ROBBIE Gray has lived out every footballer's dream by kicking a miraculous goal after the siren to keep Port Adelaide on top of the competition.
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With Carlton leading by three points in the dying seconds, Gray marked the ball hard up against the right boundary line.
The final siren sounded.
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From 45m out, the veteran forward calmly threaded the needle to give his team a 9.10 (64) to 9.7 (61) victory at the Gabba.
Carlton looked winners in the last quarter and Port Adelaide did its best to lose, with Charlie Dixon, Gray, and most notably Todd Marshall from the top of the goalsquare all missing simple shots just moments earlier to hit the lead.
The victory keeps Ken Hinkley's men one game clear of Brisbane at the top after seven rounds.
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It was a pulsating game all day, with both teams throwing caution to the wind, moving the ball with speed and looking to attack.
Dixon was the most dominant forward on the ground, kicking 3.4 and taking six contested marks, while Harry McKay kicked three for the Blues.
Port finished with just two players on the bench after Ryan Burton (quad) and Steven Motlop (ankle) were taken off early in the final quarter.
Patrick Cripps (21 disposals) and Ed Curnow (20) were tireless in the midfield, while Sam Walsh became more influential as the match wore on, including a courageous mark with the flight of the ball in the third term.
A great advertisement for the game
After so much negativity around the state of the game, the two teams laid waste to that criticism with a thrilling contest. Just seven days after a match that Richmond coach Damien Hardwick described as "horrendous" at the same Gabba venue, Carlton and Port Adelaide played run-and-gun with an eight-goal first quarter. Although the goals slowed down, the action didn't. The teams played largely one-on-one (although some players liked to roll off their opponent) and the skills were on full display, with big forwards Charlie Dixon kicking goals at one end and Harry McKay slotting them at the other. A sunny afternoon game with a nice crowd and a grandstand finish was a delight in this strange season.
Eddie joins elite company
Eddie Betts ticked off another milestone on Sunday – and like usual, he did it in stunning fashion. The electric Carlton small forward became just the third player in history to kick 300 goals for two clubs when he kicked his first during the second quarter. Only the game's greatest goalkicker Tony Lockett (St Kilda and Sydney) and Lance Franklin (Hawthorn and Sydney) have done similar. After flying for a pack mark, Betts picked up the crumb, baulked around Ryan Burton and then quickly put the ball on his right boot to thread the needle. He kicked 310 goals for Adelaide and now has 300 exactly for the Blues.
Big man does a big job
After No.1 ruckman Scott Lycett was ruled out with a knee injury, back-up Peter Ladhams was given a rare chance. Playing just his sixth career game, the 202cm giant was highly influential both at the contest and around the ground. He narrowly lost the hitouts to Marc Pittonet, but more than atoned with his follow-up work, racking up 21 disposals, including four clearances. Ladhams is mobile, and although most of his work was done via handball, he also set up a shot at goal for Travis Boak with a deft left-footed pass. The 22-year-old has shown Ken Hinkley he can be trusted.
CARLTON 4.2 5.4 6.6 9.7 (61)
PORT ADELAIDE 4.1 6.4 7.6 9.10 (64)
Carlton: McKay 3, Walsh 2, Betts, Gibbons, Martin, Newnes
Port Adelaide: Dixon 3, Farrell 2, Boak, Butters, Gray, Motlop
Carlton: Walsh, Weitering, Cripps, Curnow, McKay
Port Adelaide: Dixon, Byrne-Jones, Jonas, Burton, Butters, Marshall, Ladhams
Port Adelaide: Burton (quad), Motlop (ankle)