Blues hold off Bombers in AFL thriller

Jason Phelan
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AFL BOMBERS BLUES

Carlton have beaten Essendon by one point in an AFL thriller at the MCG

Essendon's Jacob Townsend has missed a long set shot in the dying seconds as Carlton overcame the early loss of Jack Silvagni to score a stunning one-point win at the MCG.

The Bombers were playing their first game in 13 days, having had their round-three match postponed following Conor McKenna's positive COVID-19 test, and the Blues finished stronger to score a 7.10 (52) to 8.3 (51) win.

Silvagni was sent to hospital for scans on his ribs after Zach Merrett landed a blow in the first quarter that will draw scrutiny from the match review officer.

Carlton trailed by 12 points early in the final term on Saturday night but goals to Jack Martin and Levi Casboult set up a frantic finale.

As the seconds ticked down, Eddie Betts gave away a 50m penalty that allowed Adam Saad to send a long ball into attacking 50 where Townsend took a diving mark.

With his team two points down, Townsend's set shot from just outside the 50m arc was bundled over for a rushed behind, with Carlton players jubilant just seconds later as the final siren sounded.

It was the club's second nailbiter in as many matches on the back of last week's two-point win over Geelong.

"You've got to win these games, you've got to be in them, and probably for too long we haven't," coach David Teague said.

"So it's great that we're getting there.

"They stuck strong, even when they got two goals behind late, we were doing a lot right and they stayed really calm, which I think is probably from our experience playing in close games."

It was a super effort given they played most of the night without Silvagni.

Merrett swung his left arm at Silvagni's back as he kicked the ball early in the first quarter.

Grimacing in pain, Silvagni immediately went to the bench for assessment and a club official confirmed he had been taken to hospital by ambulance shortly before halftime.

Sam Docherty was superb in defence for Carlton, the co-captain gathering 31 possessions.

David Cuningham (28 disposals), Sam Walsh (23) and Michael Gibbons (25) were important through the middle, while Casboult finished with three goals.

Andrew McGrath (20), Dylan Shiel (19) and Devon Smith (18) were influential for the Bombers, who struggled to find a reliable target inside attacking 50.

"We had a shot for goal to win the game late so there are parts of the game that we were pretty happy with," Essendon coach John Worsfold said.

"But there's a lot that we've still got to work on."