ACTING Greater Western Sydney captain Toby Greene kicked a monster 67-metre goal and got reported as the Giants condemned Carlton to a season-high 36-point loss.
Five straight goals either side of half-time propelled GWS to a 39-point lead on the way to a 16.6 (102) to 9.12 (66) win at Giants Stadium, lifting it one spot to ninth and within two points of eighth-placed Richmond.
GIANTS v BLUES Full match coverage and stats
The Blues, who slumped to a third straight loss and are being subjected to a mid-season review by an external panel, looked toothless in the first half, kicking just three goals.
They showed much more fight and better ball movement after the early stages of the third quarter.
Carlton kicked four quick goals and got within 12 points in the third quarter and closed to the same margin again in the fourth, but fell away badly in the final stages, a depressingly familiar pattern for fans.
Key forward Harry McKay, who didn't touch the ball in the first quarter and just twice to half-time, was prominent in the Blues fightback, kicking 3.2 a few days after the Coleman Medal leader signed a contract extension.
But GWS had more weaponry up forward and kicked five of the last six goals.
Jeremy Finlayson kicked five goals and Greene four.
Greene sent the majority of the small crowd into raptures after the first quarter siren, when he hit the target with a booming kick from just inside the centre square.
He was then reported for striking Nic Newman in an off the ball incident early in the third quarter.
Greene appeared to make contact with Newman's ribs, though it didn't seem to be too heavy.
Midfield bulls Jacob Hopper and Tim Taranto were very productive and effective for the Giants.
Underlining McKay's lack of early impact, the key forward took a mark inside the Blues’ forward 50, but fumbled the ball over the boundary line after playing on quickly.
All of Carlton's first three goals came from free kicks, awarded to Matthew Owies and Lachie Fogarty in the first quarter, and McKay in the second.
GWS laid 37 more tackles and proven tagger Matt de Boer limited the influence of Carlton's midfield big guns Sam Walsh and Patrick Cripps though each won 11 contested possessions.
Eddie Betts tallied just five touches and was held goalless, while former Giant Zac Williams had just 11 touches.
Adding to the Giants' pleasure were first AFL goals for both Isaac Cumming and Kieren Briggs, with the former doing it in his 23rd game and the latter in just his second.
Owies kicked two goals, the fifth time this season he has booted two or more in a game.
It’s not easy being Greene
Few can play the hero and the villain in one game as well as Toby Greene. When the Giants’ stand-in skipper marked outside the 50m arc and the siren sounded for quarter-time Greene went back, lined up his shot and let fly with a torpedo that sailed 67.6m for his second goal. But as much as he’s known for his brilliance, Greene is known for his brain fades too and he was reported in the third term for a round arm blow to Nic Newman’s stomach. He had another bizarre moment when he acknowledged the report by tapping the umpire on the chest, a glancing knock that is likely to be looked at by the MRO. The superstar forward finished with four goals.
When Harry met Buckley
Harry McKay might’ve expected to start his new deal with Carlton by lining up next to the Giants’ former captain Phil Davis in his first match since round three. But Leon Cameron instead trusted Jack Buckley to take on another opponent’s key forward target. The Giants’ defender had the better of McKay early, keeping him possession-less in the opening term and watching as the Blues spearhead wasted one of his few first-half opportunities with a bad bounce that dribbled over the boundary when he was clear and on his way toward goal. But McKay had the better of the battle late, kicking two goals in the third term as he led the Blues’ comeback and finishing with 3.2 and six contested marks. This is unlikely to be the only time Harry meets Buckley.
The Blues fail to tackle the critics
Carlton came into the match having won the tackle count in only two matches this season – the worst record in the competition – but with the club under the blowtorch across the bye it was expected to come out firing. Instead the Blues dished up a damp squib, going into half-time with only 20 tackles to the Giants’ 45 and bringing a noticeable lack of pressure. An incredible 12 Blues failed to lay a tackle in the first half, compared to only two Giants who hadn’t wrapped up an opponent. The Blues matched the Giants’ tackling intensity in the third term but dropped away late to finish with 41 tackles to 78.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 5.3 8.4 11.4 16.6 (102)
CARLTON 2.1 3.4 7.10 9.12 (66)
Greater Western Sydney: Finlayson 5, Greene 4, Himmelberg 2, Lloyd, Cumming, Briggs, Kelly, Hopper
Carlton: McKay 3, Owies 2, Fogarty, De Koning, Pittonet, Fisher
Greater Western Sydney: Hopper, Finlayson, Greene, Whitfield, Kelly, Taranto, De Boer
Carlton: Cripps, Kennedy, McKay, Weitering, Docherty
Greater Western Sydney: Nil
Toby Greene (GWS) reported for striking Nic Newman (Carlton) in the third quarter
Greater Western Sydney: Ash (unused)
Carlton: Newnes (replaced Parks)
Crowd: 7,035 at Giants Stadium