John Barker has recorded his first win as an AFL coach with Carlton stunning Port Adelaide by four points in a nailbiter on Saturday at the MCG.
Sam Docherty took a saving mark in his defensive 50 as the Power launched a desperate last-minute raid, with the Blues hanging on for a thrilling 17.8 (110) to 16.10 (106) win.
Port were left to rue a controversial umpiring decision as the clock wound down, with Sam Colquhoun denied a set shot at goal after he was denied a mark. Play stopped as he went back to take his shot but one umpire had called play on believing the ball had been touched. Carlton were able to clear the ball from danger from the resultant ball up.
Young Blues’ star Patrick Cripps was outstanding with 31 possessions and 11 tackles in a gutsy, much-improved tackling performance in Barker’s third game in charge.
Travis Boak nearly carried his side to a come-from-behind win with a huge final term and finished with 27 touches, while Chad Wingard kicked five goals.
Earlier, Port were off to a flyer with the first two goals of the game but Marc Murphy was impressive early with 10 first-quarter disposals as Carlton narrowed the margin to a point at the first break.
The Blues’ willingness to play on and take risks under Barker was evident in the second term as his side slammed through five unanswered goals to storm to a 23-point lead.
Cripps was instrumental in the surge, with Andrew Carrazzo also influential as Carlton’s midfield were able to get on top.
Play was stopped at one point when umpire Brendan Hosking wrote himself into football folklore by marking Hamish Hartlett’s free kick.
The Power needed a lift from their onball brigade and they received it, with Ollie Wines, Robbie Gray and Hartlett important as Port closed the gap to four points at halftime.
The game ended early for Gray, however, after he was concussed in a Bryce Gibbs tackle shortly before the break and taken from the field on a stretcher.
Gray’s absence was felt by the visitors, who conceded the first three goals of the third quarter.
Again, Port responded with goals to Colquhoun and Wingard, but the Blues snatched back the momentum to hold a 23-point lead at the last break.
Troy Menzel pushed the lead out to 29 points with the first goal of the final term but Port dug deep to launch another assault that so nearly paid dividends but for some late heroics from the Blues.