Richmond coach Damien Hardwick sat devastated in the coach’s box minutes after Carlton stole a 14.11(95)-13.13(91) win in the final minute, a loss that effectively ends the Tigers season.
Brock McLean buried the luckiest of goals, a forward delivery which cleared the marking pack and rolled in with 42 seconds remaining, to give Carlton the slimmest of margins in a thrilling end to the Round 18 Saturday night encounter.
A one-point game for much of the final quarter, Carlton is now within a sniff of the eight with a handful of games remaining. Richmond will have a tough time making it into the top eight, where it looks as if just one spot will be up for grabs between about five teams.
The Blues kicked three goals in the final five minutes of the third to set themselves up with a handy lead heading into three-quarter time. Having not scored in the quarter, Eddie Betts got their first with five minutes left on the clock before second gamer Tom Bell converted a set shot from a tight angle. They scored again when Garlett found the sticks with just two seconds remaining in the quarter, giving Carlton a two goal lead with a quarter to play.
Tuck, Nahas, Newman, Grigg in heavy congestion and then Cotchin kicked five of the first six goals to start the fourth, but the Blues stormed back with goals to Armfield and Thornton closing the gap before McLean’s game saving roost. It was a beautiful moment for the veteran McLean; his future looked extremely uncertain heading into 2012, but he played himself into the best 22 over the last half of the season and has become an invaluable contributor.
Marc Murphy collected a game-high 36 possessions for Carlton, while Andrew Carrazzo, Brock McLean and Heath Scotland were each important. Eddie Betts led all scorers with four goals.
Richmond got off to a great start and took a small lead into quarter time, but their three midfield stars, each of whom had been dominating in one-on-one contests, were shut out of the game after the opening stanza. Martin and Cotchin finished with three apiece while Nahas and Tuck added another two each. Carlton defender Michael Jamison played the perfect defensive role on Jack Riewoldt, restricting the mercurial forward to a goalless evening.