Carlton defender Chris Yarran faces certain AFL suspension after his punch left Essendon opponent Paul Chapman with stitches above his right eye.
The running battle between the pair in the opening term is the main talking point out of Essendon’s 21-point win on Saturday at the MCG.
Essendon withstood a late Carlton fightback to win 16.9 (105) to 11.18 (84).
As Yarran and Chapman scuffled early in the opening term, a left jab from the Blues backman landed cleanly.
The veteran forward left the field shortly after with blood streaming down his face.
Chapman needed a concussion test and was back on the field in the second term.
There were no other reports, but Monday’s match review panel will ban Yarran.
“It was just one of those things on the field – a bit of push and shove and (it) got a little bit angry,” Chapman told Triple M.
“I don’t know how (he) got me or whether he threw one, but I just felt one on the head.”
Yarran is Aboriginal and Chapman was clearly angry when asked what had triggered the scuffle.
“I’ve heard a little rumour that I’ve been saying things about people’s race or colour or whatever,” Chapman said.
“That’s ludicrous – I wouldn’t mind knowing who’s brought that out and saying that stuff, because that’s just not right and not the sort of person I am.
“It’s a little bit disappointing … what happened, happened.”
Yarran is not known as a hothead, and Blues coach Mick Malthouse said the defender was at a loss to explain why he punched Chapman.
“Look, it’s quite uncharacteristic – he just said things happen,” Malthouse said.
“He said he didn’t know why, how and that’s the way it is.
“He said, ‘I can’t believe I would have even …’.
“It certainly wasn’t preconceived and at the end of it, he was really still staggered how things happened.”
Essendon captain Jobe Watson was clearly best afield, with 36 disposals as the Bombers held on for their second win.
After trailing by 41 points early in the last term, the Blues rallied to reduce the margin to 14 with three minutes left.
But 100-gamer Ben Howlett kicked his third goal to seal the win.
Adam Cooney injured his hamstring in the last term and Essendon coach James Hird said the veteran utility would probably miss three weeks.
While the Blues are now 0-3, it was a much better performance.
Apart from having four more scoring shots in a scrappy game, they won the clearances by a whopping 53-29.
But Essendon dominated uncontested possessions 261-178.