Blues win again, spoil Bombers' AFL party

·2-min read

Carlton have spoiled arch-rival Essendon's 150th anniversary celebrations, recording a 26-point AFL victory to continue the Bombers' horror season.

In front of 65,440 fans on Friday, Essendon put on a memorable pre-game show at the MCG as captain Dyson Heppell delivered a stirring address to his players in a circle full of Bombers legends of the past 50 years.

But not even the emotion of a historic occasion could help Essendon pull off a giant upset as the 16th-placed Bombers stumbled to a 2-10 record this season.

Essendon rallied after Carlton slammed through the first three goals of the game but the Blues powered ahead by kicking 5.3 to 2.2 in the second quarter.

In an uninspiring final quarter, both teams went goalless after the Blues led by 28 points at three-quarter-time.

Carlton had too much class in the midfield, and up forward with twin towers Harry McKay (three goals) and Charlie Curnow (two), and ran out winners 12.8 (80) to 7.12 (54).

"I thought our first half was really strong...but we strayed from doing some little things well, which we'd been doing earlier," Blues coach Michael Voss said.

"I think we're still in that phase where we're learning to win and learning to win properly and acknowledge there's some growth still left in us."

At 9-3, the Blues are surging towards their first finals appearance since 2013 but their injury list continues to grow.

Already without star fullback Jacob Weitering, midfielder Adam Cerra (hamstring) was subbed out in the first quarter and is a doubt for Carlton's blockbuster clash with Richmond on Thursday night.

Utility Jack Silvangi and midfielder Matt Kennedy looked sore at the end of the third quarter but were both able to return to the field.

Essendon were hit by the late withdrawal of key midfielder Andrew McGrath (groin) and were further hampered as fellow onballer Darcy Parish was subbed out in the third quarter with a suspected calf injury.

"There's certainly some signs there to take with us, some signs of progress, but unfortunately we're not quite getting the scoreboard to move the way we'd like," Bombers coach Ben Rutten said.

"Continually looking to build on that connection and cohesion and it's an ongoing process for us."

Comeback kid Sam Docherty was again one of Carlton's best as he pushes his claims for All-Australian selection in his first season back after recovering from testicular cancer.

Adam Saad haunted his former club, the dashing defender earning boos from Essendon supporters for every one of his 19 possessions.

The struggling Bombers will be back on the Friday night stage next week when they face red-hot St Kilda at Marvel Stadium.

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