They’ve won bigger games, but in their first decade, rarely have the Giants won against such towering odds.
Opposing red-hot Geelong, packing a no-name squad forced by injuries aplenty on a never-ending road trip and then, unexpectedly, minus their midfield supremo minutes before the bounce … it didn’t look good.
But someone forgot to tell Leon Cameron’s charges who threw a huge spanner in finals predictors with a plucky 19-point win over the Cats that the coach described as “one of the bravest” with which he’d been involved.
The Giants had barely touched the ball in the first five minutes and their season looked particularly wobbly, missing more than 930 games of experience from last week’s team after Josh Kelly became their eighth forced absence.
But twice using streaks of five unanswered goals, GWS was effective in attack while also blunting the Cats’ vaunted forward line in moving back into the top eight against all odds.
Tom Hawkins was held to just one goal by defensive revelation Sam Taylor, who was arguably the best afield with eight intercept marks.
Remarkably, the combination of Esava Ratugolea, Gary Rohan and Luke Dahlhaus combined for only 20 disposals in the Cats’ forward 50.
Yet, with a suddenly dominant midfield in the final term, Geelong somehow pulled within two goals late in the final term before Harry Himmelberg made amends for some howlers to boot the sealer for the Giants.
Geelong had been touted as a possible minor premiership contender, but with a couple of key injuries throw in, the Cats suddenly have larger concerns.
Cats defender Jake Kolodjashnij kicked his first AFL goal in his 127th senior appearance. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
Toby or not to be?
Sparks were a fair chance to fly when Patrick Dangerfield bore down hard on Toby Greene as the star Giant picked up the ball at pace on centre wing midway through the first quarter.
But those sparks will almost certainly turn into a full-blown blaze this week after Greene raised his elbow in an extremely clumsy attempt to fend Dangerfield off, flushing the Cats champ under the chin and forcing him from the field.
Dangerfield was subbed out by quarter-time and taken to hospital for an assessment of a suspected throat injury that could have huge ramifications for both Giants and Cats in the run-up to the finals.
Warming to the task
The Cats have been doing their share of celebrating recently, but there was some extra spice on their first of the night.
In his 127th game, stay-at-home Geelong defender Jake Kolodjashnij drew an instant crowd when he drifted forward in the first minute and slammed home his first career goal to set his team away and even get coach Chris Scott up and about in the box.
We don’t want to say it was totally unexpected, but only a few betting agencies even listed him as a first goal-scorer alternative. Kolodjashnij is now sixth on the career list of most game played before a maiden major, but still a light year behind the leader in that category, legendary Sydney full-back and cult figure Rod “Tilt” Carter, who waited 215 for his first.
Toby Greene could come under scrutiny from the match review officer for elbowing Patrick Dangerfield in the Giants’ win. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
Cool in the clinches
Geelong had won the contested possession count in each of its past 15 games, 13 of which have been victories.
But tonight, against a makeshift GSW midfield, the Cats went cold at coalface, trounced by 18 in a stat that is a great barometer of their fortunes.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY
3: Sam Taylor (GWS)
2: Tim Taranto (GWS)
1: Toby Greene (GWS)
Geelong: Henry (2), Ratugolea (2), Hawkins, Tuohy, Blicavs, Kolodjashnij.
GWS: Greene (4), Brown (2), Taranto (2), Himmelberg (2), Sproule, Buntine, Bruhn.
Geelong: Bews, Selwood, C.Guthrie, Stewart.
GWS: Taylor, Taranto, Greene, Cummings, Brown, Whitfield, Ward.
Geelong: Dangerfield (throat), Tuohy (hamstring), Rohan (leg).
GWS: Daniels (hamstring).
CROWD: 0 at GMHBA Stadium, Geelong
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