Blues thrash Bombers by 96 points
Carlton's Marc Murphy was fired up for revenge and spearheaded his AFL side's 16-goal demolition of Essendon on Saturday at the MCG.
The Blues kept themselves in the hunt for a place in the finals with their 24.12 (156) to 8.12 (60) victory in a spiteful round-21 clash in front of 59,381 fans.
Carlton improved their win-loss record to 11-9. The Bombers are also on 11-9 after suffering their fifth consecutive defeat and their soft-tissue problems have continued with injuries to key defenders Dustin Fletcher and Jake Carlisle.
Injury-plagued forward Jarrad Waite, in just his ninth game for the season, booted five goals for the Blues while Murphy had 37 possessions.
Murphy had said after Carlton's five-goal loss to Essendon in round four that he couldn't wait to play the Bombers again. The Blues were smarting over the tackle by Essendon's Sam Lonergan which left midfielder Andrew Carrazzo on the sidelines for seven matches with a fractured shoulder.
Carrazzo was another key contributor with 18 possessions and a solid defensive role on Essendon skipper Jobe Watson.
Carlton kicked five goals to Essendon's two in Saturday's opening term.
Blues utility Bryce Gibbs sparked an all-in melee at quarter-time with a heavy tackle on Essendon's Dyson Heppell as the siren sounded on the wing.
Mitch Robinson's tangle with Essendon's Carlile is one of several clashes that could come under scrutiny from the match-review panel.
The Bombers subbed out two-time All-Australian Fletcher, 37, with a hip-flexor muscle injury during the first quarter.
Carlton went on a rampage in the second term, winning the centre clearances 10-2 and kicking 10 goals to Essendon's four to power ahead by 52 points at halftime.
Essendon lost a second tall defender when Carlisle limped off in the third term with what appeared to be an ankle injury.
The Blues surged further ahead with a five-goal third quarter to Essendon's solitary major to Brent Stanton as Carlton took a 79-point advantage into the final term.
Essendon also managed only one goal in the final term to Carlton's four, which included Murphy kicking his second goal after the final siren to cap off a brilliant performance.
Essendon face Richmond and premiership contenders Collingwood in the final two rounds while Carlton play Gold Coast and St Kilda.
Melbourne, meanwhile, soured Luke Power's 300th AFL game celebrations in Canberra, recording a 25-point win over Greater Western Sydney.
Power became the 66th man in VFL/AFL history to achieve the milestone, but his side couldn't rise to the occasion and were defeated 11.18 (84) to 9.5 (59).
The Giants trailed by only two points when young gun Toby Greene goalled in the fifth minute of the second quarter.
Unfortunately for most of the crowd of 7,561, the hosts' next goal would come in the sixth minute of the last term through key defender Phil Davis.
This was a clash between two sides anchored to the bottom quarter of the ladder, and in many ways it showed.
Turnovers resulted in goals - or behinds more commonly - and too many passes failed to hit their target.
But it was a match with no shortage of feeling - Melbourne's Sam Blease went for Sam Darley's jugular in arguably the most heated of a series of spot fires.
It was the sort of spirit the game was played in, with both sides playing for pride rather than draft picks as the Demons have been accused of doing in past seasons by former teammate Brock McLean.
And there were some highlights - Melbourne's Jeremy Howe flew for marks in his normal style and clutched a screamer in the third term.
Demons co-captain Jack Trengove had an outstanding game while Greene showed incredible attack on the ball and football smarts.
In one passage of play on the wing, the 18-year-old grubbered to himself and produced a bullet-like pass into the forward 50m.
The Giants' endeavour was never lacking, but the same couldn't said of their discipline and decision-making.
The conditions didn't help.
While the snow that GWS coach Kevin Sheedy said pre-match he was hoping for failed to eventuate, a strong wind made the goalposts sway for most of the game.
However, not all of the side's struggles could be blamed on the gusts.
Israel Folau, devoid of even a skerrick of confidence, struggled to make an impact.
The former NRL star was shifted to defence in the last term, where he collected his first kick which was greeted with bronx cheers from the fans.
GWS midfielder Taylor Adams sustained a wrist injury late in first half but played through the pain, while Demon Jack Watts successfully returned from an ankle injury as the substitute.
Melbourne coach Mark Neeld's first away win essentially hands the wooden spoon to GWS, with the Giants unlikely to cause an upset in their remaining clashes with St Kilda and North Melbourne.
Fremantle skipper Matthew Pavlich suffered a series of injury scares and ruckman Aaron Sandilands made a surprise AFL return as the Dockers surged past Richmond by 22 points in Perth.
Pavlich never looked completely comfortable after grabbing at his right hamstring following a heavy collision with teammate Kepler Bradley just 12 minutes into the match.
The 276-game veteran went off several times to get treatment and by the third quarter was also receiving attention on his right groin after chasing down an opponent.
Pavlich finished on the bench as his teammates secured the 13.16 (94) to 11.6 (72) triumph, with Sandilands (33 hit-outs) and goalsneak Hayden Ballantyne (three goals) playing key roles.
Dockers midfielder Tendai Mzungu injured his shoulder late in the match, while Richmond defender Ben Griffiths was taken to hospital after being knocked unconscious in a head-first tumble to the turf in the second quarter.
Conspiracy theorists would have been going into overdrive before the bounce when emergency Sandilands was rushed into the side after ruckman Jonathon Griffin injured his groin during the warm-up.
Sandilands, who hadn't played since round 11 due to a toe injury, wasn't on the Fremantle team list released an hour before bounce down, but was always rumoured to be in the mix for a late call-up.
Coach Ross Lyon was adamant the late change wasn't planned.
"I'm in as much shock as anyone. It's certainly not a ruse. He's tweaked his groin," Lyon said of Griffin.
"He said, 'look, I'm really worried about playing'.
"I'm telling you he's sore, It's a bona fide injury. There's no ruse. It's funny how the footy gods work."
Fremantle (12-8) surged into eighth spot on the table following their sixth win from their past seven games.
But their finals credentials will be put to the test in next weekend's crunch clash with North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium.
Richmond's 11th loss of the year officially ended their hopes, with the Tigers squad failing to give coach Damien Hardwick a 40th birthday present.
Their season was best summed up by Luke McGuane's comical stuff-up while running into an open goal in the final quarter, the 25-year-old spilling the ball and soccering it into the post.
Tigers hard nut Jake King endured a painful afternoon with a couple of hard knocks but was one of his team's best with three goals.
Trent Cotchin's blistering form continued with 32 possessions and Shane Tuck battled hard, but Fremantle's fierce tackling proved too much for the inexperienced Tigers to handle.