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Carlton has overcome the absence of its star forward and the emotion of rival coach’s Leon Cameron 193rd and final game in charge of the Giants to finish Round 9 in the top four.

Despite missing reigning Coleman Medallist Harry McKay, the Blues blitzed Cameron’s Giants in the first term, booting the first four goals of the match to set the tone and set up a 30-point win.

And despite a few mid-game Giants surges, the Blues ran away with the game in the fourth term thanks to two crucial Charlie Curnow goals, before Sam Docherty sealed the win with a towering goal from inside the centre square to run out 15.15 (105) to 11.9 (75) winners.

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QUARTER-BY-QUARTER MATCH REPORT

There were no late changes for either side, with Bobby Hill (GWS) and Matt Cottrell (Carlton) named the medical subs.

Cameron delivered an emotional pre-game address to his players.

“I don’t have any regrets boys. What has happened is you guys,” Cameron told his Giants players pre-game.

“I’ve got relationships here, from coaches, staff and players, that will last a long time – that will last a lifetime.

“What you‘ve done for me – I know it’s my last game, it’s hard not to make it about myself – is unbelievable. So today we play – play the game we love, play the game we’re supposed to play.”

Cameron’s last address to the Giants | 01:56

The Blues got the perfect start, with Corey Durdin producing a sensational snap to kick the first goal of the game before star midfielder Sam Walsh conjured the second goal minutes later.

And when Walsh snapped his second goal, the relentless Blues had shot out to a 20-point lead, with the Giants failing to have a disposal in their forward half across the first seven minutes.

Key forward Tom De Koning then flew high inside 50 to take a towering mark before converting a tough set-shot opportunity to give the Blues a 26-point lead over the scoreless and shell-shocked Giants.

“This is not going to script in Leon Cameron’s final match,” Channel 7 commentator Alister Nicholson said.

“This is so, so disappointing for the Giants.”

Brian Taylor added: “Carlton are blistering at the moment … This is an absolute mess at the moment for the Giants.”

The Giants then started win more of the ball. Third-gamer Cooper Hamilton attempted to set the tone for his side with a courageous contested mark, which led to his side’s first major through Callan Ward.

The Giants’ joy was momentarily interrupted as Zac Fisher produced a brilliant individual effort, baulking a few Giants defenders then nailing a long-range left-foot goal.

But co-captain Toby Greene injected himself into the game late in the first term, kicking two classy goals to reduce the margin to two goals at the first change.

There was a significant sour moment late in the first term, with Giant-turned-Blue Zac Williams limped off the ground after innocuously falling to the ground. It appeared Williams had injured his Achilles, sparking heartbreaking scenes.

Williams was subbed out of the game at quarter-time and replaced by Cottrell.

The Giants got the fast start in the second term, with Jake Riccardi taking a strong mark and kicking the Giants’ fourth goal to reduce the margin to a kick.

Carlton got the quick reply, with the Blues showing great link-up play and Durdin rewarded with his second major. But Harry Himmelberg answered to cut Carlton’s lead again.

While the Blues were dominating on the inside, the Giants were getting on top in the uncontested possession count, allowing them to spend more time inside their front half.

“Things are just unravelling a bit now for Carlton,” Nicholson said.

It took a brilliant, special individual effort from Jack Silvagni for the Blues to break through the Giants’ wall, shrugging off his opponent in the pocket then nailing a checkside snap to give the Blues much needed breathing space.

But the Giants’ grinding comeback continued. Defender Adam Kennedy launched a long bomb to kick just his 14th AFL career goal, before Josh Kelly added another to draw scores level at 47 apiece at half-time.

It was the Blues that, again, started the next quarter with terrific intensity.

There was a lovely moment early, with Blues debutant Jesse Motlop kicking his first AFL goal from a set-shot — much to the delight of his family in the Giants Stadium grandstand.

Ex-Giant Matt Kennedy then converted his set-shot attempt after the Giants gave away a 50m penalty, giving the Blues some breathing room.

Himmelberg briefly halted the Blues’ momentum and snapped his second major, before Blues rookie Lochie O’Brien delivered an awesome long-range strike to give Carlton ample momentum.

But Harry Perryman responded with a classy crumbing goal to continue the see-saw nature of the match.

“This looks like being tight and tense all the way to the finish of the Cameron era,” Nicholson said in commentary.

Star Blues defender Jacob Weitering then gave away a free kick to Giant Finn Callaghan then was penalised for umpire dissent when he disagreed with the decision, leading to a certain goal for Callaghan.

The major saw Carlton’s lead cut to six points at three quarter-time.

Enter Charlie Curnow, who found the perfect time to escape from Sam Taylor’s grasp to flip the momentum in Carlton’s favour.

After being clamped by Taylor all night, Curnow took a towering contested mark in the goalsquare that set up his first goal. Minutes later, her marked in the pocked and snapped his second major to give Carlton much-needed breathing space.

And when Silvagni showed terrific composure to nail his second goal and give Carlton a 23-point lead, the Blues had the game sealed.

The ultimate cherry on top of the Blues’ cake was when inspirational defender Sam Docherty unloaded a monster kick from inside the centre square that sailed through for an almighty goal and seal the 30-point win.

THE 3-2-1 …

3. GIANTS’ ‘ABSOLUTE MESS’ OF A START MEANS NO FAIRYTALE ENDING FOR CAMERON

You would’ve expected the Giants to come out all guns blazing for coach Leon Cameron’s final match at the club, particularly after the coach’s emotional final pre-game address to his players.

Instead, they were flat-footed as Carlton blitzed Cameron’s Giants to ensure there was no fairytale ending for the outgoing coach.

Halfway through the first quarter, Carlton led a scoreless Giants outfit by 27 points after registering the first four goals of the game.

In fact the Blues, remarkably, had the first 16 inside 50s of the match before the Giants entered their own forward arc.

“This is not going to script in Leon Cameron’s final match,” Channel 7 commentator Alister Nicholson said.

Giants coach Leon Cameron leaves the field through a guard of honour after his last match. Picture: Mark KolbeSource: Getty Images

“This is so, so disappointing for the Giants.”

Fellow commentator Brain Taylor added: “Carlton are blistering at the moment … This is an absolute mess at the moment for the Giants.”

The Giants threatened several times to get back into the game.

Third-gamer Cooper Hamilton delivered two selfless acts – a courageous mark led to a Callan Ward goal before a brilliant rundown tackle on Lochie O’Brien late in the second term – while co-captain Toby Greene made his disposals count, booting two goals from his first three touches.

“They just didn‘t settle … and they just needed something to fire-start them,” five-time premiership Hawk Dermott Brereton told Fox Footy.

“He (Green) was able to put two on the board against the tide – and from that moment on the Giants say: ‘We feel like we‘ve been outplayed, but look at the score. It’s three goals. Now it’s two goals. Now we’ve got a real shot’. So they believe.”

Giants head coach Leon Cameron walks off the field with his son. Picture: Cameron SpencerSource: Getty Images

The Giants rallied late at the end of the first, second and third terms and were within one goal at the final change.

But two goals to Charlie Curnow at the start of the fourth term, followed by a classy Jack Silvagni finish, ultimately ended any hopes Cameron had of finishing his Giants stint with a win.

Players from both teams formed a guard of honour for Cameron post-game as he departed Giants Stadium for the final time.

Cameron saved a special cuddle for injured Blue – and former Giant – Zac Williams. Earlier in the night, Williams was subbed out of the game after appearing to rupture his Achilles in a heartbreaking incident.

Cameron then clapped towards Giants fans to show his appreciation for their support – and that act was reciprocated by the crowd.

2. BLUES THE ‘REAL DEAL’

Carlton is 7-2 and sits inside the top four on the ladder – after Round 9.

No typo.

Blues fans, you officially have the right to believe.

As hard as Carlton supporters may try, their team’s 30-point win over the Giants on Sunday has left them in an awesome position to challenge for finals this season.

The Blues have now kicked 100-plus points in the past three consecutive weeks. Add those performances to wins against Richmond, Western Bulldogs, Hawthorn and Port Adelaide and it’s hard to ignore the Blues’ chances any longer.

Jesse Motlop of the Blues. Picture: Cameron SpencerSource: Getty Images

As per foxfooty.com.au colleague Max Laughton, it’s just the second time the Blues have been in the top four for multiple weeks so deep into a season since 2001.

And Hawks champion Dermott Brereton is a believer.

“It’s 7-2 – and nine weeks is a great sample size to suggest what you are at nine weeks is what you are,” Brereton told Fox Footy post-game.

“They are the real deal … They are legitimate.”

1. RUNNING OF THE BIG BULLS

In his draft year, Tom Green (192cm) was the top contested possession ball-winner of his class who consistently drew comparisons to Patrick Cripps (195cm).

On Sunday, the master midfield bull – and, to some, the Brownlow Medal favourite – went head-to-head with the apprentice in a tantalising contest.

And in the early stages of the match, it was 21-year-old Green that set the tone, according to five-time premiership Hawk Dermott Brereton

“Young Tom Green pushed him (Cripps) sideways in his first two contests,” Brereton told Fox Footy.

“I reckon Crippa said: ‘Hang on, hang on, this is not happening’ – and he just got annoyed at that.”

Patrick Cripps marks in front of Tom Green. Picture: Cameron SpencerSource: Getty Images

Cripps, as you would expect, responded with authority.

After a quiet four-disposal opening term, Cripps had 12 touches in the second quarter, along with six contested possessions and two clearances.

“He’s been a brute … He‘s had plenty of the footy, he’s finding it in good areas now but he’s been wonderful around the stoppage, as to be expected,” Brereton said.

Cripps would finish with 26 disposals, seven score involvements and seven clearances, but Green was still important for the Giants on his way to 27 disposals and 14 contested possessions.

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