patrick Cripps and Marc Murphy, went blow for blow with the premiership pacesetters.
With 35 disposals, 13 clearances and a goal, Cripps was enormous in the midfield to reinforce his status as arguably the best player in the AFL.
The Blues regained the ascendancy midway through the final term when Mitch McGovern booted a third straight Carlton goal.
But just as they did on Anzac Day against Essendon, the Magpies dug deep and proved too classy when it mattered.
Jack Crisp's long-range running goal pared back the lead, Callum Brown's soccer finish put the Pies in front by a point with five minutes left, and majors to Jordan De Goey, Tom Phillips and Will Hoskin-Elliott put the result beyond doubt.
The outcome will be hard to swallow for Carlton supporters, but after a week that had demanded a response the Blues provided an emphatic one.
A listless 58-point loss to North Melbourne had raised fresh questions about Carlton's rebuild, prompting Collingwood president Eddie McGuire to suggest the Blues should consider replacing Bolton with Hawthorn maestro Alastair Clarkson.
McGuire used a radio slot to suggest Blues president Mark LoGiudice should seek out four-time premiership coach Clarkson for breakfast, with a view to luring him to Princes Park.
Thankfully for McGuire, the Blues didn't have the last laugh.
Ruckman Brodie Grundy (49 hit-outs, 25 disposals, two goals) starred for the Magpies and was instrumental in a final term in which they dominated forward entries.
Adam Treloar, Steele Sidebottom and Tom Phillips were also crucial for the Magpies, who went down a man when Chris Mayne was knocked out in a contest late in the third quarter.