CARLTON has ended a 14-game losing run against Hawthorn and closed the door on the Hawks' season with a gutsy seven-point win at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.
The Blues produced some of the best and most disciplined football of their season to win their first game since round 13, boosting their chances of avoiding the wooden spoon with the 12.5 (77) to 10.10 (70) win.
Hawthorn's slim finals hopes were extinguished in the process, with a late surge in the final quarter falling short as the Blues beat their tormentors for the first time since 2005.
The win also came on the night the Blues celebrated the 30th anniversary of their 1987 VFL premiership, with the Robert Walls coached team doing a lap of honour before the start of the match.
It was a spiteful clash from the start, with Jed Lamb and James Sicily involved in a number of skirmishes through the night as the Blues sought to shut down the young Hawks defender.
The tactic worked, with Lamb among Carlton's best players with 15 possessions and 2.2, while Sicily gave away seven free kicks and took just two marks in his defensive role.
Blues captain Marc Murphy was excellent in the midfield with 34 possessions, six clearances and four inside 50s, while Sam Docherty was the architect in defence with 31 and 15 marks.
The most pleasing aspect of the win for the Blues, however, would have been the impact of some of the young players who appeared to have been tiring as the season dragged to a close.
Charlie Curnow showed great signs across half-forward, flying to take contested marks and finishing with 22 possessions (14 contested). Jarrod Pickett was a livewire in attack with two goals, while Zac Fisher got the team going in the first quarter.
Ruckman Matthew Kreuzer had the slight edge on Hawthorn opponent Ben McEvoy even battle between the workhorses, finishing with 29 hit-outs, five clearances and a goal.
Carlton coach Brendon Bolton said the victory was a well-deserved reward for his team after its string of close losses this season.
"I think what today does it just gives the ‘87 premiership team that were here, our members, our club, our players just a little bit of emotional nourishment that they deserve for their efforts over the course of the year," the coach said.
"I thought they closed the game out really well. Hawthorn were pressing heavily and we turned that ball over across half-back and held on to the ball, that's good maturity for a young group."
The biggest positive for the Hawks was Jaeger O'Meara's drama-free return to the game after another season wiped out by injury, with the star recruit finishing with 17 possessions and five clearances.
Ball-magnet Tom Mitchell continued his record-breaking season with 44 possessions and 11 clearances, while Ryan Burton (23 possessions and a goal) gave the NAB AFL Rising Star judges more to think about.
Carlton played some of the best football of its season in the opening quarter, taking a feisty attitude into the contest and ruffling the Hawks' feathers on the way to a 21-point lead at quarter-time.
The circuit breaker Hawthorn needed came from an unlikely source in the opening minutes of the second quarter, with Will Langford marking 30m from goal and lining up for 17th set shot this season.
It was a big moment for the 25-year-old, who had kicked just one goal from 16 set shots coming into round 22, and every teammate on the ground ran to him after he converted to start a Hawthorn fightback.
O'Meara also started to work into the game around the stoppages after a quiet start, while Mitchell led the Hawks' fightback with 11 possessions as they went on a four-goals-to-one run.
The Hawks had their noses in front late in the third quarter before Pickett took a nice contested grab and converted his set shot to take back the lead for Carlton.
Then Lamb kicked his second goal, from 45m, and went to Sicily to ruffle his hair, leaving nobody in doubt about who had won that crucial match-up.
That the Blues had been able to hold their own through a tight third term spoke volumes about their discipline under Bolton.
The Hawks threw everything they had at Carlton in the final quarter but couldn't break Bolton's defensive machine, with the Blues' sixth win of the season arguably their most encouraging.
A disappointed Alastair Clarkson paid tribute to the defensively-minded Blues, who kept his team to its third lowest score of the season.
"We didn't quite get the game played on our terms, it was played on Carlton's terms all night," Clarkson said.
"That's the way they like to play. When Carlton win it's always 12 goals to 10 and that's what the result was. We're disappointed with the way we played.
"Full credit to Carlton. They had the game played on their terms and we were probably lucky to be close enough at quarter-time to even be in the contest."
Carlton: A Blues spokesman confirmed Billie Smedts had failed a concussion test after a head clash in the third quarter and would be assessed during the week. Jack Silvagni copped a boot to the jaw that required attention but was able to play on.
Hawthorn: Ricky Henderson had his lower back worked on during the second quarter before playing on, while Liam Shiels was a late withdrawal with a corked hip.
Hawthorn champion Luke Hodge will play his final game next Friday night against the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium. Carlton travels to the SCG to take on a rampaging Sydney team on Saturday.
CARLTON 4.4 6.4 10.4 12.5 (77)
HAWTHORN 1.1 5.7 8.8 10.10 (70)
Carlton: Casboult 2, Pickett 2, Lamb 2, Gibbs, Wright, Thomas, Fisher, C. Curnow, Kreuzer
Hawthorn: Puopolo 2, Langford, Breust, McEvoy, Roughead, Burton, Duryea, Smith, Burgoyne
Carlton: Murphy, Docherty, Kreuzer, Lamb, C. Curnow, Jones, Pickett
Hawthorn: Mitchell, Gunston, McEvoy, Burgoyne, Burton, Smith
Carlton: Billie Smedts (concussion)
Hawthorn: Liam Shiels (hip) replaced in the selected side by Conor Glass
Umpires: Stephens, Fleer, McInerney
Official crowd: 35,799 at Etihad Stadium