Greater Western Sydney has given Damien Hardwick even more reason to hate Marvel Stadium after all but ending Richmond’s finals hopes in emphatic fashion at the Docklands venue on Friday night.
In what was a virtual elimination final for both sides, with just two points and two positions separating them on the ladder, the Giants were the only ones who looked like they understood the gravity of the situation as they absolutely tore Richmond to shreds in the first half before running out comfortable 39-point winners.
The result saw GWS take a big step towards securing a finals berth, moving to seventh spot heading into the weekend, while Richmond now needs Fremantle to beat West Coast on Sunday, otherwise the Tigers will become the first back-to-back premiers to miss the finals since Adelaide in 1999, bringing an end to their incredible triple premiership dynasty.
But even if the Tigers do manage to somehow squeak into the eight, they’ll only be making up the numbers based on this performance.
Hardwick’s side had no answers for the Giants’ devastating centre clearance work, astonishing forward efficiency, manic pressure and electric run-and-carry.
The Giants not only capitalised on the lethargic Tigers’ lack of pressure on the ball carrier, but also regularly found holes in Richmond’s undersized backline.
After only taking five marks inside 50 for the entire game last week against Geelong, the Giants already had six by quarter-time as they shot out to a commanding 31-point lead, registering their best opening term in over two years.
Even midfielder Tim Taranto, who teamed up with Harry Himmelberg for four first-quarter goals, found himself outmarking Richmond key defender Ryan Garthwaite with strength.
And it got considerably worse for the Tigers in the second term as the Giants continued to steamroll them, slicing through their meagre resistance with ease to pile on another five consecutive goals and shoot out to a 56-point advantage just after time-on.
Greater Western Sydney averaged nine marks inside 50 per game this season, but already reached that figure by the 14-minute mark of the second quarter, finishing up with 15. The Tigers were overwhelmed and simply couldn’t cover the absences of David Astbury, Nathan Broad, Noah Balta and Bachar Houli down back – even with experienced hands such as Dylan Grimes and Nick Vlastuin still in the line-up.
With the heat well and truly taken out of the contest, the Giants kept their foot on Richmond’s throat in the second half to register their third-biggest win against the Tigers.
In his return to the side, Josh Kelly was the Giants’ most prolific ballwinner (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
GWS picks Tigers backs apart
Underscoring just how badly Richmond was struggling down back was the fact that GWS had 17 scoring shots (12.5) from just 27 inside 50s in the first half, at a staggering 63 per cent efficiency, to bring up its highest ever half-time score against the Tigers. The Giants finished the game with 16.10 from 56 at 46 per cent, with four goals coming from outside 50m, compared to Richmond’s 10.7 from 43 at 40 per cent.
Taranto steps up in attack
With GWS superstar Toby Greene out suspended, Taranto’s move forward proved to be an inspired decision. The on-baller had a career-high four goals by the 17-minute mark of the second quarter to be the main reason why the contest was over so early. He also ended up with 18 touches (nine contested) and a game-high eight score involvements.
Kelly celebrates new deal in style
After triggering the eight-year extension on his contract, Josh Kelly showed no signs of a post-signing hangover, starting brilliantly with 12 disposals and three tackles in the first quarter, before finishing with an equal game-high 32 possessions to go with 11 tackles and 10 contested touches. And he was supported beautifully by Jacob Hopper, another architect of the dominant victory with 26 disposals (11 contested), nine clearances, seven score involvements and a goal.
The Tigers will need multiple other results to go their way if they’re to make the finals from here. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
No respite for Tigers up forward
Even when the Tigers tried to go forward, GWS was so well set up, they couldn’t find a way through with GWS defenders Isaac Cumming, Nick Haynes and Sam Taylor dominating the airways, combining for 22 intercept possessions between them.
Tigers creativity stifled
Early in the third quarter, the Tigers actually had 20 more disposals than the Giants for the game, but at the same stage, Leon Cameron’s team had 600 more metres gained, highlighting the massive difference in attacking intent between both sides when they had possession of the ball.
GIANTS 7.3 12.5 15.8 16.10 (106)
TIGERS 2.2 4.3 6.4 10.7 (67)
LERNER’S BEST Giants: Taranto, Kelly, Hopper, Cumming, Haynes, Himmelberg, Ward. Tigers: Baker, Cotchin, Short, Prestia.
GOALS Giants: Taranto 4, Himmelberg 3, Lloyd 2, De Boer 2, Hogan, Hopper, Perryman, Ward, Mumford. Tigers: Baker 2, Lynch 2, Bolton 2, Edwards, Coleman-Jones, Riewoldt, M.Rioli.
LATE CHANGE David Astbury replaced in Richmond’s selected side by Ryan Garthwaite.
UMPIRES Rosebury, Stephens, Mollison
VENUE Marvel Stadium
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
3 T.Taranto (GWS)
2 J.Kelly (GWS)
1 J.Hopper (GWS)
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