The Greater Western Sydney Giants have advanced to a preliminary final against Collingwood after holding on for a three-point victory over a gallant Brisbane Lions on Saturday night. In one of the games of the season, there was something for everyone. There were 10 lead changes throughout the match, plenty of aggression from both teams and some overzealous umpiring that saw a total of 54 free kicks paid for the match.
The Giants burst out of the blocks kicking the first four goals of the game while displaying the same physical style of football that helped them to a big win over the Western Bulldogs just a week earlier.
The fast start by the Giants coupled with an apparent injury to Lions goal sneak Charlie Cameron had the home fans holding their collective breath, but Cameron was strapped up and back out on the ground as the Lions rallied for five unanswered goals to take a six point lead into quarter time.
The second quarter had the Giants taking control through brilliant work by Toby Greene and Zac Williams, while Greene was also once again involved in controversy. Late in the second quarter, Lions star midfielder Lachie Neale emerged from a pack holding his face after an encounter with Greene. This could have significant implications for the Giants match against Collingwood next week as Greene escaped a similar incident just a week ago with just a monetary fine. [Ed. note: Greene was cited by the Match Review Panel and will front the tribunal.]
The third quarter commenced with Greater Western Sydney holding a two goal lead, which should have been extended going into the final change had they been more accurate than the 1.6 they added to the scoreboard. Brisbane wasn’t without its own struggles in front of goal, adding 2.5 to head into the last quarter with just a seven point deficit, setting up a sensational finish to a wonderful game of football.
The final term saw Brisbane launch an all-out attack, entering their 50 meter arc on a whopping 19 occasions to just seven for the Giants, however the Giants defense stood firm behind the brilliance of Nick Haynes and Phil Davis, continually stifling the Lions with intercept marks and spoils. Brisbane constantly bombed the ball into the forward line with limited success. Late in the final quarter, with the Giants holding a narrow lead, a controversial free kick for a hold was paid to the Lion's Allen Christensen. From 35 meters out [39 yards] on a 45 degree angle, the 133 game veteran coolly slotted the goal to put the Lions in front and send the 30,000+ crowd into a frenzy.
With time winding down there was another twist in the tail of this epic game as Giants diminutive forward Brent Daniels picked up a loose ball and sprinted towards goal with Lions defender Alex Witherden in hot pursuit. Daniels held sway in the sprint and as he closed to within 25 meters of goal on a tight angle, smoothly executed a running check-side punt that sailed right through the middle of the goals to put the Giants in front with a few minutes remaining.
Greater Western Sydney played out the last few minutes to perfection, hugging the boundary and causing multiple stoppages to deny any chance of a last gasp win for the devastated Lions. Despite the controversy around Toby Greene, he was magnificent with 30 disposals and two goals for the victors. Coleman medalist [leading goal kicker in 2019] Jeremy Cameron booted three goals while taking six marks and notching 16 possessions, while Phil Davis, Zach Williams and Nick Haynes were all brilliant in defense. For the defeated Lions, Dayne Zorko and Jarryd Lyons were brilliant, Eric Hipwood was best in attack while Stefan Martin played arguably his best game for the season in a dominant performance that included 24 hit outs and 11 clearances.
The Giants now progress to their third Preliminary-final in four years, coming up against Collingwood on Saturday afternoon for a chance to compete in their first ever Grand Final. The Lions went out in “straight sets” but lost no admirers in the process, sowing the seeds for a promising future driven by plenty of young talent. Luke Hodge, the veteran who crossed from Hawthorn to help out coach Chris Fagan, announced his retirement after the game, bringing to an end a magnificent career that spanned 346 games.
Scoreboard: Brisbane: 5.2 7.4 9.9 11.14 (80) GWS Giants: 4.2 9.4 10.10 12.11 (83) Best Players: Brisbane: Rich, Hipwood, McCluggage, Martin, Berry, Zorko, Hodge, Robertson GWS: Greene, Hopper, Williams, Cameron, Davis, Haynes, Kelly
Article last changed on Monday, September 16, 2019 - 3:13 PM EDT