McKay hurt as Blues edge Swans in AFL finals thriller


Carlton have lost key forward Harry McKay to concussion as they celebrated their first AFL finals appearance in a decade with a tense six-point win over Sydney that keeps their premiership dream alive.

The Blues led by 28 points during time-on of the third quarter but had to endure some nervous moments before hanging on for an 11.8 (74) to 9.14 (68) victory in Friday night's elimination final at the MCG.

Michael Voss's men will next meet Melbourne in a knockout semi-final as they continue their bid to end a 28-year flag drought.

They will do so without McKay, who was subbed out after he was hurt in a third-quarter marking contest, while Jack Martin faces scrutiny over a high hit on Nick Blakey.

Sam Walsh (29 disposals), Blake Acres (26), former Swan George Hewett (25) and reliable defender Jacob Weitering were among the Blues' best in front of 92,026 fans.

Martin and Matthew Cottrell stood up with two goals each, while Coleman medallist Charlie Curnow managed just one and captain Patrick Cripps (21 touches, one goal) was restricted by Callum Mills.

McKay had a dirty night, missing two shots from the top of the goal square before he left the field under assistance from trainers.

In doubt with a shoulder injury before the finals, Acres twice made crucial plays in the second half when he dove to touch Sydney shots on the goal line.

Both were ultimately ruled behinds after video reviews, leading Swans coach John Longmire to question the available technology post-match.

Acres also gave Carlton vital breathing space when he strolled into an open goal with five minutes left to play before Hayden McLean's late major gave the Swans a sniff.

They had 25 seconds to kick a tying goal and send the match to extra-time but the desperate Blues survived.

"We won with defensive resilience and I think we won on heart," Voss said.

"The last minute and a bit was interesting, it had everything. It had big moments, it had mistakes, but somehow we hung on.

"I guess that's what finals footy is all about."

Sydney were well served by young star Errol Gulden (23 disposals, two goals), while defender Tom McCartin and retiring ruckman Tom Hickey also fought hard.

Luke Parker and Logan McDonald kicked two goals each.

The Swans had 15 scoring shots to seven in the second half but rued a horror second quarter, when the Blues dominated contested ball (43-26) and kicked away to a five-goal lead.

"We kicked 2.5 in the last quarter and it makes a difference, those moments," Sydney coach John Longmire said.

"The second quarter, they got on top. We needed to make better of our chances - we suffered a bit from that last week as well.

"We were good at it for quite a while this year and then the last couple of weeks it's been costly.

"In the end, you have to take your chances, because both teams will have moments."