They absolutely slayed them. The Greater Western Sydney Giants have made a huge case for being considered serious AFL premiership contenders after beating the Sydney Swans by 91-55 in the second qualifying final at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.
Wow. Just wow. This was not an underdog team having a good day. This was dominance. The teams were separated by just two points at the main break, and you just felt in your bones this was one of those matches that would be tight all the way.
Your bones were wrong.
If the first half was an arm wrestle, the second half was the Giants flexing their muscle and slowly lowering their opponent's arm to the table. The Giants just got stronger and stronger and pulling further and further away. The Swans just ran in circles.
Statistics are overused these days as a means of explaining how one team got the better of another, but there's one stat that stands out in this match. The Giants made 96 tackles to 64. In other words, they out-Swanned the Swans. They also smothered twice as many kicked. In short, they were desperate. And ultimately, that hard-won ball delivered more scoring opportunities.
The final margin was 36 points. The Swans had finished top of the table in the regular season, only losing five matches along the way. This was their second biggest loss of the season. The biggest? A seven goal loss to the Giants.
"They've gone from a laughing stock to an emerging powerhouse," said the Channel Seven commentator after the game. They've done that all right. The Giants have also made the crosstown rivalry a genuine thing.
Previously the rivalry had been something that existed more in the minds of marketers than players and fans. Now it's on. Swans versus Giants. Sydney has a real AFL rivalry. And a footy soul to go with it.
For the winners, Jeremy Cameron was enormous in every sense of the goal, kicking four goals and dominating the Swans with his physicality. But the whole team was great. Sixteen Giants players had played less than 100 games and never been near the field in an AFL final. Yet they were still too tough, too enthusiastic, too skilled and too good.
Lance Franklin tried hard for the Swans. Early in the game he saw plenty of the ball and was his team's leading possession-getter for a while. But he failed to kick a goal for the whole game. In the end, the Swans' biggest name -- a true giant of the game -- was made to look small.
The Giants now have a week off before a home preliminary final against either the Bulldogs or Hawks. A grand final berth looms and -- who knows? -- perhaps an unthinkable premiership in just their fifth season.Suggest a correction