The Greater Western Sydney Giants have won a thrilling 3 point victory over the Brisbane Lions in the sudden death 2nd Semi Final played at the Gabba on Saturday night. In a dramatic, classic finals pressure game, the Giants were able to snatch victory via a calculated snap from Brent Daniels who put his team in front with minutes remaining.
The finals seconds were pure drama, as the Lions relentlessly kept attacking only to be stopped by a superb, fanatical Giants defense lead by skipper Phil Davis and Nick Haynes. The win sends Greater Western Sydney into their third preliminary final in 4 years where they will face the heavily fancied Collingwood next Saturday afternoon at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The game had everything. Aggression, passion and incredible skills. The Giants got off to an excellent start posting 4 goals to the Lions zero in the first twelve minutes of the game. The Giants first goal came via Toby Greene and that score was doubled after Jeremy Finlayson was jumper punched by a Lions defender and duly scored an immediate second goal.
Superstar Lions forward Charlie Cameron copped some friendly fire and appeared to have suffered a nasty shoulder injury, but he returned and with that, the Lions lifted their game as they slammed on 5 consecutive goals to bring themselves and the manic home team crowd right back into the game.
The second quarter was just as absorbing. The Brisbane Lions threw everything at the Giants, yet they stood firm and took a slender 2 goal lead into the sheds at half time after booting 5 goals to Brisbane’s two.Two GWS goals from this quarter were worthy of mention. Zac Williams was able to boot a long goal at the top of the 50 metre arc as did Jeremy Finlayson who’s long attempt managed to avoid all hands and make it’s way though the goals. Jacob Hopper and Jeremy Cameron also kicked clutch set shot goals which helped the Giants winning cause immensely.
Zac Williams was simply outstanding. Playing in his AFL 100th game, he characteristically drove his team deep into attack with his signature surging, fast paced runs. He snagged a sneaky, but crucial long goal in the second term, but it was his presence around the manic Lions half forward zones that really counted. Zac tackled, he chased, he pressured, he did all of the “one pecenters” required. He laid 6 tackles, had 17 disposals and that important goal.
For Brisbane’s part, despite the early knock Charlie Cameron copped he was simply exhilarating to watch. Cameron’s electrifying pace and finesse was something to behold. He looked unstoppable at times, but thankfully for the Giants and to Adam Kennedy’s close, tagging role he was only able to boot 2 goals. Eric Hipwood was another dangerous forward for the Lions. He took 7 marks and booted 3.2 and it could have been 5 or more, but he did provide a handful for Phil Davis and co. Daniel Rich was also at his brilliant best, the veteran’s toughness in and around the contest got his team up and about. Rich had 25 disposals, made 4 tackles and his disposal efficiency was at 84% which illustrates just how effective he was for the Lions.
The ruck duel was intriguing with Brisbane talls in Stefan Martin and Oscar McInerney sharing a combined hit out total of 44 to the Giants 26. And whilst the hit-out count had the Lions clearly ahead, Shane Mumford played an enormous, controlled, understated game that added just another angle to this pulsating narrative. Importantly, he made 9 tackles. That stat is pure gold in a fierce contest and that contribution cannot be underestimated in the overall result of the game. Mumford also managed his game perfectly at the centre and clearance bounces and at the boundary throw ins. Mumford looked calm and composed when all hell was breaking lose and the battle between himself and Stefan Martin was one for the purists.
2019 Coleman medalist Jeremy Cameron played a super game as well. He booted 3 goals and importantly moved up and around the ground taking key marks (6 marks for the game) deep from his usual forward zone and added another target for his fellow Giant defenders to kick to.
The final term was one of the best, thrilling quarters of football seen in the 2019 AFL season. The Brisbane Lions threw everything at the Giants with Eric Hipwood goaling. Allen Christensen put the Lions in front and it looked like the Gianst might be spent for 2019. Thankfully, Nick Haynes and Phil Davis repelled the majority of the Lions thrust into the forward areas. They continually marked and steadied their side. For the record, the folks in lime have to be mentioned. Astonishingly, Brisbane were awarded 10 free kicks to the Giants 1 in the final quarter and it illustrated in our opinion, just how poorly this game was adjudicated from a group of experienced umpires who should have performed better. They were simply terrible.
The final absorbing act, saw Brett Daniels, a kid who’s only played 31 games crumb a ball from a contest. He found space in the forward pocket, he steadied himself and drove the ball right through the middle of the goals to grab the lead. It was absolute chaos in the final seconds as the Giants desperately hung on to the wafer thin margin. Thankfully the siren rang out and the Giants had achieved an incredible, courageous victory that will take them to a game that leads to a grand final if they can defeat Collingwood at the MCG next Saturday.
The scenes inside the Giants sheds could only be described as intensely joyous and exhilarating. Players, coaches, club officials, trainers and family members all embraced each other as the Giants boys stood in their circle and sung themselves hoarse with the club’s unique song.
Coach Leon Cameron was thrilled with his team’s resolve, singling out Brent Daniel’s match winning goal as an example “In the end it was probably man on man everywhere. It was just who could get in front at the right time. When Brent obviously kicked the winning goal,he showed great composure for a second year player to kick that goal in an enormous amount of pressure in such a huge game. But for the last two and a half minutes, I thought our boys really kicked into gear and played some really good defense” Lions coach Chris Fagan was philosophical despite the close loss “I’m disappointed for the boys I mean two weeks in a row, we’ve done enough to win in both the finals we’ve played in. The learning thing is for us is we just have to get all of the little things right”.
So the Greater Western Sydney Giants move on to their third preliminary final in four years. This time it will be against Collingwood at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday afternoon. The match-up provides an opportunity for the Giants to make their debut Grand Final appearance but it also gives them an opportunity to make amends for last year’s disappointing finals loss to the Pies. It should be an absorbing, pulsating contest.
BRISBANE 5.2 7.4 9.9 11.14 (80)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 4.2 9.4 10.10 12.11 (83)
Brisbane: Hipwood 3, Cameron 2, Berry, Zorko, Lyons, Rayner, McStay, Christensen
Greater Western Sydney: Cameron 3, Greene 2, Finlayson 2, Lloyd, Hopper, Williams, Kelly, Daniels
Brisbane: Rich, Hipwood, Lyons, McCluggage, Robertson, Martin, Zorko, Cameron, Hodge
Greater Western Sydney: Williams, Cameron, Davis, Haynes, Mumford, Greene, Daniels
Brisbane: Cameron: elbow
Greater Western Sydney: –
Umpires: Matt Stevic, Ray “Razor” Chamberlain, Shaun Ryan
Official crowd: 30,034 at the Gabba Oval, Woolloongabba, Brisbane, Queensland Australia