Carlton spoiled Leon Cameron's farewell party and cemented a spot in the top four after an impressive 30-point victory against the GIANTS at GIANTS Stadium.
The Blues notched up their seventh win of the season and are a game clear in fourth after defeating the GIANTS 15.5 (105) to 11.9 (75) in what was Cameron's final game in charge of the GIANTS, following his decision to stand down earlier in the week.
Cameron delivered an emotional pre-game address, but it was the Blues who burst out of the blocks, kicking the first four goals of the game. They dominated most of the opening term, but after leading by 27 points at the 25-minute mark, the visitors' advantage was just 12 points at the first change.
Underlying Carlton's dominance, the Blues had 22 inside 50s to 11 in the first quarter, while it took the GIANTS 16 minutes to register their first goal.
Carlton lost defender Zac Williams late in the quarter, with the former GIANT helped from the ground after suffering a lower leg injury.
It was a different story in the second quarter, with the GIANTS on top for the majority, thanks largely to the influence of ruckman Braydon Preuss (44 hitouts), who had his way with Tom De Koning, and silky midfielder Josh Kelly (36 disposals and a goal).
After the GIANTS kicked four goals to two, the score was tied up at half-time.
An entertaining and see-sawing third quarter was highlighted by Carlton debutant Jesse Motlop's first goal, the son of former Port Adelaide and North Melbourne player Daniel slotting a set shot from 20 metres out.
After both sides kicked three goals for the term, Carlton swung for home six points to the good, but its advantage should have been greater after kicking 3.7.
With the game up for grabs, Carlton's leaders stood tall, with skipper Patrick Cripps (26 touches, seven clearances, six inside 50s), Sam Walsh (31 disposals, two goals, four clearances), Jacob Weitering (19 possessions, nine intercepts) and Charlie Curnow (two goals) all pivotal in the final term.
The Blues kicked five goals to one to notch their first victory at GIANTS Stadium, snapping a five-game losing streak against the GIANTS.
After taking the reins of the GIANTS at the start of the 2014 season, Cameron bows out with a record of 101 wins, 88 losses and four draws. He led the GIANTS to finals between 2016-2019, and after missing September in 2020, they returned last year and beat Sydney in an elimination final. After consecutive preliminary final losses in 2016 and 2017, Cameron led the club to its first Grand Final appearance in 2019. Speaking to Channel 7 pre-game, Cameron said he remains comfortable with his decision to stand down. "I think the timing is right, I've been here for 10 years. It gives the breathing space to the club to then work out what's going to happen next," he said. "Those finals were great, that's why we play footy, we want to play finals footy; we played five out of six years and unfortunately just didn't get the result we were after."
Injury woe for Williams
Carlton defender Zac Williams looks set for a stint on the sidelines after suffering what appeared to be a nasty lower leg injury during the first quarter. Williams' left leg seemed to give way while he was running by himself in the defensive 50m. He was writhing in pain and had to be helped from the ground by trainers. As he was having the injury assessed, Williams cut a forlorn figure on the bench with a towel covering his face as he fought back tears. In 2018, while playing for the GIANTS, Williams ruptured his Achilles tendon at training. He missed the entire home and away season, before returning for two finals.
Don't sleep on Cooper Hamilton
One of the shining lights in what has been a dull and dreary season for the GIANTS is the emergence of first-year player Cooper Hamilton. A 2021 rookie elevation (pick 13), Hamilton has played three consecutive games, and on Sunday, he tallied a career-best 19 disposals (at 84 per cent). More important than his disposal tally, though, was his ability to read the game and cut off a couple of Carlton attacking plays. He reads the game well and has a touch of class. The 18-year-old also laid three tackles, had two stoppage clearances and three intercept possessions.
GIANTS 3.3 7.5 10.6 11.9 (75)
CARLTON 5.3 7.5 10.12 15.5 (105)
GIANTS: Greene 2, Himmelberg 2, Riccardi 2, Callaghan, Kennedy, Perryman, Kelly, Ward
Carlton: Curnow 2, Durdin 2, Fisher 2, Silvagni 2, Walsh 2, De Koning, Docherty, Kennedy, Motlop, O'Brien
GIANTS: Kelly, Preuss, Taylor, Green, Perryman, Cumming
Carlton: Silvagni, Weitering, Walsh, Docherty, Cripps, Fisher, Hewett
GIANTS: Stone (leg)
Carlton: Williams (ankle)
Greater Western Sydney: Bobby Hill (replaced Conor Stone during fourth quarter)
Carlton: Matthew Cottrell (replaced Williams during first quarter)
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