Magpies prevail over Blues in thiller

Carlton's week of soul-searching, scrutiny and off-field drama has ended in heartbreak at the MCG, failing to overcome bitter AFL rivals Collingwood in an agonising 19-point defeat.

In a gripping end-to-end contest, the Blues led by 11 points midway through Saturday afternoon's final term at the MCG and threatened to pull off a massive upset before the Magpies surged home to claim a 16.10 (106) to 13.9 (87) victory.

The result leaves the Blues stranded at the bottom of the ladder with just one win for 2019 and four from their past 40 games.

Rising to the occasion in front of 69,289 fans, Carlton came desperately close to delivering what would have been one of their greatest wins under Brendon Bolton.

The lead changed 13 times as the Blues, led magnificently by Patrick Cripps, traded blows with the premiership pacesetters.

"We went toe to toe with a heavyweight club that's going pretty well at the moment," a shattered Bolton said.

"I just think the pressure of their midfield got on top. There was just too many entries and then we made some mistakes on the way out."

With 35 disposals, 13 clearances and a goal, Cripps was enormous in the midfield to reinforce his status as arguably the AFL's best player.

The Blues regained the ascendancy midway through the final term when Mitch McGovern booted a third-straight Carlton goal.

But just as they did on Anzac Day against Essendon, the Magpies dug deep and proved too classy when it mattered.

Jack Crisp's long-range running goal pared back the lead, Callum Brown's scrambled finish nudged the Pies ahead by a point with five minutes left, and majors to Jordan De Goey, Tom Phillips and Will Hoskin-Elliott put the result beyond doubt.

"When you get that far in, it's not about talent any more," coach Nathan Buckley said.

"It's not necessarily about structure or set-up, it's about who wants to win most. And that was us."

The outcome will be hard to swallow for Carlton supporters but, after a week that had demanded a response, the Blues provided an emphatic one.

A listless 58-point defeat to North Melbourne had raised fresh questions about Carlton's rebuild, prompting Collingwood president Eddie McGuire to suggest the Blues should consider replacing Bolton with Hawthorn maestro Alastair Clarkson.

McGuire used a radio slot to suggest Blues president Mark LoGiudice should seek out four-time premiership coach Clarkson for breakfast, with a view to luring him to Princes Park.

Thankfully for McGuire, the Blues didn't have the last laugh.

Ruckman Brodie Grundy (49 hit-outs, 25 disposals, two goals) starred for the Magpies and was instrumental in a final term in which they dominated forward entries.

Adam Treloar, Steele Sidebottom and Tom Phillips were also crucial for the Magpies, who went down a man when Chris Mayne was knocked out late in the third quarter after being accidentally kicked in the head by Sidebottom.