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Match report: 'Kreuz' leads Blues to Giant win

Highlights: Carlton v GWS The Blues and Giants clash in round 12
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 11: Matthew Kreuzer of the Blues celebrates a goal in his 150th game during the 2017 AFL round 12 match between the Carlton Blues and the GWS Giants at Etihad Stadium on June 11, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
There was plenty to like in Matthew Kreuzer's 150th game

CARLTON has knocked Greater Western Sydney off the top of the ladder, hanging on for a thrilling one-point win after leading for most of the second half on Sunday at Etihad Stadium.

The Blues entered Sunday's clash in 17th spot on the ladder, while GWS was heavily favoured to win and reclaim top spot from Adelaide. 

However, Brendon Bolton's men continued round 12's run of upsets, leading at every change on their way to a deserved 10.11 (71) to 9.16 (70) win.

Full match coverage and stats 

Matthew Kreuzer led from the front in his 150th game, inspiring Carlton in a tense final term with a diesel-powered work rate that never wavered. 

Carlton's pressure and intensity meant the Giants never had the game on their terms, but the visitors looked set to snatch victory at stages during the last quarter.

After trailing from the 23-minute mark of the second term, Dylan Shiel put his team back in front after goaling four-and-a-half minutes into the final term.

Jed Lamb, playing his first senior game for the season, calmly converted a set shot from 40m to put the Blues back in front two minutes later, and Matthew Wright extended the margin to seven points at the 13-minute mark. 

Five talking points: Carlton v Greater Western Sydney

But the Giants kept coming. Shiel kicked his second major of the term at the 18-minute mark to put them just two points down and a run of three behinds – two to Toby Greene – had them one point up four minutes later. 

Levi Casboult missed a 40m set shot soon after to level the scores before Zac Fisher kicked what would be the winning behind less than a minute later. 

Greene had one last chance to set up a Giants shot on goal, but missed Heath Shaw with a pass inside 50.

WATCH: The last two minutes 

Kreuzer continued his outstanding 2017 form, taking a decisive decision over GWS counterpart Shane Mumford with 21 possessions, 33 hit-outs, six marks and a goal.   

Sam Docherty (35 possessions, nine rebound 50s and 12 marks) was a constant playmaker across half-back for the Blues and was ably supported by Kade Simpson (20 disposals and four rebound 50s), while Marc Murphy (30 possessions) was the Blues' prime mover through the midfield.

Liam Jones enjoyed a feel-good return in his first senior game since round 23 last season, excelling in a new role in defence, combining well with fellow talls Caleb Marchbank and Jacob Weitering to keep Giants spearheads Jeremy Cameron and Jonathon Patton quiet.

WATCH: New-look Jones sets the tone

Carlton coach Brendon Bolton was pleased his team was able to hang on for the victory after working so hard all day.

"It's pleasing that our guys dug deep and got a reward for effort. I'm really happy for them because they've been trying so hard … and it was great reward for effort to finally get one," Bolton said

"We've still got a lot of learning to do and we've got some improvement. 

"I thought we didn't complete plays at times today that we should have. I thought we lost the ball a bit in congestion instead of securing it, so they're some growth areas. But togetherness is a good thing to have as a footy club."

Dylan Shiel (32 possessions and two goals) was the Giants' best player, while Josh Kelly and Callan Ward (both 29 possessions) worked tirelessly through the midfield. 

Greene (23 possessions and seven inside 50s) was influential in attack, but his uncharacteristic 0.5 return in front of goal proved costly. 

WATCH: Greene's final-quarter fades

GWS coach Leon Cameron said he and his coaching staff had entered the game thinking it would be decided by one or two goals, but was disappointed by his team's inability to execute their plans to cut through the Blues' miserly defence. 

"Carlton deserved to win tonight and they just did the right things at the right time and a little bit better than what we did," Cameron said.

"We had a chance in the last minute or two, but I think that summed up our day though. Normally we probably make some better decisions in that situation and we didn't. So credit to them, they came with a clear plan and played a better brand of footy than us. 

"There were some key indicators that pointed to us winning the game, but at the end of the day I think the real crucial moments they handled a little bit better than what we did."

The Giants controlled general play in the opening term, winning the clearances 11-3 and the inside 50s 16-6.

But Carlton was highly efficient in attack, scoring from all but the one of its inside 50s, the Blues' 4.1 return, which included an after-the-siren goal from David Cuningham, sending them into the first break with a seven-point lead. 

The Giants were wasteful in comparison, their 2.6 scoreline at quarter-time including a Greene behind that hit the post. 

Bryce Gibbs kicked Carlton's third unanswered goal early in the second term to stretch its lead to 13 points, a margin Dale Thomas extended to 14 points with a behind two minutes later. 

GWS hit back soon after with three goals in five minutes, each coming after brilliant individual efforts, from Cameron (a strong mark and set shot from outside 50m), Ward (smothered Thomas, swooped on the crumbs and snapped truly on his left foot) and Tim Taranto (a 45m set shot from the boundary).   

Taranto's goal put the Giants four points up at the 14-minute mark, but Carlton soon signalled it wasn't about to revert to the pre-game script of top dog outclasses underdog, with Cuningham kicking his second major two minutes later to put the Blues back in front by two points. 

Jack Silvagni kicked the final goal of the quarter after pinging Lachie Whitfield in a tackle, to help send Carlton into the main break with an eight-point lead, a margin that would have been greater had Kade Simpson and Gibbs converted relatively easy shots on goal in the dying minutes. 

Carlton: Alex Silvagni came off early in the first quarter with a left leg injury and went straight down to the Blues' rooms. The key defender returned to the Blues' interchange bench at the start of the second term with strapping around his left knee, but had donned a tracksuit top before half-time and did not play any further part in the match. Carlton coach Brendon Bolton said Silvagni had twisted his knee and would undergo scans to determine the extent of the damage on Monday.

Greater Western Sydney: Phil Davis left the ground midway through the first quarter favouring his left ankle and appeared to be in some pain. The Giants' co-captain returned to the field soon after, but did not appear to be moving freely and spent an extended stint on the interchange back towards the end of the second quarter. Davis started on the ground in the third term and bravely played out the game despite being in obvious discomfort. Giants coach Leon Cameron said after the game Davis would be available to play in round 14 against the Brisbane Lions. 

The Blues travel to take on the Suns at Metricon Stadium next Saturday night, having lost two of the teams' three encounters at the Gold Coast venue. The Giants have a bye. 

CARLTON   4.1   7.4   8.7   10.11   (71)
GWS            2.6   5.8   7.9    9.16    (70) 

Carlton: Cuningham 2, Wright 2, J.Silvagni, Lamb, Casboult, Curnow, Gibbs, Kreuzer
GWS: Patton 2, Shiel 2, Taranto, Cameron, de Boer, Ward, Whitfield

Carlton: Kreuzer, Docherty, Jones, Marchbank, Simpson, Gibbs, Murphy  
GWS: Shiel, Kelly, Ward, Greene, Whitfield   

Carlton: A.Silvagni (leg)
GWS: Davis (ankle)  

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Dalgleish, O'Gorman, Nicholls, Findlay

Official crowd: 23,194 at Etihad Stadium