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Dons scrape past Blues, Cooney may be hamstrung for Anzac Day

Highlights: Carlton v Essendon The Blues and Bombers clash in round three
Chris Yarran of the Blues and Paul Chapman of the Bombers wrestle during the 2015 AFL Round 03 match between the Carlton Blues and the Essendon Bombers at the MCG, Melbourne on April 18, 2015. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Paul Chapman and Chris Yarran clash in the first quarter of a fiery MCG blockbuster

ESSENDON has held off arch-rivals Carlton to continue its impressive start to 2015, running out 21-point winners over the fast-finishing Blues at the MCG on Saturday.

In a fiery contest punctuated by flare-ups, the most severe of which is likely to see Chris Yarran suspended for striking Paul Chapman, the Bombers outclassed the plucky Blues, who can now certainly be considered in a rebuilding phase.

Five talking points: Carlton v Essendon

Last time these teams met in round 23 last year, Carlton earned a gallant draw against their finals-bound opponents.

That gap has widened over summer, although Blues fans could at least take something from the fight shown by Mick Malthouse's men against a potential top-eight opponent.

Essendon's 16.9 (105) to 11.18 (84) triumph was built by a midfield brigade led by stars Jobe Watson (36 disposals, one goal), 250th-gamer Brendon Goddard (23, one goal) and Dyson Heppell (25, one goal), plus willing worker Brent Stanton (29).

Up forward, Joe Daniher and David Zaharakis (three goals each) were constant threats, while Ben Howlett also bagged three majors – including the sealer – in his 100th game. 

At the other end, big man Lachie Henderson and Andrejs Everitt (two goals each) were the only multiple goalkickers.

Andrew Carrazzo (25 possessions), classy youngster Patrick Cripps (22), Marc Murphy (30) and Kade Simpson (23) never gave up for Carlton, which dominated contested possessions (159-117) but conceded overall disposals (387-336). 

The Dons' win lifted them to 2-1 and into the eight, at least temporarily, but the triumph was soured by a hamstring injury to recruit Adam Cooney, who came off early in the final quarter and is likely to be sidelined for three weeks, coach James Hird said post-match. 

Carlton could have its own problems, with Yarran looking at weeks on the sidelines for his scuffle with Chapman. 

Yarran landed a left hook to Chapman's head, with the veteran Bomber forced from the field soon after, with blood streaming from above his right eye.

 

While no report was laid, the incident is almost certain to see Yarran sanctioned by the Match Review Panel, with Chapman again forced from the field late in the term to be checked for concussion before returning after 20 minutes.

"It's quite uncharacteristic (of Yarran). He just said things happen. He said he didn't know why, how and that's the way it is," Malthouse said.

The incident injected some heat into what was, at times, a scrappy affair.

The Blues made a willing start, but dropped away shortly after quarter-time in a concerning trend this season. 

Carlton only trailed by three points midway through the second term, but Essendon's seven-goal to one burst either side of half-time opened a match-winning lead.

To their credit, the Blues – who had four more scoring shots - refused to lie down and got within 14 points in the final term before Howlett sealed the game. 

Despite securing the four points, Hird said his side was flat after stopping in its tracks in the last quarter for the second time in three matches. 

"We didn't play our best football today. But the guys came off a six-day break and a huge game against Hawthorn and fronted up and played reasonably well and took the points," Hird said.

"We're happy with the win. There's certain areas of our game we want to clean up and get better at, but that game (against Hawthorn) took a lot out of our players."

Brendon Goddard is chaired from the MCG after his 250th game. Picture: AFL Media


CARLTON     2.4    5.7    7.12    11.18 (84)
ESSENDON  3.4   10.4    14.6   16.9 (105)

GOALS
Carlton: Henderson 2, Everitt 2, Judd, Gibbs, Armfield, Bell, Jones, Walker, Ellard
Essendon: Daniher 3, Zaharakis 3, Howlett 3, Chapman 2, Goddard, Heppell, Carlisle, Collyer, Watson 

BEST 
Carlton: Murphy, Walker, Carrazzo, Cripps, Simpson, Armfield, Wood
Essendon: Watson, Hooker, Heppell, Goddard, Hurley, Stanton, Hibberd, Gleeson 

INJURIES
Carlton: Nil
Essendon: Cooney (hamstring) 

SUBSTITUTES
Carlton: Byrne replaced Curnow in the third quarter
Essendon: Ashby replaced Cooney at three-quarter-time 

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Ryan, Schmitt, Jeffery

Official crowd: 54,854 at the MCG