Greater Western Sydney will be looking to send departing coach Leon Cameron out on a high as he coaches his 180th and final game for the club.
The Giants (2-6, 79.9%) confirmed this week Cameron and the club had mutually decided to part ways following round nine, after which assistant coach Mark McVeigh will step in as caretaker.
Carlton (6-2, 111.4%) could finish the round a clear game of fifth with a win, but have lost the last five games against the Giants and are without star forward Harry McKay due to injury.
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Cameron delivered an emotional pre-game address to his players.
“I don’t have any regrets boys. What has happened is you guys,” Cameron told his Giants players pre-game.
“I’ve got relationships here, from coaches, staff and players, that will last a long time – that will last a lifetime.
“What you’ve done for me – I know it’s my last game, it’s hard not to make it about myself – is unbelievable. So today we play – play the game we love, play the game we’re supposed to play.”
There were no late changes for either side, with Bobby Hill (GWS) and Matt Cottrell (Carlton) named the medical subs.
This match gets underground at 3:20pm AEST from GIANTS Stadium.
Watch it live on Fox Footy (channel 504) from 3pm AEST.
QUARTER-BY-QUARTER MATCH REPORT
The Blues got the perfect start, with Corey Durdin producing a sensational snap to kick the first goal of the game before star midfielder Sam Walsh conjured the second goal minutes later.
And when Walsh snapped his second goal, the relentless Blues had shot out to a 20-point lead, with the Giants failing to have a disposal in their forward half across the first seven minutes.
Key forward Tom De Koning then flew high inside 50 to take a towering mark before converting a tough set-shot opportunity to give the Blues a 26-point lead over the scoreless and shell-shocked Giants.
“This is not going to script in Leon Cameron’s final match,” Channel 7 commentator Alister Nicholson said.
“This is so, so disappointing for the Giants.”
Brian Taylor added: “Carlton are blistering at the moment … This is an absolute mess at the moment for the Giants.”
The Giants then started win more of the ball. Third-gamer Cooper Hamilton attempted to set the tone for his side with a courageous contested mark, which led to his side’s first major through Callan Ward.
The Giants’ joy was momentarily interrupted as Zac Fisher produced a brilliant individual effort, baulking a few Giants defenders then nailing a long-range left-foot goal.
But co-captain Toby Greene injected himself into the game late in the first term, kicking two classy goals to reduce the margin to two goals at the first change.
There was a significant sour moment late in the first term, with Giant-turned-Blue Zac Williams limped off the ground after innoculously falling to the ground. It appeared Williams had injured his Achilles, sparking heartbreaking scenes.
Williams was subbed out of the game at quarter-time and replaced by Cottrell.
The Giants got the fast start in the second term, with Jake Riccardi taking a strong mark and kicking the Giants’ fourth goal to reduce the margin to a kick.
Carlton got the quick reply, with the Blues showing great link-up play and Durdin rewarded with his second major. But Harry Himmelberg answered to cut Carlton’s lead again.
While the Blues were dominating on the inside, the Giants were getting on top in the uncontested possession count, allowing them to spend more time inside their front half.
“Things are just unraveling a bit now for Carlton,” Nicholson said.
It took a brilliant, special individual effort from Jack Silvagni for the Blues to break through the Giants’ wall, shrugging off his opponent in the pocket then nailing a checkside snap to give the Blues much needed breathing space.
But the Giants’ grinding comeback continued. Defender Adam Kennedy launched a long bomb to kick just his 14th AFL career goal, before Josh Kelly added another to draw scores level at 47 apiece at half-time.
THE 3-2-1 …
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