Carlton have withstood a late flourish from former Blue Eddie Betts to record a tense five-point win over Adelaide at the MCG.
With Carlton leading for most of the contest on Sunday, Betts emerged with two final-quarter goals that threatened to steal the show.
But with help from Dale Thomas and returning forward Jarrad Waite, the Blues were able to steady for a 12.9 (81) to 10.16 (76) victory.
The match, described by Wayne Carey as a “snorefest”, underwhelmed for long periods before catching fire.
With the ball deep in Adelaide’s forward line and less than half a minute on the clock, Andrejs Everitt’s tackle to deny Rory Sloane robbed the Crows of a chance to win.
Few could have predicted the grandstand finish given the poor ball retention and kicking from both teams.
Adelaide produced an unrecognisable performance to their last-out win against Collingwood, looking indecisive on the ball and inaccurate in front of goal.
Carlton were marginally better and applied more pressure.
Their pair of South Australians – Bryce Gibbs and Troy Menzel – were prominent early but the Blues were unable to kick clear of the Crows, leading by just seven at halftime.
The Blues looked to have carved a decisive 20-point lead with two quick goals to Everitt and Sam Docherty in the third term but Adelaide responded.
Charlie Cameron, Scott Thompson and Matthew Jaensch booted majors within four minutes to set the stage for a dramatic final term.
When Betts stole the ball and snapped his third goal, the Crows had a seven-point lead and looked to be finishing stronger.
But Ellard’s goal and Menzel’s third put Carlton back in charge.
Betts produced another piece of magic, robbing Yarran at ground level to put the Crows within a point.
Thomas’ mark against the odds and goal from angle restored their lead before Waite arrived to make it a 13-point gap.
David Mackay’s late goal ensured a frenetic finish but it was the Blues that held firm.