Charlie Curnow has starred with six goals as Carlton resisted a strong fightback to strengthen their grip on an AFL top-four spot with a 15-point win over Sydney.
The Blues prevailed 15.12 (102) to 13.9 (87) at Marvel Stadium on Friday night in a contest between fourth and fifth on the ladder, sending a warning to the competition in the process.
Despite injured spearhead Harry McKay’s absence, their brutal scoring power was on full show in a nine-goal second quarter that broke the game open.
But Carlton were forced to scrap as the Swans hit back, closing to within eight points late in the final term before Zac Fisher hacked through a steadying goal in time-on.
Jacob Weitering, Tom De Koning and Lachie Plowman all took big marks in the final quarter to help hold Sydney at bay.
“Where we showed some real growth tonight was that defensive resilience to be able to absorb,” Blues coach Michael Voss said.
“We absorbed a lot and it didn’t look like we were going to be able to get there in the end but we found a way.”
Swans co-captain Josh Kennedy will face scrutiny over a high spoiling attempt on Sam Docherty, during which he tore his right hamstring.
The clumsy effort split open Docherty’s head, forcing the Blues defender off under the blood rule, and sparked a fierce melee as Carlton players rushed to remonstrate with Kennedy.
He was sat on the ground nursing his injured leg and was eventually helped off the field by two trainers as jeers from Blues fans rained down from the stands.
Curnow kicked five first-half goals, helping the Blues to a 38-point lead at the main break, and finished with the equal second-biggest haul of his 72-game career.
Small forwards Fisher and Corey Durdin kicked two goals each.
The Blues’ midfield was dominant in the first half, leading their side to a 89-58 advantage in contested possession, which was 161-137 in their favour at full-time.
Sam Walsh (34 disposals), former Swans ball-winner George Hewett (32) and Patrick Cripps (19) were influential, particularly before half-time.
Weitering was strong in defence opposed to Lance Franklin and young tall De Koning took another big step forward in the ruck.
Logan McDonald was a shining light in attack for the Swans, starting brightly and finishing with three goals, while Tom Papley also booted three majors for the visitors.
Luke Parker (26 disposals), Isaac Heeney (24) and Callum Mills (22) helped drag Sydney back into the contest.
They won the inside-50 count 37-16 in the second half but only managed to put 1.5 on the scoreboard in the final term.
“To our players credit they didn’t give up at half-time, even though Carlton were fantastic in that second quarter and their pressure was enormous,” Swans coach John Longmire said.
“We came home hard and we just couldn’t quite execute in that last quarter.”