Carlton have overcome Essendon by 15 points after a dour struggle at the MCG, but the win came at a cost with young star Jacob Weitering suffering a shoulder injury.
The scrappy, low-scoring affair on Sunday came to life in the final term, the Blues kicking four unanswered goals to secure a 10.12 (72) to 8.9 (57) win in front of 43,827 fans.
Weitering, Carlton’s top overall draft pick last year, desperately lunged for a loose ball in the goal square early in the second quarter and was met solidly by Bombers forward Mitch Brown.
The 18-year-old lay on the MCG turf for several minutes before he was helped from the ground, club officials later confirming he had suffered a subluxation of the shoulder and a possible concussion.
The poor standard of the contest reflected the status of the two combatants – the Bombers decimated by anti-doping suspensions and the Blues not far into a major list overhaul.
In dry conditions, neither side could conjure a goal from the 26th minute of the first quarter until the 14th minute of the third term.
Essendon managed just one goal in the first half but piled on three in quick succession to take the lead briefly approaching three-quarter time before Carlton restored a seven-point advantage at the last change.
Blues skipper Marc Murphy (26 possessions) sparked the decisive run of four goals with his only major of the day.
Dale Thomas was outstanding for Carlton with 31 possessions and a goal, with Bryce Gibbs (32 disposals, one goal) and Ed Curnow (26 touches) also important.
Adam Cooney impressed for Essendon with 28 touches, while Darcy Parish and Mitch Brown kicked two goals each.
Carlton young gun Patrick Cripps was a late withdrawal from the Blues’ side, the 21-year-old suffering calf tightness.