THE increasingly heated rivalry between GWS and the Western Bulldogs has delivered another fiery contest, with the combative Giants dumping the Dogs out of the AFL finals with a 58-point win at Giants Stadium.
GWS, who suffered a 61-point drubbing by the Dogs at the same venue in round 22, turned the tables in emphatic fashion to book a semi-final berth with a 16.17 (113) to 8.7 (55) win on Saturday afternoon in front of 19,218 fans.
A disappointing day for the Dogs was made worse when rising star Aaron Naughton suffered what appeared to be a serious knee injury late in the third term.
The big forward’s left knee buckled under him after he landed awkwardly in a marking contest, ending his day and sparking fears he might have suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
With the Dogs left to lick their wounds, the Giants will take on the loser of the qualifying final between Brisbane and Richmond at the Gabba in a knockout semi-final.
The Bulldogs stormed into the finals, winning seven of nine games, but GWS were primed for a fight.
Marcus Bontempelli was often the target of a physical approach by the home side, master tagger Matt de Boer receiving plenty of help from his teammates as the Bulldogs’ superstar was held to 13 possessions.
The Giants led by 10 points at halftime but broke the tense encounter open with a six-goals-to-two third quarter and finished right over the top of Luke Beveridge’s men with 39 more inside-50 entries for the match.
There was plenty of class to go with the GWS grunt, with Lachie Whitfield (29 touches), Toby Greene (20 and three goals) and Jacob Hopper (30) leading the way.
Matt Suckling bounced through a long goal in the opening 30 seconds but the combative Giants quickly managed to get on top, Greene booting two goals as they edged to an 11-point lead at the first break.
The Bulldogs’ back six held up bravely in the face of repeated attacks early in the second quarter, but Harry Himmelberg made it a 24-point game with his first goal.
It was starting to look like it wouldn’t be the Dogs’ day when Toby McLean pounced on a Zac Williams howler from a kick-in to spark a three-goal burst that slashed the margin to three points.
The match was delicately poised with GWS up by 10 points entering the second half.
Jake Kelly was quiet in the first half but he was a key factor as the Giants made their move, booting the last four goals of the quarter to lead by 35 points at three-quarter time.
It was a tall order for the Dogs to launch another comeback from there and it proved too big a task, their resistance crumbling as the Giants celebrated a resounding victory.
© AAP 2019
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 3.5 6.9 12.11 16.17 (113)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.0 5.5 7.6 8.7 (55)
Goals: Greater Western Sydney: J Finlayson 3 J Kelly 3 T Greene 3 D Lloyd 2 H Himmelberg 2 J Cameron 2 L Whitfield. Western Bulldogs: A Naughton 2 E Richards J Schache M Suckling S Lloyd T English T McLean.
Umpires: Shaun Ryan, Nicholas Foot, Nathan Williamson.
Official Crowd: 19,218 at Giants Stadium.