Tom De Koning celebrates a goal during Carlton's clash against Greater Western Sydney in round six, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

LAST year wasn't a fluke.

Carlton is most certainly the real deal.

After an extraordinary run of six goals in 14 minutes in the third term, the Blues twice hauled in 20-point margins to overrun ladder-leading and previously undefeated Greater Western Sydney, winning by 19 in a 17.15 (117) to 15.8 (98) result at a packed Marvel Stadium.

BLUES v GIANTS Full match coverage and stats

Classy Giants winger Josh Kelly – one of his side's best – had kicked two goals in 90 seconds halfway through the third to help build out a second 20-point buffer.

But Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay responded by kicking goals for the first time all match, and then Curnow and McKay and Curnow again, and suddenly Blues fans were lifting the roof off the stadium with their voice and drums as they hit the front.

They were never headed from there.


Curnow – disposal-less in the opening term, matched up mostly against Jack Buckley – had started the second with a sense of urgency, but rushed himself in his desperation to get going, kicking four behinds in that single quarter.

Meanwhile, the Giants gradually chipped away in a methodical manner, calmly picking out options by hand and foot – moving the ball at pace, but never rushed, racking up 5.3 for the term. It was their best period of play for the game.


Curnow was sent to the backline in the final minutes to successfully stem the flow, while Ollie Hollands and Tom De Koning hauled the margin back to nine at the main break, saving Blues fans from being consigned back to the tortured Carlton department.

The Giants' tackling pressure through the second and start of the third term was simply superb, putting a brake on Carlton's clearance work and briefly creating a brick wall across their defensive 50, but they weren't able to hold back the dam wall for the full game.


Leek Aleer – playing his first game in 609 days, replacing the concussed Sam Taylor – had an intriguing battle with McKay, recording 10 spoils in the first half and holding the star goalless until halfway through the third.

Carlton superstar Sam Walsh's sharp return from a back injury continued, adding 35 disposals and six clearances to the 34 he recorded last week.

Jacob Weitering suffered a corked quad just seconds before half-time, but more concerningly, Zac Williams was subbed off after suffering what the club described as a "knock" to his Achilles tendon.

Carlton clearance machine
The Blues midfield dictated play from the opening bounce, leading the clearance count by seven at quarter-time (Patrick Cripps with five off his own boot), and extending that to 12 at the half, finishing 16 to the good. Cripps brought his own footy, recording 39 and 13 clearances. The ruck double act of Marc Pittonet and De Koning did well to quell the influence of Kieren Briggs, with Jake Riccardi struggling to have an impact in the middle when rolled through.

TDK does it all
The Giants were in scintillating touch in the second term, racing out to a 20-point lead. Threatening to make life incredibly difficult for the Blues and push out even further, a piece of magic from 204cm De Koning helped keep his side in the game. He tapped the ball behind his head at a centre bounce, George Hewett not needing to break stride to gather the clearance. But the ruck's work wasn't done, pushing forward to collect the eventual crumb at the foot of his tall targets and kicking truly in an awkward position, cutting the margin to 10. He kicked three for the game.


Toby Tribunal watch?
All eyes will be on the MRO's report on Sunday after Toby Greene collected Jordan Boyd in the head while the pair attempted to mark the footy. Greene was coming towards the ball, jumping to mark but turning his body side-on to protect himself, as Boyd ran back with the flight. Greene's elbow appeared to collect Boyd's cheekbone, the Blue hitting the deck but playing out the game. The impact was not as severe as Peter Wright's four-match suspension earlier this year, but the incidents had some similarities.



CARLTON                                      5.1     7.7     14.10     17.15 (117)  
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY       4.1     9.4      12.7        15.8 (98)  

Carlton: McKay 3, De Koning 3, Curnow 3, E.Hollands 2, Durdin 2, Owies, Kennedy, O.Hollands, Cottrell
Greater Western Sydney:
Riccardi 3, Kelly 3, Hogan 3, Bedford 2, Peatling, Daniels, Cadman, Buckley

Carlton: Cripps, Walsh, De Koning, Curnow, McKay, Pittonet
Greater Western Sydney:
Green, Kelly, Hogan, Aleer, Whitfield

Carlton: Williams (Achilles knock), Weitering (corked quad)
Greater Western Sydney:

Carlton: Jack Carroll (replaced Zac Williams at half-time)
Greater Western Sydney:
James Peatling (replaced Xavier O'Halloran at three-quarter time)

Crowd: 40,474 at Marvel Stadium