Essendon held off a surprise Carlton comeback to win their AFL match by 21 points on Saturday at the MCG.
Carlton defender Chris Yarran faces certain suspension for a punch that forced Paul Chapman from the field in the first quarter of the match, which Essendon won 16.9 (105) to 11.18 (84).
Trailling by 36 points at three-quarter time, the Blues reduced the margin to 14 points with less than three minutes left.
But a goal from Ben Howlett in his 100th match confirmed the win.
The running battle between Yarran and Chapman in the first term will be main talking point out of the game.
Yarran connected cleanly with a left jab, cutting Chapman above his right eye.
The Essendon forward was forced off under the blood rule and also spent time on the bench later in the quarter as a concussion substitute.
But he returned in the second term and played out the game.
There was considerable aggravation between the pair early in the match.
The loss left Carlton with a 0-3 start for the third season in a row and came after a week where the Blues confirmed their focus is on rebuilding the team.
But it was a much-improved performance.
While Carlton’s attack remains a big worry, they managed four more scoring shots.
As with their losses this season to Richmond and West Coast, the Blues started better and had an early lead.
But Essendon steadily took control and led by 27 points at the main break in a game that was often scrappy.
Essendon looked in complete control when captain Jobe Watson, who was best afield, extended the margin to 41 points with the first goal of the final term.
But Carlton kicked the next four goals to seriously challenge Essendon before Howlett’s goal killed off their comeback.
Young Essendon key forward Joe Daniher kicked four goals and Cale Hooker again impressed in defence.
Ruckman Cameron Wood and utility Patrick Cripps impressed for the Blues.
Essendon’s next match is the annual Anzac Day blockbuster against Collingwood at the MCG.
Carlton will play St Kilda, also next Saturday, in Wellington.