The GWS Giants have prevailed in their elimination final match up against the Western Bulldogs, defeating their disappointing Victorian rivals by 58 points.
With the Doggies producing one of their most lacklustre performances in months, a strong Giants outfit managed to dominate much of the game and win through to next week’s semi-finals.
The Giants doubled their opponents’ inside fifty counts, out-tackled and out-possessed their overawed rivals, in a sharp turn around from both 2016’s preliminary final and their Round 22 clash, both won by the Bulldogs.
A first-quarter dominated by the Giants set the tone for the game, with only frustrating inaccuracy preventing them from opening up a wider lead.
The Dogs, as many expected, fought their way back into a clash – aided by the Giants’ inaccuracy – and closed the gap to under a goal twice within the second and third stanzas, but were unable to snatch the lead at any point and watched as a slick Giants team opened up their margins again.
The Bulldogs’ best phase of play was a three-goal purple patch in the latter stages of the second term in which they showcased the barnstorming play that won them a position in finals – but, they were unable to keep up the momentum.
A one-score final quarter buried the Dogs for the final time, with the Giants piling on three final goals – and a heap of inaccurate misses – to blow out the margin.
Lachie Whitfield was far and away the Giants best, with 29 touches and a stunning opening term major, while Jacob Hopper and Tim Taranto also accumulated plenty of the footy.
Heath Shaw’s 25 touches made him a rock in the backline, while I thoroughly enjoyed Toby Greene’s bombastic clash. Greene, Josh Kelly and Jeremy Finlayson all booted three majors, while Coleman Medallist Jeremy Cameron scored an inaccurate 2.3.
Jack Macrae was the Bulldogs best in a losing effort, with an admirable 32 touches leading all comers. He had support from Pat Lipinski and Lachie Hunter, but Josh Dunkley and Marcus Bontempelli had extremely disappointing games.
Aaron Naughton – who failed to play out the game after suffering a serious knee injury – booted two majors, with no other Bulldog booting more than one.
The Giants will face either Brisbane or Richmond away next weekend, while the Dogs’ stunning finals berth comes to an end before it really ever began.
GWS Giants 16.17.113
Western Bulldogs 8.6.54