Early-season premiership favourites Carlton slumped to their fourth loss in five matches as they suffered a 12-point defeat at the hands of Geelong in their round-11 clash on Friday night.
Defending premiers Geelong won 14.13 (97) to 11.19 (85) before a crowd of 47,632 at Etihad Stadium, increasing the pressure on Carlton coach Brett Ratten whose side’s grip on a top-eight spot is looking shaky with a 6-5 record.
Carlton’s Eddie Betts and Geelong’s Steven Motlop booted four goals each.
The Cats improved their record to 7-4 after strong-bodied midfielders Joel Selwood and Paul Chapman combined for 15 inside-50 entries, 53 disposals and three goals.
Mitch Duncan, with 24 disposals and two goals, was another strong contributor and held Chris Judd for most of the game until the Blues skipper worked his way back into the game in the final term.
Key defender Michael Jamison held Geelong’s Tom Hawkins to one goal, while running defender Bryce Gibbs had an entertaining duel with Cats’ star Steve Johnson who was goal-less.
The Blues dominated the opening term, kicking four goals to Geelong’s two, but by halftime Carlton’s advantage had shrunk to five points.
Betts booted three first-quarter goals before another goalsneak Motlop kicked three majors to keep the Cats in touch at halftime.
After a quiet first half, Hawkins helped spark the Cats who grabbed the lead for the first time since the first minute of the match.
Geelong outscored the Blues five goals to three in the third term to hold a six-point break at three-quarter time and another four goals to two in the final quarter kept the Cats in control.
Selwood, with 10 possessions and a classic captain’s goal, led Geelong’s third-quarter revival.
With five minutes left in the game, Mathew Stokes put the Cats 19 points ahead with a goal from a free kick and the Blues could only manage one more goal, a determined snap from Judd, who lifted with a 10-possession last quarter.
Kade Simpson and Brock McLean shared the midfield load for the Blues with Judd.
James Podsiadly was a late withdrawal from Geelong’s selected side with a sore hip.
Carlton face a daunting trip to Perth to play ladder leaders West Coast next Friday night while Geelong have a bye.
The All Blacks have beaten the Wallabies 37-10 to rack up a record 18th consecutive Test win and complete a 3-0 Bledisloe Cup series sweep.