RISING star Zarlie Goldsworthy has steered Greater Western Sydney to a hair-raising two-point triumph over finals hopefuls Carlton at Henson Park.
With the Giants missing their strongest ball magnets in Alyce Parker (ankle) and Bec Beeson (suspension) on Saturday, the 18-year-old kicked five goals to lead GWS to its second win of the season, 8.1 (49) to 7.5 (47).
GIANTS v BLUES Full match coverage and stats
Goldsworthy worked overtime to also lay 11 tackles and gather 14 contested possessions, alongside Haneen Zreika (16 tackles) and Nicola Barr (five clearances).
"The message at three-quarter time was, 'we've been in this position a few times this year and every time we go away from our system, we fall to the other side of the result'," Giants coach Cam Bernasconi said.
"So we stuck to our system, problem solved."
Also without veterans Jess Good (ankle) and Jess Dal Poss (leg), the Blues were boosted by their own young star in Keeley Sherar (one goal, 22 disposals), with Breann Moody (23 disposals, 13 clearances) and Abbie McKay supporting (25, 11).
Blues coach Mathew Buck played down concerns his side could miss out on a first finals appearance since 2020.
"There's two games left to go and we're well and truly in the hunt," he said.
"We'll dust ourselves off from this one. I can't control what everyone else does, so we go after us."
Now on a two-game losing streak, ninth-placed Carlton will need to win their clashes against Essendon and St Kilda to secure a finals appearance.
Sherar drew first blood with a left-foot snap, but two brilliant goals by Goldsworthy and Jessica Doyle put the Giants ahead by four points at quarter-time.
Mia Austin and Imogen Milford hit back for the Blues in the second term to create a seven-point lead.
Desperate to keep Carlton close, workhorse Goldsworthy collected her eighth tackle to earn a holding-the-ball free kick.
She slotted her second major, reducing the margin to one point before half-time.
The arm wrestle continued well into the second half, with prolific Blues goalkicker Darcy Vescio booting the opening goal in a bid to break away from GWS.
With the margin reduced to two points thanks to a third-quarter goal by Emily Pease, Goldsworthy monstered the visitors with two goals in a minute.
Irishwoman Erone Fitzpatrick's and Austin's goals put Carlton back in the lead, but Goldsworthy again took matters into her own hands with her fifth.
The Giants' Jodie Hicks looked certain to extend the final margin to eight points but a last-gasp effort from Harriet Cordner kept the contest to under one goal.
With two rounds left of the home-and-away season and no hope of playing finals, 16th-placed GWS takes on Gold Coast before their final match against Port Adelaide.
The Giants may be without Brodee Mowbray, who was taken off the ground in the third term and did not return after sustaining a knee injury.
In a match that went down to the wire there was no doubt Zarlie Goldsworthy's best-on-ground performance was the difference between the two sides. The 18-year-old's five goals and 22 disposals were spread throughout the contest, but her final term was immense. Two goals in a minute to start the fourth quarter put the Giants in front for the first time since early in the second term, her third - and fifth overall - snatched the lead back again, and then her gather and centering kick set up Jodie Hicks for the sealer.
Greater Western Sydney heads north on Friday night to face a Gold Coast side keen to get back on the winners list, while Carlton's finals hopes are on the line against traditional enemy Essendon at Windy Hill on Saturday afternoon.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 2.0 3.1 4.1 8.1 (49)
CARLTON 1.2 3.2 4.3 7.5 (47)
Greater Western Sydney: Goldsworthy 5, Hicks, Doyle, Pease
Carlton: Austin, Vescio, Sherar, Milford, Fitzpatrick, Cordner
Greater Western Sydney: Goldsworthy, Zreika, Barr, Dallaway, Pease,
Carlton: Moody, McKay, Sherar, Hill, Goss
Greater Western Sydney: Mowbray (knee)
Crowd: 1,574 at Henson Park