In a thriller, it was Brent Daniels slotting the game winner to give the Giants a win over the Lions.
Here’s our player by player assessment of proceedings.
Greater Western Sydney Giants
Phil Davis – 8
The captain again led from the front, repelling attack after attack in the pulsating last quarter, somewhat aided by the Lions haphazard delivery but without Davis the Giants would be drowning their sorrows rather than preparing for a trip to the MCG. A dozen intercept possessions – the fourth time in the past five weeks, as well as six intercept marks showed his value.
Jacob Hopper – 7
The midfield bull chimed in with 13 contested possessions from his total of 25, and an ice-cold set shot from distance to regain the lead after the Lions threatened to run away. His return to the side for the finals after injury has coincided with a harder edge for his club in probably their two best wins.
Toby Greene – 9
Is enigma the right term? Flawed genius? 30 disposals, 518m gained, 10 score involvements and two flamboyant goals are the stat line of only the best of the best in this game. Yet another indiscretion though sullied his night and he will watch on when his team needs him most. For differing reasons but I’m not sure Lachie Neale, Marcus Bontempelli or any of his teammates will look him in the eye this week.
Lachie Whitfield – 2
Apart from the round 6 match where he was injured before half time this was Whitfield’s worst match of the season, and by some margin. He was unable to break free from Nick Robertson’s disciplined tagging performance and for one of the first times lost composure, missing standard targets and even spraying an uncontested kick out on the full.
Tim Taranto – 4
17 disposals at just 41% were well down on the lofty standard of 27 and 60% he’s delivered in 2019. Slightly redeemed with 5 crunching tackles but will need to be at his best to combat the depth of the Collingwood midfield next week.
Sam Taylor – 4
Lowered his colours in an entertaining duel with Lions spearhead Eric Hipwood, but far from disgraced. Halved a number of contests allowing reinforcements time to arrive and perhaps minimising the damage that could’ve been caused by the impressive Hipwood.
Brent Daniels – 6
A relatively unobtrusive outing by the dynamic Daniels featuring just nine touches albeit at 100% and five tackles, however his night went from walk-on extra to headline cameo as he burst away from a flailing Witherden and finished neatly to drive a stake into the brave Lions hearts with only two minutes remaining.
Jeremy Cameron – 7
Never quite reached the heights he appeared destined to after threatening to take over the game early, particularly his ability to exploit Andrews by running him up and down the field, Still three valuable goals and sixteen disposals at +80% efficiency gave him the points against his AA rival.
Nick Haynes – 8
If Phil Davis was an immovable Everest in the Giants backhalf, then surely Haynes was K2. With nine of his 14 possessions obtained through intercepting Lions forward thrusts it highlighted his bravery, supreme judgement and trust in his ability.
Adam Tomlinson – 1
The Dolph Lundgren lookalike was more 15th round Ivan Drago in Rocky IV than He-Man in the Masters of the Universe in this one. Surprisingly omitted last week, he never took his chances and looked well off the pace only recording seven disposals at a dismal 42% accuracy.
Josh Kelly – 6
A wonderfully taken left foot snap goal deep in the last quarter elevated the Giants superstars’ game from simply vanilla. A tremendously gifted player who has been less impactful in 2019 firstly behind Conglio and then Whitfield and Hopper, will want to improve on the 61% efficiency he returned down from his season average of +70%.
Heath Shaw – 5
A subdued appearance by the charismatic Shaw with a team and season low disposal count of just six. And while his social media account still displays all the cheekiness he’s been renowned for there can be no doubt his football has matured and on Saturday performed a selfless task to minimise the impact of the Lions fleet of smalls who were all below par.
Matt de Boer – 9
Has led the renaissance of the tagger/run-with player this year and added another high-profile notch to his belt with the complete dismantling of Brownlow fancy Lachie Neale. Holding his vaunted opponent to under 20 disposals for the first time this year, and almost half of his season average. In addition, added 18 disposals of his own at 84%, to go with eight score involvements, six tackles and six clearances in a best afield performance.
Harry Himmelberg – 1
Simply could not get going in this one, his night was summed up by an incident on centre wing late in the last quarter where he finally found space and had the opportunity to take an uncontested mark and hold possession for his team but chose to double fist the ball out of bounds and give the ascendency back to the Lions.
Zac Williams – 8
A vitally important cog in the Giants machine Williams was at his best on Saturday night running and driving GWS forward. His 17 possessions understated due to his dual-role as main kick-out taker, but his 456m gained at 100% were integral in the final result. I’m certain Nathan Buckley was watching closely.
Jeremy Finlayson – 6
Lively early in the frantic opening stanza, capitalised on some ill-discipline to score two goals, a poster could have added to his tally. Supply dried up in the second half as Brisbane took control of territory and inside 50s.
Aidan Corr – 6
The unassuming Corr played his role as part of a solid back 6 and contrived to keep the Lions to a losing total. The type of role player the Giants have missed to complement their high-end talent and exactly the sort that could help them continue on their quest for 2019 glory.
Harry Perryman – 6
Career highs in tackles and Inside 50s highlighted Perryman’s game showing he was able to make a positive contribution even without much of the ball.
Daniel Lloyd – 4
Largely unseen Lloyd bobbed up in the first quarter bombing a set shot from inside the centre square to send the Giants 25 points to the good.
Shane Mumford – 2
In isolation big Mumford’s numbers make for adequate reading, a healthy 29 hit outs and a team-leading nine tackles, it’s just that his direct opponent was the most influential player on the ground and if not for debilitating cramps in the last quarter probably would have won his side the match. Based on his flagging mobility Mumford will need a miracle to hold Grundy this week.
Sam Reid – 5
The GWS journeyman has had as unique back story as anyone in the game’s long and storied history, but there can be no doubt that his teammates walk taller when he is on the park. A modest 11 disposals but five score involvements for the utility who continues to defy his critics.
Luke Hodge – 9
346 matches and done, adding a welcome exclamation point with votes in his final two games, both in the pressure cooker of finals where he thrived. Hodge long ago circumvented his lack of pace with guile and game awareness and he finishes his career adding to an enormous legacy which will no doubt be rewarded with immortality as an AFL legend in due course. 22 disposals at 85% in this one not quite enough to get one more match at his beloved MCG, it will be interesting if he can provide as much influence off the field as on it in years to come.
Allen Christensen – 5
Unable to recapture his best form since a late season hamstring injury, Christensen was almost the hero that Daniels became, calmly slotting the go-ahead goal from a tight angle with four minutes remaining. Would be disappointed with just one goal from 12 touches and three tackles.
Hugh McCluggage – 5
A budding star McCluggage punctuated his season with damaging clearances and an ability to burst clear and use his sublime skills. The finals cauldron did not afford as many opportunities for the youngster though and despite 23 disposals his accuracy was well down on a season average in the high 60s only tipping 52%. Has regularly hit the scoreboard with 23 majors this year, but a return of two behinds on Saturday when better composure could have delivered a win will drive him in the coming pre-season.
Jarrod Berry – 5
An almost game from Berry who collected 14 contested possessions from a total of 18, but again mistakes in front of goal proved costly, a simple miss from a set shot and another out on the full added to six clangers. This loss will burn.
Lachie Neale – 4
The blow of straight sets might be softened slightly next week if Neale claims the Brownlow medal, but his stunning debut season in Queensland was derailed by the force of nature that is Matt de Boer. Neale never gave up, but he was just beaten, thrashed in fact for the first time this year and without Mitch Robinson to provide some muscle just couldn’t get going.
Daniel Rich – 8
It’s been a slow burn for the talented Rich to start consistently delivering what we all thought was a natural progression after his burst onto the scene a decade ago, but it’s really taken the last two years and the influence of Hodge/Fagan to unlock his best. 25 disposals at 84% and a massive 747m gained, Rich’s leadership and calmness belied his inexperienced teammates.
Lincoln McCarthy – 3
This wasn’t the game McCarthy wanted or deserved, you could see him trying desperately to impose himself on the contest, but there would be no last-minute heroics like against his former team the Cats, instead he was always a second too late.
Stefan Martin – 9
If not for severe cramping late in the game Martin was probably the matchwinner, his athleticism and strength rendering the mighty Mumford as a virtual onlooker as he collected 11 clearances at will and almost single handedly made up for the absence of Robinson and reduced output from Neale.
Dayne Zorko – 7
The Lions skipper is a tremendous player, his ability to hit packs at pace and dodge and spin to get clear and drive the ball long are from the very top shelf, but again a lack of composure sits him slightly below the likes of Pendlebury, Hodge, Martin as the best mids of the past decade or so. Repeatedly he drove the ball long after winning contests when perhaps lowering the eyes or taking a few extra steps and balancing might brought a better outcome.
Cam Rayner – 2
After last weeks coming of age match keen viewers were hoping to see more of the same, but Rayner badly fluffed his lines. Two simple dropped marks well within scoring range were slightly offset by a good finish in the 3rd term, but overall he was a non-factor in this game.
Jarryd Lyons – 8
Is there a recruit of the year award? While his highly touted teammate in number 9 would have reasonable claims, don’t discount the impact Lyons has made in his short move north in the off season. Another 27 touches at almost 80% and an excellent goal can have him hold his head very high.
Nick Robertson – 7
In just his fifth match of the season, Robertson was a revelation in a stopping role, rendering GWS prime mover Whitfield completely ineffective. Can hopefully make the position his in 2020.
Charlie Cameron – 6
A magnificent season for Cameron looked to be heading for disaster as he was well held last week and then badly injured early in this one. Returning from what looks to be a serious elbow injury, Cameron bravely marked under extreme duress on the boundary and slammed through the goal igniting the crowd and his teammates in a show of bravery as impressive as any in recent memory. A long-range goal to bring the Lions within five points brought the house down.
Marcus Adams – 4
Adams did what he does well, and that is mark the ball, however the things he doesn’t do well, decision making, disposing of the ball and zone defending came to the fore on Saturday as well.
Daniel McStay – 6
Six years and 103 games into his AFL career I want more from McStay, who does a lot of things very well – just not often enough. And that was the story again here, three towering contested marks and a brilliant goal from a Hodge assist should have been the impetus to push him into match-breaker status but his performance teased of wanting more, again.
Darcy Gardiner – 4
A shaky performance from one of the Lions most reliable defenders. Never recovered from giving away a couple of over-exuberant early free kicks which helped the Giants build an early lead.
Alex Witherden – 5
Another reliable game from the consistent Lion, which will unfortunately be remembered for his inability to track opponent Brent Daniels as he burst away for what was the match winning goal.
Eric Hipwood – 6
Bounced back from a disappointing game last week to be a focal point up forward, delivering three excellent goals and looking likely to make something happen when the ball was in his vicinity, 35 goals for the year should become 50 next year with a similar improvement.
Harris Andrews – 5
The Lion captain in waiting had his hands full with Coleman Medallist Jeremy Cameron, and while mostly keeping him in check with three goals, was unable to impact as he’d have liked, his tally of only three spoils down on his season average of nine.
Zac Bailey – 3
Unable to utilise his greatest asset, his pace, Bailey was fumbly throughout and was only able to contribute three kicks and 111m gain for his side.
Noah Answerth – 5
A debut season that saw Answerth establish his position across 19 games, this was not his best, but he stuck to his task diligently as always. Under siege early and only seven disposals however was able to provide extra numbers to numerous contests to give his side the advantage in clearing the ball from defensive 50.
Oscar McInerney – 5
Another would be hero with a late 4th quarter snap hitting the post, McInerney was solid throughout in his role of relief ruck and tall forward foil. 20 hit outs and four clearances ensured that the Lions remained competitive when Martin was out of the centre.
So, where’d we hit, and where’d we miss? Let us know