West Coast have escaped with a 10-point victory over Carlton at Patersons Stadium tonight after almost bearing the ultimate cost of a wasteful display in front of goal.
The hosts booted 2.12 during a wasteful period across the second and third quarters when they could have delivered the knockout blow to allow the Blues back into the contest.
Carlton hit the front to lead at three-quarter time before two clutch goals from Jack Darling early in the final term snatched back the momentum and set up a defiant 10.19 (79) to 10.9 (69) win.
The result spearheaded by a sparkling performance from Nic Naitanui stretched the Eagles' formidable record at home to 17 successive wins.
They now face a mouth watering showdown against last year's grand finalist Collingwood at the MCG in eight days' time.
Significantly, the win also lifted West Coast back to the top of the premiership ladder with a 9-2 record and a gap on the chasing pack.
The only downsides for the league leaders were injuries to Will Schofield and Luke Shuey.
Schofield grabbed at his hamstring on the wing 13 minutes into the final term and left the field immediately, taking no further part in the game.
Shuey also appeared to hurt his ribs in a contest inside West Coast's defensive 50 with five minutes to play and left the ground in obvious pain.
The Blues hauled themselves back from 25 points down midway through the second quarter to hit the lead at the final break, but could not go with West Coast when their opposition lifted late.
Carlton skipper Chris Judd had a dirty night against his old side.
He finished with just 11 disposals and uncharacteristically dropped an uncontested mark on the wing under no pressure.
Judd then chopped the arms of Dean Cox in a crucial marking contest in the final term, with the Eagles ruckman kicking a subsequent goal to effectively snuff out the opposition's hopes.
Matt Priddis and Scott Selwood were dominant around the stoppages, but did not quite match Naitanui's athletic brilliance.
Darling, whose two goals in the space of three minutes hauled the Eagles out of a runt, could become the latest player cited by the AFL match review panel for staging.The young Eagle threw back his head to intimate high contact as he was tackled on the forward 50m arc, but video replays showed his opponent had only caught him around the waist.
Key Blue Andrew Carrazzo looked like a man who had returned too early from a fractured right shoulder blade early, but soon worked his way into the contest
The 28-year-old was initially sent to Shannon Hurn before being thrown into the middle, with his 10 disposals for the second term helping lift Carlton.
Each club had earlier made one late change.
Tom Swift came in as the substitute to replace Sam Butler (hamstring), while Carlton opted to go smaller in the wet conditions by bringing in Aaron Joseph for Shaun Hampson.
Blues' fans witnessed an encouraging sign early as Chris Yarran exploded off a wing with the ball, took several bounces and almost kicked a long-range goal.
However, it was Matthew Kreuzer who produced the game's first major.
The 200cm ruckman showed his superb athleticism by scooping up a ground level ball and snapping truly from deep in the left pocket seven minutes into the contest.
West Coast's pressure soon started to tell.
They got their first courtesy of a mark and set shot to Quinten Lynch before a costly 50m penalty allowed Daniel Kerr to convert from 15m out and give the hosts the lead.
A late goal to Andrew Walker ensured Carlton only trailed by six points at the first change, but the differential in disposals was alarming with the Eagles having 31 more possessions for the quarter.
Even Judd battled to find the ball.
His first and only touch for the term came at the 28-minute mark and was a scrambled kick away from a stoppage and inside 50.
It took a free kick for a dubious holding the ball decision to produce the second quarter's first goal in the form of a major to Darling.
The only thing killing the Eagles was their accuracy.
They booted 2.9 to 2.1 for the term and could have had the match virtually in their keeping at half time if they'd nailed all their chances.
It opened the door and Carlton pounced.
The visitors strung five consecutive goals together either side of half time as their intensity lifted.
Irishman Zac Tuohy's thumping set shot from 60m out almost 20 minutes into the third quarter put Carlton back in front.
Their ability to think their way through West Coast's forward press was obvious, as was the drop off in intensity from the Eagles.The Blues held a narrow three-point lead at three-quarter time, but their third consecutive six-day break appeared to tell late as West Coast kicked four of the final six goals to triumph.
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