CARLTON has given new senior coach David Teague a win in his first match officially in charge, defeating St Kilda by 10 points at the MCG.
It was a see-sawing match full of errors but highly entertaining, which saw the Blues end the Saints' faint finals hopes with a 11.12 (78) to 10.8 (68) victory.
BLUES BY A NOSE Full match coverage and stats
Harry McKay celebrates his crucial late goal against the Saints. Picture: AFL Photos
The lead changed three times in a tense final term with the winning twist coming after the seemingly ageless Kade Simpson outpointed Jack Lonie on the half-back flank.
The 35-year-old hit the ground running, travelling the length of the centre square before pin-pointing mid-season recruit Josh Deluca, who duly (if wobbly) converted.
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A stunning Harry McKay snap from 45 metres took the margin beyond doubt.
St Kilda caretaker coach Brett Ratten was coming up against the club he both played for and coached, while Teague was carrying the senior coach reins for the first time after being appointed on Thursday.
The usual suspects in Marc Murphy (27 disposals and a stunning banana from his favourite MCG pocket) and Patrick Cripps (22 and five clearances after shaking clear a tough Jack Steele tag) led the way for the Blues, while Levi Casboult (20 and 10 marks) owned the air in defence with confidence.
Casboult's form was such Jake Carlisle was swung forward in the last term to try to hold him accountable.
Tim Membrey enjoyed coming up against a Carlton defence missing Liam Jones (fractured larynx) and Jacob Weitering (a late withdrawal with a groin injury), kicking three, while Nick Hind was lively on the forward flank.
After a ho-hum opening quarter, St Kilda began to kick clear in the second term, using outside run from Hind and Seb Ross (29 touches) and making smart decisions inside 50.
The visitors kicked six straight goals, but the young Blues didn't drop their heads, responding with three of their own, including a low Ed Curnow dribble from a stoppage that managed to bounce under a lunging Carlisle.
There were several intriguing match-ups in the game, none more so than the battle of the big men in Matthew Kreuzer and Rowan Marshall.
Whoever was dominating at the time often dictated the fortunes of their team, with Kreuzer wearing down the young Saint as the game progressed.
There were passages of play that would please both sets of fans, with promising signs for the future after relatively poor seasons.
But there were also plenty of moments that drew audible groans from the raucous 51,786-strong crowd – teammates spoiling each other, poor disposal under no pressure and shallow inside-50 entries that were easily picked off.
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The spring-like sun was also an unexpected foe for both sides, with players often losing the ball completely in the air to comedic effect.
Dale Thomas, who announced his retirement this week after being informed Carlton would not offer him a contract for 2020, was met with warm applause with nearly every touch.
Dan Hannebery showed why the Saints invested so much time into "rebuilding" his body after a run of soft-tissue injuries, adding class to the line-up.
There was confusion at three-quarter time when the controlling umpire payed a mark in front of goal to Jack Silvagni seemingly after the siren had gone, only for a non-officiating umpire to overrule.
Carlton: Will Setterfield received work on his right knee early but played out the match unencumbered. Michael Gibbons was forced to the rooms halfway through the third after hurting his left shoulder in a tackle but returned in the last quarter.
St Kilda: The Saints emerged unscathed.
Carlton finishes off its season with a daunting trip to Geelong to take on the Cats in the Saturday twilight slot, while St Kilda's final match will come against Sydney at the SCG early Saturday afternoon.
CARLTON 2.4 5.5 8.11 11.12 (78)
ST KILDA 3.3 7.4 8.8 10.8 (68)
Carlton: McGovern 3, Kennedy, Silvagni, Lang, Curnow, Murphy, Dow, Deluca, McKay
St Kilda: Membrey 3, Hind 2, Billings, Hannebery, Long, Newnes, Carlisle
Carlton: Murphy, Cripps, Kreuzer, Casboult, McGovern
St Kilda: Ross, Hannebery, Membrey, Billings, Hind
Carlton: Weitering (groin) replaced in selected side by Lang
St Kilda: Nil
Umpires: O'Gorman, Harris, Wallace
Official crowd: 51,786 at the MCG