The GIANTS’ three-game VFL winning streak was snapped by the Blues in Blacktown on Saturday in an exciting clash full of momentum swings. 

The GIANTS were gunning for four straight victories but it was not to be as Carlton fought back from an early deficit with a strong final term to set up the 21-point victory.

After multiple lead changes and just seven points separating the sides at the final change, the Blues kicked four goals in just seven minutes to open the final term and race to an 18-point lead that the GIANTS could not overcome.

While they refused to surrender, with goals from Callum Brown and Riley Hamilton cutting the deficit to five points midway through the last term, the Blues kicked three of the final four majors from there to register a 17.12 (114) to 14.9 (93) victory.

AFL duo Nick Haynes (32 touches, 13 marks) and Jacob Wehr (23 touches, 11 marks) were standouts despite the loss, with Wehr running rampant and dancing around opponents on the wing all day, while Haynes starred in his return from a hamstring injury with countless intercept possessions.

Recent draftee James Leake (24 touches, six marks, eight tackles, four clearances) continued his rapid development, with the exciting Tasmanian prospect putting in another impressive performance in his third appearance in GIANTS colours following an injury interrupted pre-season.

Tough midfielder Xavier O’Halloran was strong once again to finish with 23 touches, seven tackles and eight clearances, while Conor Stone (28 touches, seven marks, six tackles) was another valuable contributor in his role down back.

Irishman Brown put in a strong second half to finish with 18 touches, five marks and two goals in his first VFL game of the year, while Max Gruzewski was strong in the air to finish with 15 touches, eight marks and a goal in his first game back at VFL level following his recent AFL debut.

Meanwhile Nathan Wardius put in his best performance as a GIANT as he continues to build following an injury interrupted pre-season, with the exciting medium forward finishing with 14 touches, nine marks and three goals in an impressive display.

Reliable winger Ryan Angwin (24 touches, six marks) was also a solid contributor in his VFL return, as was Adam Kennedy (22 touches, nine marks) who put in his best performance yet in his third game back from more than 14 months out with an ACL injury.

GIANTS VFL skipper Ryan Hebron (23 disposals, 11 marks) was also one of the GIANTS’ best, registering countless intercept possessions and spoils deep in defence in his 50th game for the club.

Despite the loss it was the GIANTS who were on top early, with goals to Lachlan Keeffe, Nic Quigg and Tom McCaffrey giving the home side a 12-point lead at the first break.

One of many momentum swings to come, the Blues bounced back with three straight majors to start the second term before the GIANTS responded with the next three goals of their own through GIANTS Academy forward Riley Hamiton, Manly local Kale Gabila and Wardius.

It was then the Blues’ turn again as they ended the second term with another three straight majors to hold a seven-point advantage at the main break.

After the visitors kicked the opening goal of the second half to stretch their lead to 12, Keeffe and McCaffrey both kicked their second majors before Brown kicked his first goal of the day to give the GIANTS a seven-point lead midway through the third term of a see-sawing contest.

The sides traded blows for the final four majors of the third quarter, with Gruzewski goaling after dancing around an opponent at the top of the goal square, before a clever toe poke from Keeffe set up Wardius for his second major to give the GIANTS a seven-point lead at the final break – a lead they would soon lose to the fast-finishing Blues.

With a bye next week, the GIANTS will continue their finals push in Blacktown in round 17 against the Gold Coast Suns.

VFL Round 15 

GIANTS:  3.3  6.3  11.6   14.9 (93)
Blues:  1.3  7.4   10.5   17.12 (114)


GIANTS:  Wardius 3, Brown 2, Hamilton 2, Keeffe 2, McCaffrey 2, Gruzewski, Gabila, Quigg
Blues:  Motlop 4, White 3, McMahon 2, Lemmey 2, Cahill, Carroll, Maher, Binns, Moir, Nelson