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.
Superstar ruckman Max Gawn was a late withdrawal after failing to recover from a rolled ankle, but his replacement Braydon Preuss stood tall to outmatch Matthew Kreuzer.
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 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.
The Demons had led by 38 points late in the third quarter but were almost overrun by a determined Carlton side who again impressed under caretaker coach David Teague.
Young gun Will Setterfield was pivotal in the Blues’ resurgence, booting two fourth-quarter goals to level the scores before a rushed behind put the Blues ahead for the first time.
But Hunt was equal to the moment, lining up and calmly converting from 45m out to deny the Blues a third win under Teague.
Mitch McGovern had the chance to at least salvage a draw for Carlton but hit the post while lunging at the ball out of a contest.
Melbourne were well led in the midfield 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 and had 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 started life under Teague with an upset win over Brisbane, lost narrowly to the Western Bulldogs and stunned Fremantle on the road 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.
© AAP 2019
MELBOURNE 4.4 7.11 14.12 15.15 (105)
CARLTON 2.4 5.4 10.6 15.10 (100)
Goals: Melbourne: T McDonald 6 C Petracca 3 J Hunt 3 A Neal-Bullen J Harmes S Weideman. Carlton: J Silvagni 3 L Casboult 3 W Setterfield 3 M Kennedy 2 L O’Brien M Gibbons P Dow Z Fisher. Umpires: Brett Rosebury, Curtis Deboy, Andrew Heffernan.
Official Crowd: 55,593 at MCG.