Patrick Cripps celebrates a goal during the round 22 match between Carlton and Melbourne at the MCG, August 12, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

A CONTROVERSIAL goal review has fallen Carlton's way in the final minute of a pulsating four-point victory over Melbourne that extended the Blues' winning streak to eight matches.

Demons star Christian Petracca's shot from outside 50m was initially ruled touched on the goal line by Caleb Marchbank and officials found insufficient evidence to overturn the umpire's soft call on review.

BLUES v DEMONS Full match coverage and stats

Melbourne had time for two more entries into a crowded forward line in the final 30 seconds but was unable to find a winning score, with the Blues hanging on for a 9.6 (60) to 8.8 (56) triumph.

It keeps Michael Voss's side in fifth spot with two rounds to play and means the Demons slip to third, replaced in the top two by Brisbane.


The Blues are now almost certain to end a decade-long finals drought, having seemed out of contention at the halfway point of the season.

Patrick Cripps (29 disposals, five clearances) and George Hewett (33, eight) stood up for Carlton in an undermanned midfield, while Nic Newman, Adam Saad and Jacob Weitering all played important roles.


Blues spearhead Charlie Curnow booted two goals in the low-scoring contest, taking his tally to 70 in a career-best season that is likely to end with a second Coleman Medal hung around his neck.

Matt Owies also kicked two crucial goals.


Petracca (24 disposals, two goals) almost hauled Melbourne over the line with Jack Viney (31 touches, five clearances) and Angus Brayshaw (31, seven) busy.

Clayton Oliver had 27 disposals and nine clearances on return after an extended lay-off with hamstring issues, while big-name recruit Brodie Grundy (nine touches, 11 hit-outs) didn't have a huge impact after being recalled.

It was Carlton's game early - only without reward on the scoreboard.


The Blues failed to convert their territorial dominance, taking a measly three-point lead to quarter-time from a lopsided 24-4 inside-50 advantage.

It had grown to 27-6 by the three-minute mark of the second quarter when the Demons' quick transition led to a Kade Chandler goal that put them in front against the tide.


The margin never got to double figures either way in a dour first half, with Melbourne livewire Kysaiah Pickett's soaring mark over Alex Cincotta a rare highlight.

Carlton kicked three of the first four goals after the main break but scores were locked at 42-42 by three-quarter time as the arm wrestle continued.


Goals to Matt Owies and Tom De Koning in the opening two minutes of the final term put the Blues in the driver's seat again before Curnow's second gave them an 18-point lead - the biggest of the night.

Goals to Pickett and Joel Smith dragged Melbourne back within a kick before Petracca's late effort fell short.


A crowd of 68,577 was on hand at the MCG, with many fans packing the concourse and bars during a dour first quarter to watch the Matildas' penalty shootout win over France on TV screens.


The Blues train is full steam ahead
After a season that looked done and dusted halfway through, Michael Voss has turned his side into the form team of the competition, winning eight on the trot including victories over Collingwood, Port Adelaide and now Melbourne. A top-four spot and double chance is mathematically possible but extremely unlikely, and that’s about the only factor stopping Carlton from being the premiership favourite. There’s not a lot of finals experience in this line-up, but it’s more than made up for by sheer determination, and that can be a scary thing for more hardened sides to find themselves facing.

Blues players celebrate after the round 22 match between Carlton and Melbourne at the MCG, August 12, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Oliver's back for more
Four-time best and fairest winner Clayton Oliver returned after missing the past 10 matches and was a little scratchy early. The ball magnet had eight touches to half-time, a quiet start by his usual standards, but the consummate professional made sure he was involved, laying six tackles through the first two quarters. With the pace of the game back in his legs, Oliver lifted after the long break, finishing with 27 disposals and game-highs for tackles (13) and clearances (nine). While it wasn't quite enough to get a win, it's something Melbourne will need if it's to be at its most potent in finals.

Clayton Oliver during the round 22 match between Carlton and Melbourne at the MCG, August 12, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Great games of football wherever you looked
The MCG decided to show the Matildas v France clash before Saturday night's game, but with the World Cup fixture going into extra time and then an extended penalty shoot-out, there were times it seemed not only the crowd, but even the players were more interested in what was happening in Sydney than at the 'G. Only two goals were scored for the term and as soon as the siren sounded players were looking into the stands just in time to see the Matildas win a nail-biting penalty shoot-out.


CARLTON         1.3    3.5    6.6    9.6 (60)
    1.0    3.3    6.6    8.8 (56)

Carlton: Owies 2, Curnow 2, Martin, Docherty, De Koning, Cripps, Acres
Melbourne: Petracca 2, Neal-Bullen 2, Sparrow, Pickett, Langdon, Chandler

Carlton: Cripps, Newman, Weitering, Hewett, Docherty
Melbourne: Viney, Oliver, Petracca, Salem, Brayshaw

Carlton: Docherty (calf)
Melbourne: TBC

Carlton: Ed Curnow (replaced Sam Docherty in the fourth quarter)
Melbourne: Michael Hibberd (replaced James Jordon in the third quarter)

Crowd: 68,577 at the MCG