Phew. We're back in the eight.

This was a strange, strange game but while the GIANTS didn’t play the sort of football they wanted to play for three quarters they ended the game where they wanted and needed to be: in front and back up in the top half of the ladder. After struggling to match Carlton in the contested possession count the GIANTS lifted as a team in that area and kicked four goals on the back of some excellent individual efforts as well. There was Matt de Boer, getting the ball to ground in a 1 v 3 in the middle of the ground, which led to Jake Riccardi’s first goal and the GIANTS’ third for the game. There was Riccardi’s gutsy contested mark and second goal from outside 50 one minute later, and his clever tap on which went via Daniel Lloyd to Bobby Hill for another goal. And there was Harry Perryman, who put the team in front with a desperate spoil inside 50, sprinting onto it to kick his first goal for the night and put the GIANTS in front for the first time in a long time.

Missed opportunities

The GIANTS have been consistently inconsistent in front of goal this year, and not for the first time had to chase down an opposition lead. The team dominated the inside 50s early on, but could get just one first-quarter goal on the board, whereas Carlton made the most of their minimal early chances, scoring four goals from their seven inside 50 entries for the quarter. At quarter time it was 1.5 at half-time it was 1.9, at three-quarter time it was 2.11, and then, suddenly, came four goals from five shots in the final term. It was Carlton who then started to miss some opportunities, with the GIANTS’ defenders making some huge efforts across the night and especially in the last few minutes. Nick Haynes led the way from the start right through to his big intercept mark in the last two minutes, taking eight grabs for the night.

Binga and Bobby

The GIANTS lacked spark for much of the evening, but Brent Daniels did his best to get the team going from the very start. Goals have been tough to come by for Daniels this year but when the game was moving slowly he played with constant energy and zip, trying to get things happening every time he went near the ball. His determination has been impossible to question this year. The speed and work rate of Hill made a difference too, most notably when he won the race against two Blues to get on the end of Lloyd’s pass late in the last quarter.

The milestone men

This was an important win for the GIANTS given what was at stake, but they also made sure they could celebrate some milestones. Seven years after joining the GIANTS from Sydney – and back from a one-year retirement a little while back – Shane Mumford racked up AFL game No. 200, his 100th for the GIANTS. And together, GIANTS Academy graduates Harry Perryman and Jeremy Finlayson reached game No. 50. Mumford had 23 hit-outs to Marc Pittonet’s 20 in his milestone match and took one important mark in the middle of the ground, with Perryman’s final quarter effort crucial to the win and Finlayson keeping the scoreboard ticking over with his third quarter snap. His run continues: he has kicked at least one goal in every game he has played this season.

The backline

Haynes’ ability to cut Carlton off time and time again was critical, particularly given how many forward entries – 49 – the Blues were able to generate and how well they marked the ball at times. They missed plenty of shots too, which helped the GIANTS get over the line. But Haynes was huge and had lots of help: the GIANTS made it hard for the Blues by pushing numbers back to support each other when times were tough down back and they were under some real heat. There was a Heath Shaw smother, some lunging Lachie Keeffe spoils, and some cool-headed kicks from Lachie Ash. The pressure was on and somehow, they kept finding a way to hold Carlton out.

Up next

The short breaks are upon us, with a trip to Adelaide to play the Crows coming up next Tuesday night. After notching their first win for the season against Hawthorn this week, they’ll be up and about under new coach Matthew Nicks. From there it will be back to Queensland, with the GIANTS to play Melbourne and St Kilda in the final two rounds.