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10:10pm  Feb 17, 2018

Opposition watch: GWS

Jacqueline Guldon, Carlton Media  June 10, 2017 11:08 AM

A formidable challenge awaits Carlton on Sunday, with the Blues set to return from the bye to face the Greater Western Sydney Giants at Etihad Stadium.

The Giants climbed to the top of the table for the first time in the Club’s history last week after reaching the halfway mark of the season on nine wins and two losses. With a fifth consecutive win in the sights of Leon Cameron’s charges, they’ll make the trip south this weekend eager to extend their four-two record over Carlton. 

Though GWS backline coach Mark McVeigh said the ladder leaders would not underestimate the Blues who sit at the opposite end with three wins and seven losses on their scorecard.

“They’re (Blues) sitting 17th on the ladder but I think the way they’ve played this year probably doesn’t justify that,” McVeigh told GWS.com.au on Thursday.

“They’ve really made some significant improvements (over the last month) … we need to make sure we prepare well.” 

GWS will enter the Round 12 match on the back of a 16-point win over Essendon last week. In that hit-out, midfielder Dylan Shiel ran riot against the Bombers to finish the match with 31 disposals, five tackles and a goal. 

Shiel was the highest possession getter when Carlton and GWS last met in Round 14, 2016 – a match which was one to forget for Brendon Bolton’s men who went down at Spotless Stadium by 62 points.

With the 24-year-old ranked first in the competition for centre clearances, he looms as one of the Blues’ toughest tasks with the sides preparing to meet for the seventh time on Sunday.  

Prior to the beginning of Round 12, tall stock Jeremy Cameron was the league’s equal leading goalkicker with 34 majors, averaging three per game. With a thriving Toby Greene also consistently hitting the scoreboard, Carlton will require another relentless effort from its backs if it’s to keep the Giants' scoreline under wraps. 

In the lead-up to the match, Blues defender Sam Docherty hoped a refreshed Blues outfit could make a strong return to the turf and manage a win over the Giants.

“The Giants are a really good side and they’ve got a really strong midfield, but I think anyone is beatable in today’s game,” Docherty told RSN on Thursday.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to knock them off on Sunday.” 

While the Blues are yet to bag the four points at Etihad Stadium this season, they’ll hope to turn their form around with a win for resilient ruckman Matthew Kreuzer, who will take the field for his 150th match alongside former Giant Lachie Plowman, who will run out for his 50th AFL game.

For the Round 12 clash, the Blues have called on an in-form Liam Jones to bolster their line-up following his impressive form in the VFL. Jed Lamb will also join Jones for his first senior game in 2017, with Dale Thomas also recalled after he missed one week with concussion.

The trio replace youngsters Samo Petrevski-Seton (managed), Harrison Macreadie (omitted) and Nick Graham (omitted). Meanwhile, the Giants have made just one change to their final 22, with veteran forward Steve Johnson set to make his return after missing his side’s former two clashes with a knee injury.

Carlton and GWS will go to battle from 3:20pm on Sunday at Etihad Stadium. Click here to purchase your tickets.