CARLTON has held off a huge second-half challenge to post a thrilling three-point win and consign Port Adelaide to its worst start to an AFL season in club history.
A 50-point Blues lead before halftime was cut to just two points midway through the final term as the Power dramatically turned the match on its head.
Charlie Curnow's fifth goal gave Carlton breathing space as the last quarter ticked into time-on.
But Mitch Georgiades replied and Karl Amon had a set shot from outside 50 metres with one minute left on the clock that could have pinched the game.
It was rushed through for a behind in a mad scramble on the line and the Blues hung on for a 14.10 (94) to 13.13 (91) victory at the MCG.
The result was ultimately Carlton's fourth win in five games and left Port in a 0-5 hole as pressure mounts on coach Ken Hinkley.
BLUES v POWER Full match coverage and stats
Former Power assistant Michael Voss has no such issues in his first year in charge of the Blues, but does need to address his side's issues coming out of the half-time break.
In wins over the Western Bulldogs and Hawthorn, Carlton let its opponents claw their way back into the contest after holding a comfortable lead.
Having managed just four goals in the first half, Port mustered six to one in the third term.
The surge included two long bombs from Ryan Burton in his 100th game.
Port kicked another three goals to one in the last quarter, but the Curnow major was pivotal.
He combined with fellow Blues spearhead Harry McKay (three) for eight goals while Zac Fisher kicked two.
Sam Walsh had 16 disposals in the first quarter alone, instrumental in setting up the Blues' dominant first half.
Walsh (38 touches), George Hewett (33) and Adam Cerra (32) all found plenty of the ball in the absence of captain and fellow midfielder Patrick Cripps.
But they were outgunned in the second half as Burton, Zak Butters (32 disposals), Darcy Byrne-Jones (26) and Connor Rozee (24) helped drag Port back into the contest.
Robbie Gray kicked three goals for the Power and Sam Powell-Pepper matched Burton and Georgiades with two.
Carlton has a tricky away game against Fremantle at Optus Stadium in round six, while Port Adelaide hosts depleted West Coast at Adelaide Oval.
The apprentice becomes the master
Carlton coach Michael Voss’ win came at the expense of former mentor and boss Ken Hinkley. For eight of Hinkley’s 10 years at the helm of Port Adelaide, Voss was there. While correlation doesn’t always equal causation, it can’t be mere coincidence that the Blues have been in red hot form in their first season with Voss, while the Power has been subpar in their first season without him.
Harry and Charlie a scary combination
The Blues’ dynamic duo of Harry McKay and Charlie Curnow was in fine form on Sunday, booting six goals between them in the first half. McKay dominated aerially, slotting set shots when he got the chance. Curnow was similarly impressive, with the pair causing plenty of headaches as they stretched Port’s defenders. Their impact weaned slightly as the game wore on, but their first half showed what the Blues are capable of. Curnow finished with five goals, including one that put an end to the Power’s inspired fightback.
Port still a shadow of its former self
While their effort against the Blues was the Power’s best performance so far this year, they still couldn’t break through for the win. While they found another gear in the second half, the first half presented plenty of worrying signs for the Power. Admittedly without two of its most important players in Scott Lycett and reigning Brownlow medallist Ollie Wines, Port’s issues clearly run deeper than just absences, with its early ball movement looking sloppy and lacking dare. Despite Ken Hinkley’s protestations otherwise, Port Adelaide looks to be a shadow of its former self and unlikely to challenge finals this year.
CARLTON 6.4 12.6 13.8 14.10 (94)
PORT ADELAIDE 2.3 4.5 10.9 13.13 (91)
Carlton: Curnow 5, McKay 3, Martin 2, Fisher 2, Silvagni, Durdin
Port Adelaide: Gray 3, Georgiades 2, Burton 2, Powell-Pepper 2, Boak, Finlayson, Butters, Rozee
Carlton: Walsh, Hewett, McKay, Curnow, Cerra
Port Adelaide: Burton, Rozee, Powell-Pepper, Houston, Butters
Port Adelaide: TBC
Carlton: Paddy Dow
Port Adelaide: Jed McEntee
Crowd: 33,433 at the MCG