The Greater Western Sydney Giants have beaten Hawthorn 24.14 (158) to 12. 11 (83) in an emphatic 75 point win that raises genuine doubts over Hawthorn’s quest for a fourth straight flag.
Steve Johnson and Rory Lobb led the GWS offensive, kicking five and four goals respectively, while the Giants midfield was led brilliantly as ever by co-captain Callan Ward.
The Giants, who sat seventh on the ladder going into the match, now move into fifth with four wins and two losses, one spot above the Adelaide Crows.
GWS forward Steve Johnson said he expected a fierce Hawthorn side to turn up to Spotless Stadium in Sydney. The star recruit was wrong.
“We back our forwards to try and put pressure on, that’s how we created a lot of our goals in that first half, and then everyone sort of joined in and had a bit of fun,” Johnson said in a post-match interview.
The big-scoring upset left some Hawthorns fans feeling a little miffed.
Hawthorn had an off day all round. Sam Mitchell collected fewer possessions than usual and the whole midfield lacked its usual dominance. Whether this was a one-off shocker or a clear sign that Hawthorn's reign is over remains to be seen. But the signs are not good.
Hawthorn were the second oldest AFL Premiership winners as a combined group in 2015. Veteran player Shaun Burgoyne has said that maturity has helped the team take wins in difficult conditions, but that they risk being exposed to up-and-comers if they don’t improve. That's pretty much what happened on Saturday afternoon.
It could also indicate GWS are maturing faster than some pundits expected. The team debuted in the AFL in 2012 and took out the wooden spoon in its first two years of competition, but 2014 saw the Giants lift slightly before finishing middle of the pack in 2015.
The Giants next play the winless Fremantle Dockers, who became the first team to finish first one year, then lose their first six games the next year, after Saturday's 33 point loss to the Adelaide Crows.