Greater Western Sydney have breached the AFL’s top four with a 62-point win over Carlton.
The Giants were back to their usual slick standard on Saturday, first outlasting and then dominating a disciplined Blues 18.19 (127) to 9.11 (65) to maintain their perfect 2016 record at Spotless Stadium.
The victory in front of 10,355 fans moves coach Leon Cameron’s side into third spot leading into next weekend’s bye to set up the finals debutants-in-waiting well for the season’s home stretch.
Fourth-placed Hawthorn are on an equal 40 points and play on Sunday.
The evening wasn’t so positive for luckless Giants co-captain Phil Davis, who injured his calf.
GWS started in starkly different fashion from last week’s stagnant first half against Essendon, scoring the first two goals and increasing their lead slightly in each quarter before running away via a seven-goal blitz in the final term.
Well-rested veteran Steve Johnson booted four goals on return and used his influence to organise the hosts’ forward line, forcing Blues coach Brendon Bolton to move extra cover onto the former Geelong star.
Dylan Shiel turned in a game-high 34 disposals and slotted two majors, while co-captain Callan Ward (33 disposals) and Stephen Coniglio (31 disposals, one goal) were also outstanding.
Youngster Zac Williams (91.7 per cent disposal efficiency) showed why he’s one of the competition’s most dynamic half-backs, letting rip a brilliant first-quarter kick to put Jonathon Patton through before scoring an excellent goal of his own.
However, Carlton worked hard on their opponents and at times exposed their defensive run, receiving little threat from the Giants’ forwards until the final term, when Jeremy Cameron booted two of his three majors.
Sam Docherty racked up a game-high 23 kicks for the Blues, while veteran Bryce Gibbs notched 29 disposals in his 200th game.