Charlie Curnow kicked seven goals for Carlton, but the Western Bulldogs still managed to stave off a stunning late rally to keep their AFL season alive with a pulsating three-point win at Marvel Stadium.
The Dogs led by 34 points late in the last quarter but the brave Blues rattled home with the last five goals of Saturday night’s see-sawing contest.
Curnow brought the margin back to three points when the young star kicked his seventh goal with just under three minutes remaining, but the Dogs hung on to claim their fifth win of the season – 15.13 (103) to 15.10 (100).
In a night of wild momentum swings, the Dogs coughed up a 34-point lead to trail by seven points late in the third quarter.
They climbed off the canvas to restore that advantage with the first four goals of the final term, but Carlton – a different beast under David Teague – came again and only just fell short of a second win under the caretaker coach.
Josh Dunkley was brilliant for the Dogs with 41 possessions and 10 tackles, while Jack Macrae (37 disposals) and Patrick Lipinski (29) were also important.
Hawthorn captain Ben Stratton faces an AFL misconduct fine for repeatedly pinching Essendon opponent Orazio Fantasia.
Stratton is certain to come under match review scrutiny for his tactics on Fantasia during Friday night’s match at Marvel Stadium.
The back of Fantasia’s upper left arm was covered in bruises by the end of the game and while he did not retaliate, the Bombers goalsneak also did not let Stratton off the hook in a post-game interview.
“I have a couple of bruises on the arm – Stratts loves to pinch and he’s a really good defender, so to come back and play on him, I knew I was in for a tough night,” Fantasia told Channel Seven.
“You can’t do anything. He’s a really good defender, he has all the tricks in the book.
“Every time I play on him, I know it’s a tough one.”
Fantasia’s teammate, Cale Hooker, was also unimpressed with the tactic.
“It comes as a surprise, usually the good players don’t have to get involved in that stuff and Ben Stratton is a pretty good player,” Hooker told 3AW.
Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson said he would speak to Stratton before commenting.
“I haven’t seen anything, so I will have a chat to him either Saturday or Sunday and see what’s occurred there,” Clarkson said.
“I wouldn’t like to comment until I speak to Stratts – once I speak to Stratts I will have a better feel for what my attitude is to it.”
Fantasia returned from injury and despite Stratton’s attentions, kicked two goals in the Essendon win.
Fremantle tagger Ryan Crowley was fined $1200 six years ago for pinching North Melbourne great Brent Harvey.
Gold Coast sink to ninth-straight loss
St Kilda have prevailed in another AFL cliffhanger against Gold Coast, beating the Suns by four points in a comeback which relieved coach Alan Richardson admits had been hard to watch.
The Saints overcame their own sloppiness and a ferocious start from the Suns to claw back from 31 points down in Saturday afternoon’s third quarter to win 11.14 (80) to 11.10 (76).
It was deja vu for the sides after St Kilda came from 31 points down last year to win by two points, while they also beat the Suns by one point in this season’s opening round.
It keeps St Kilda within, at most, one win of the eight and consigns the Suns (3-10) to a ninth-straight loss, many of which have come in similarly frustrating fashion for Stuart Dew’s rebuilding list.
The Saints move to 6-6 this season, easing pressure after a heavy last-start loss to Port Adelaide in Shanghai and only one win from their six prior games.
St Kilda kicked and caught poorly in the first half and looked gone early in the third term.
But they finally cleaned up their act to trail by just seven points at the final turn and go ahead for the first time with 11 minutes to play.
Saints standout Jack Billings (33 disposals, nine tackles) kicked two final-quarter goals in an attempt to kill off the Suns, who were out on their feet but still throwing punches.
Alex Sexton snapped truly and Anthony Miles (27 touches, six tackles) goaled to make it a three-point game inside the final two minutes in front of 7243 fans in Townsville’s first AFL game.
Tim Membrey (three goals) missed the chance to ice it with a wonky set shot, but they scrambled to clear the ball from the top of their defensive 50m zone in the ensuing play.
“I’ve never seen us make so many mistakes (in the first half). It was hard to watch,” Richardson said.
Walters gets Fremantle home again
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon has praised the leadership of Michael Walters after the star veteran produced another match-winning display in the club’s 21-point triumph over Port Adelaide.
Walters entered Saturday’s AFL clash at Optus Stadium having booted the winning score in each of the Dockers’ past two games.
And the 28-year-old produced the goods yet again, booting six goals from 25 disposals in the 15.10 (100) to 12.7 (79) win in front of 37,451 fans.
“He’s a class act. He’s a great story, a great role model,” Lyon said. “He’s a story of hard work and turnaround and consistency.
“You can’t do what he does if you’re not footy smart. He’s a real leader. He’s very passionate.”
Fremantle trailed by a point heading into the final term.