Greater Western Sydney have served the Western Bulldogs some cold preliminary final revenge, writing the latest thrilling chapter of the two club’s burgeoning AFL rivalry with a two-point win.
With the temperature plummeting to five degrees, the heat was on at UNSW Canberra Oval.
The Giants came from behind to win 11.9 (75) to 9.19 (73) in front of a crowd of 14,048 who were treated to another classic encounter.
The GWS forward line fired, with Jeremy Cameron kicking four goals while Jonathon Patton and Toby Greene booted three apiece – including crucial last-quarter majors.
Patton’s monster set shot from the boundary put the Giants back in front 14 minutes in to the last quarter, while Greene threaded a goal four minutes later to extend the lead to 10.
Jake Stringer’s third goal gave the Bulldogs hope, cutting the deficit to three, but Toby McLean narrowly missed a shot at goal in the dying moments and the Giants held on for a memorable victory.
“We put up on the board to beat the Bulldogs you need to play for 120 minutes,” Giants coach Leon Cameron said.
“In the end it came down to the last 10 seconds.”
The Bulldogs were left to rue their missed opportunities after taking a nine-point lead to half-time despite dominating the second quarter.
While two goals each to Stringer and Marcus Bontempelli shifted the momentum of the game after quarter time, a slew of missed shots gave the Giants a chance to regroup at the main break.
“It was just pleasing to get off the canvas at half-time because they should have been up by four or five goals,” Cameron said.
From there an arm-wrestle ensued in a game that was hard, fast and skilful.
Luke Dahlhaus racked up 27 touches for the Dogs, while Jason Johannisen had 21 possessions and seven rebounds off defensive 50.
Easton Wood was superb in defence but gave away a crucial 50-metre penalty early in the last quarter to give Patton an easy shot that he converted for his second goal.
Dylan Shiel and Callan Ward were influential around the contest for the Giants, while Zac Williams was impressive and Heath Shaw accumulated kicks off half-back.
The Giants are likely to be without Greene next week after he was reported for striking Caleb Daniel in a marking contest during the third quarter.
Dogs midfielder Tom Liberatore’s night ended in the last quarter when he was concussed in a heavy tackle by Shane Mumford, who was outstanding with 52 hit-outs against the Bulldogs makeshift ruck duo of Tom Boyd and Josh Dunkley.
Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said his side was beginning to get closer to the form which won them last year’s premiership.
“There was a few things to like but overall it’s just frustrating,” Beveridge said.
“Even though our intensity was good, we just gave it back to them in close and they went forward.
“But I don’t think our intensity really dropped off at all so that’s a step in the right direction.”