Jayden Hunt has booted a clutch goal at the death to salvage Melbourne a nailbiting five-point win over Carlton in their bottom-four AFL clash at the MCG.
Hunt booted three majors on Sunday while Tom McDonald struck form with six, as the Demons survived a late onslaught to run out 15.15 (105) to 15.10 (100) winners.
Missing superstar ruckman Max Gawn, the Dees led by 38 points late in the third quarter but were pushed to the brink in the final term before Hunt’s cool set shot from 45m.
McDonald was struck down by a knee injury late in the third quarter, but the Dees were confident he had escaped any major damage.
“It looks like a meniscus in his knee,” coach Simon Goodwin said.
“He was terrific today so it’s disappointing for us but, hopefully, the scans will come back not too bad and we’ll see how it goes.”
Turnovers were costly for Carlton all day. Veteran Kade Simpson will be left to regret an errant kick that landed in the hands of Clayton Oliver, who found Hunt in space for the match-winning goal with two minutes left on the clock.
Melbourne’s triumph was further soured by defender Marty Hore breaking his collarbone when he landed awkwardly after a hard, but fair, bump from Sam Petrevski-Seton in the first term.
Gawn was withdrawn after failing to recover from a rolled ankle, but his replacement Braydon Preuss stood tall to outpoint Matthew Kreuzer.
Young gun Will Setterfield was pivotal in Carlton’s resurgence, booting two fourth-quarter goals to level the scores before a rushed behind put them ahead for the first time.
Mitch McGovern had the chance to at least salvage a draw in the dying seconds but hit the post while lunging at the ball out of a contest.
“Part of me loved their character, their fight, their resilience … but we need to start turning up to be the aggressors from the word go,” caretaker coach David Teague said.
Melbourne were well led by James Harmes (27 disposals) and Clayton Oliver (26), while McDonald made an overdue return to form.
Before Sunday’s big haul, McDonald had booted just 12 goals for the season, with seven games in which he was held goalless.
Jack Silvagni starred for Carlton with three goals. He earned rapturous applause from the Blues’ faithful when he ran to the bench after winning a key contest against Michael Hibberd to help set up a Setterfield major with the game on the line.
It was another valiant effort by the Blues, who stunned Fremantle on the road last week without inspirational skipper Patrick Cripps.
With Cripps (foot) missing again and spearhead Charlie Curnow ruled out for a month with a knee injury, the Blues paid the price for some deplorable skill errors.
In a weekend full of blowouts and blunders, the Blues gifted Melbourne three goals from turnovers in the first quarter alone.