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Stunning comeback against Port catapults Blues into September

Highlights: Power v Carlton The Power and Blues clash in round 23
Tom Bell of the Blues celebrates a goal during the 2013 AFL Round 23 match between Port Adelaide Power and the Carlton Blues at AAMI Stadium, Adelaide on August 31, 2013. (Photo: AFL Media)
Tom Bell celebrates the Blues thrilling entry to finals

AN AMAZING last-quarter comeback has rocketed Carlton into the 2013 finals series, coming back from as much as 39-points down at the midway point of the third term to storm home to a 15.14 (104) to 15.13 (103) win.

45,127 fans poured in for the last match at AAMI Stadium, an occasion marked by Port wearing the club's traditional 'prison bar' jumper, and for the first three quarters they were loving every minute of it.

But just when it looked as though the Blues had thrown their finals hopes into other clubs' hands, Mick Malthouse read them the riot act. 

And riot they did, turning the tide by booting four goals in the first eight minutes of the last quarter to revive their season.

The visitors took the lead for the first time in the game when unheralded 14-gamer Tom Bell slotted a 45-metre shot on the run with five minutes remaining.

In a pulsating finale Port's Matthew Broadbent had the chance to deliver his side a win with a 50m attempt with just 27 seconds to go.

But his shot hit the post, leaving Port one-point adrift.

Carlton coach Mick Malthouse said there was always a flicker of hope for his side, the trick was to keep it dancing.

"You can't blow it out, you've got to make sure that flicker is still a credible, achievable, positive flicker," Malthouse said.

"Otherwise you snuff that out, the game's dead.

"Once we started to run the football, then put the scoreboard pressure on, that made Port play differently."

Blues captain Marc Murphy kicked three goals and, along with the likes of Bryce Gibbs (26 touches) and Andrew Walker (25 possessions) triggered the finals-saving fightback.

Carlton's mosquito fleet - Eddie Betts, Chris Yarren and Jeff Gartlett - all kicked two goals.

Port's Brad Ebert was a standout but faded late, while his teammates Jay Schulz (three goals) and Kane Cornes (34 disposals) were prominent.

Former Power captain Dom Cassisi faces an anxious wait, with his second-term sling tackle on Murphy certain to attract attention from the match review panel.

Cassisi, holding both hands of the Blues captain, threw Murphy to the ground in a late tackle penalised by the umpire.

Both clubs will feature in elimination finals next week - against Richmond or Collingwood, depending on other results.

While buoyed by the fact his side will feature in the finals next week, Port coach Ken Hinkley was disappointed his side surrendered victory.

"They were able to turn the game around and play it on their terms…[we] let slip in the last quarter all our good work," Hinkley said.

"We tried our guts out to be honest."

The final quarter was played at a rare level of intensity by both sides.   Picture: AFL Media

PORT ADELAIDE      4.3   8.9    12.11   15.13   (103)                  
CARLTON                   1.5   3.7      7.12   15.14   (104)          
Port Adelaide: Ebert 4, Schulz 4, Westhoff 2, Monfries, Boak, Logan, Young, Wingard
Carlton: Murphy 3, Garlett 2, Yarran 2, Betts 2, Simpson, Kreuzer, Gibbs, Curnow, Waite, Bell
Port Adelaide: Ebert, Cornes, Schulz, O'Shea, Colquhoun, Boak 
Carlton: Murphy, Gibbs, Curnow, Walker, Betts, Yarran
Port Adelaide: Robbie Gray (quad) replaced in selected side by Brent Renouf
Carlton: Scotland (quad) replaced in selected side by Nick Duigan
Port Adelaide: Lewis Stevenson replaced Sam Colquhoun at three-quarter-time.
Carlton: Nick Duigan replaced Levi Casboult at half-time
Reports: Nil
Umpires: Nicholls, Meredith, Pannell

Official crowd: 45,127  at AAMI Stadium