Reigning champion Hawthorn traveled north to take on the up-and-coming Greater Western Sydney Giants at Spotless Stadium in Round 6, with all but the staunchest of Giants' fans expecting a Hawthorn victory. Despite losing team leaders Luke Hodge and Jordan Lewis to suspension, the highly skilled Hawks were expected to comfortably account for a Giants team that had been smashed by the West Coast Eagles just a week earlier.
Two early goals to Isaac Smith had the match following the script. The Hawks looked comfortable in front of a sparse crowd of around 12,000, in spite of players wearing a new jersey that looked more suited to a “Power Ranger” than an AFL footballer. Consecutive goals in quick time to Devon Smith gave the locals something to cheer about, but overall the Giants failed to match the Hawks who held a comfortable 15 point lead at the first break.
Hawthorn extended their lead to 27 points early in the second quarter with goals to Sam Mitchell and Jack Gunston. The Giants worked their way back into the game stringing five goals together on the back of some tireless work from the GWS midfield. Callan Ward, Stephen Coniglio and Ryan Griffin had a field day during a twenty minute burst that saw some sensational ball use from the Giants, allowing them to head into half time with a four point lead.
The Hawks came out firing in the third quarter with the first three goals through Paul Puopolo, Luke Breust and Gunston but once again the momentum shifted towards the Giants on the back of some monster forward work from Jeremy Cameron who kicked three of his game high seven goals in a frantic third term. Tom Scully was finally starting to show some of the form that made him a number one draft pick, combining with the in form Liam Shiels to keep the Giants within striking distance and just ten points adrift of the reigning premiers (champions) at the final change.
As had been the pattern all game, the Hawks controlled the play early in the final term. Despite missing a couple of chances, they went further ahead when Billy Hartung goaled at the five minute mark. From then on the Giants ramped up the intensity, seemingly running out the game in better shape than the visiting Hawks. The small but vocal crowd urged the Giants on and they responded with goals to James Stewart through a free kick and yet another from Cameron, having a sensational game up forward. When Ryan Griffen launched a beauty from the pocket at the 14 minute mark of the quarter, the upset looked to be on. The Giants continued to attack and despite missing some chances, finally drove the nail into the Hawthorn coffin with Cameron bagging his seventh goal. Devon Smith added another at the 22 minute mark to put the result beyond doubt, and incredibly the upstart Giants had knocked off their highly lauded opposition in one of a handful of upsets for the round.
The ten point victory in front of the second largest home crowd in their short history would seem to be a sign of things to come for Greater Western Sydney. On the back of massive draft concessions from the AFL, there is no deeper list of young talent in any team in the AFL. As for Hawthorn, they could point to the previous round's victory against the Kangaroos as a costly one, losing Hodge and Lewis through suspension thus weakening not only their playing stocks but their onfield leadership.
In what is becoming a fantastic AFL season where tipping winners is tougher than ever, only Fremantle at 6-0 has separated from the pack. Next week the Giants will look to consolidate their place in the Top Eight with a game against a struggling Carlton, while Hawthorn should return to the winners' list with a victory against the Demons at the MCG.
Scoreboard: Greater Western Sydney 2.2 7.4 11.5 16.12 (108) Hawthorn 4.5 6.6 12.9 14.14 (98) Best Players: Greater Western Sydney: Ward, Cameron, Shaw, Scully, Treloar, Shiel Hawthorn: Burgoyne, Mitchell, Birchall, I. Smith, Suckling, Hill
Article last changed on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - 2:18 PM EDT