Giants wary of AFL over-achievers Carlton

Greater Western Sydney don’t expect to repeat last season’s record 81-point drubbing of Carlton in their bid to crack this season’s AFL top four.

The sorry Blues looked to be staring at another painful few years last August, when the Giants gave them an almighty walloping at Spotless Stadium.

Months prior in May, Leon Cameron’s fledgling side thrashed them by 78 points at Etihad Stadium to plunge the former powerhouse deeper into the abyss just 10 days before coach Mick Malthouse was sacked.

The misery was supposed to bleed into this season – Carlton were widely tipped to compete with Essendon for the wooden spoon.

But they return to Olympic Park on Saturday as the competition’s over-achievers under new coach Brendon Bolton, in 11th place and high on confidence.

It’s got young Giants defender Zac Williams on high alert.

“Brendon Bolton has brought in a good style of football,” Williams told AAP.

“They’re defending a lot better – their scores against are a lot lower – and they’re actually moving the ball pretty well too.

“You can’t really take Carlton lightly like you could last year.

“We’ve got to be switched on and ready right from the start.”

That will be crucial for the fifth-placed Giants, who struggled early last weekend and were subsequently given a scare by the lowly Bombers.

There can be no repeat if they are to set themselves up for the business end of the season, ahead of next week’s bye.

In the home side’s favour is their untouchable record at Spotless Stadium, where a venue-record crowd of 21,541 watched the Giants thump local rivals Sydney a fortnight ago.

They’ll also get a major boost from the return of big guns Shane Mumford (ankle injury) and Steve Johnson (foot), along with co-captain Phil Davis (toe).

Not to mention Williams’ blistering form.

The 21-year-old has taken his game to a new level this season, quickly becoming one of the AFL’s most exciting half-backs.

He credited his first full injury-free pre-season, and some valuable guidance from veteran Heath Shaw.

“I can actually run out games now and play four quarters of footy,” Williams said.

“Nathan Wilson and myself have also benefited from Heath Shaw a lot this year.

“I’m playing a similar role as Heath and he’s very experienced.

“He’s given us a big confidence boost to take on the game.”

Carlton veteran Bryce Gibbs will play his 200th match, while the contest will receive added spice from a quartet of returning Blues and former Giants in Andrew Phillips, Lachie Plowman, Liam Sumner and Jed Lamb.

GWS forward Devon Smith is returning to football via the NEAFL after a two-month lay-off recovering from knee surgery.

Defender Adam Kennedy (shoulder) has been named as an AFL emergency but will also likely line up for the WSU Giants against Sydney University.

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