Carlton survived a spirited Greater Western Sydney fightback to spoil Leon Cameron’s farewell with a 30-point victory at Giants Stadium on Sunday.
The Giants were looking to send Cameron off in style in his 193rd and final game as head coach after his resignation last week, but it was the Blues who looked more inspired as they kicked five goals to one in the last quarter to triumph 15.15 (105) to 11.9 (75).
The win came at a cost for the Blues as Zac Williams sustained a nasty lower leg injury and was in tears as he had to be helped from the field.
The Giants were expected to come out firing in Cameron’s last match in charge but the Blues started brighter and put 4.2 on the scoreboard before GWS even moved the ball into their forward 50.
The home team gradually worked their way back into the contest to be level at the main break and only trailed by a goal at the last change.
But the Giants were never quite able to claim the lead as the Carlton eventually overpowered them to move to a 7-2 record and finish round nine in the top-four.
Charlie Curnow kicked two crucial goals early in the final term after being well-held by Giants defender Sam Taylor, while Sam Walsh, Corey Durdin, Jack Silvagni and Zac Fisher also booted two majors in an impressive team performance for the Blues.
“That was a significant win for us. When you take into consideration the story around the game, the significance for GWS and the significance that Leon has been for this football club,” Carlton coach Michael Voss said.
“I’m sure they would’ve been really, really keen to send him out on the right note. The way we played tonight was a real step forward for us.”
Co-captain Josh Kelly (36 disposals, one goal) looked to inspire the Giants throughout, while Braydon Preuss was also crucial to the comeback in his first match as sole ruckman for the club.
Toby Greene, Harry Himmelberg and Jake Riccardi each kicked two goals to keep the Giants in the contest but the Blues dominated the contested ball to take that count 164-129 and were more direct with 64-47 inside-50s.
“Every time we clawed back, they put the foot down and got a hold of us, which then led to them breaking away in the last quarter,” Cameron said.
“It’s disappointing. I said to our players afterwards, it’s a really disappointing way to finish, you can ramble on about it but I could see it in their eyes.”
Carlton had to do without Williams for much of the match after the gun defender was injured moments before quarter-time and had to be subbed out of the game.
The former Giant was running toward a marking contest in the Blues’ defensive 50 when he fell to ground with no one near him and immediately clutched at his lower leg.
Carlton officials were hopeful Williams had not injured his Achilles but will find out more from scans early in the week.
While the Giants weren’t able to send Cameron off with a victory, both clubs formed a guard of honour for the coach as he walked from the field after the final siren.
The Blues have a short turnaround for their Friday night match against Sydney while the Giants start life under interim coach Mark McVeigh against West Coast at Giants Stadium on Sunday.