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AFL: Carlton set up Demons showdown

Carlton's hot streak of form continued as they booked a semi-final spot against Melbourne and ended Sydney's AFL season in the process.

The Blues have been flying in the closing weeks of the season but were pushed all the way by the Swans, before edging to a six-point win at the MCG on Friday night.

For Carlton it means a semi-final clash against Melbourne, who lost to Collingwood on Thursday, while Sydney’s campaign is now over.

John Longmire’s side went down fighting but fell short and there will be no repeat of their grand final appearance against Geelong in 2022.

Carlton hang on to keep season alive

Just like Collingwood in Thursday night’s prelim, Carlton had to survive a late onslaught before progressing through.

Sydney booted seven goals in the final two quarters, compared to Carlton’s four, but it was too little too late.

When the Swans kicked their last goal of the night, to close the gap to six points, there were just 25 seconds left on the clock and Carlton saw the job through.

Blues share the load

Charlie Curnow has been the star forward for Carlton this season when winning back-to-back Coleman medals.

However on Friday night, Carlton shared the love and that will bode well for the rest of the finals campaign. They booted 11 goals from nine different players. Matthew Cottrell and Jack Martin were the players to kick two.

Patrick Cripps, who was making his first finals in 180 appearances for the club, also marked the occasion with a goal.

Acres the star man

Carlton had some top performances all over the pitch, but it was Blake Acres, who stood above the rest.

He saved the Blues on a couple of occasions as the Swans were fighting back and covered every blade of grass.

Then to cap a great night, he booted the goals that effectively booked Carlton’s place in the semi-finals.

McKay concern for Carlton

The Blues picked up their first win in finals since 2003, but the victory was soured by an injury to star forward Harry McKay.

McKay had a bruising night after being involved in a fierce battle with the Sydney forwards, and was forced to leave the field and watch the final quarter from the sidelines.

Carlton now face an anxious wait to discover the extent of the damage. McKay took a blow to the ribs, but is also suspected to have suffered a concussion.

This has yet to be confirmed or denied by the Blues, but if it is concussion, then McKay will be out of the semi-final showdown against the Demons.

Meanwhile, Carlton also have worries over Jack Martin, who could be looking at a suspension.

Martin caught Sydney’s Nick Blakey with a swinging arm and the tribunal will certainly be taking a look at it, leaving him with an anxious wait.

Back to the drawing board for Swans

Sydney can be proud of the way they hung in the game when it looked as though Carlton might run away with it.

A couple of calls may also have gone against them, but they never gave up and pushed Carlton all the way, earning praise from Blues star Cripps.

Now it will be time to go away, rest, reflect, learn and get ready to come back stronger in 2024.

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