Patrick Cripps made another convincing case for the AFL Rising Star award, starring in Carlton’s 23-point win over Melbourne.
Cripps had 26 possessions and kicked a crucial goal in the last quarter as the Blues held off Melbourne’s second-half rally, winning 12.6 (78) to 7.13 (55).
It means Carlton handed last place on the ladder to Brisbane with two games left.
The main point of interest in this match between 14th and last on the ladder was a direct Rising Star comparison between Cripps and Melbourne key forward Jesse Hogan.
Cripps or Hogan should win the award early next month.
As Cripps dominated again through the midfield, Hogan was unable to hold onto his marks when the game was up for grabs early in the last quarter.
Hogan finished with five marks and kicked two behinds.
Cripps featured in the highlight of the match, tearing through the midfield in the second term and dishing off to Matthew Kreuzer, who kicked a booming goal on the run.
But after a woeful first half – they only laid five tackles in the first quarter – Melbourne rallied impressively and reduced the margin to 17 points early in the last quarter.
Cripps marked and goaled midway through the last quarter and that was enough, with the two teams only kicking a goal apiece for the term.
The Blues lost captain Marc Murphy in the third term with a dislocated shoulder and will miss the rest of the season.
Kreuzer also limped off in the last quarter, apparently with cramp.
Kreuzer was outstanding in the first half, again raising the question of how much better the Blues would have been in the last two seasons if he had not missed so many games with a foot injury.
Andrew Walker kicked four goals for Carlton, while defender Tom McDonald was Melbourne’s best.
The Demons are one short of their goal of seven wins this season and are unlikely to beat Fremantle in Perth next week.
That leaves GWS in the last round at Etihad Stadium, where Melbourne have not won since 2007.