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Last time we met the Giants

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Last time we met the Giants West Coast failed at the final hurdle against GWS away from home
AFL 2017 Round 22 - Photographers Choice

Nathan Vardy takes a big mark over teammate Brad Sheppard and GWS' Matt de Boer

Everything is this game is relative. A crowd of 15,751 at Spotless Stadium for a GWS home game was a record for a non-Sydney derby.

They created plenty of noise during a pulsating contest that reached its zenith in the middle of the last quarter. West Coast spearhead Josh Kennedy was on a searching lead as a dart from Brad Sheppard was in the crosshairs of the Coleman medallist’s outstretched hands.

At roughly the same time, young Giant Josh Kelly, himself fixed on the ball and seeing nothing else, cut across the flight path of the rampaging 100kg Eagles star. Bang!

The inevitable collision reverberated abound the half-full stadium. Medical staff from both benches ran on-field to tend to the injured. Kennedy was first up; obviously sore he got to his feet, hobbled for a few steps, stopped and sucked in some deep breaths.

Kelly stayed down a while more. It might have been only 30 seconds but it seemed longer. A towel was held to his face to mop up the blood trickling freely from a gash on his cheek. He had been sent off by umpires because of the blood rule.

By the time Kelly stepped through the interchange gate, Kennedy had composed himself. He took his shot for goal and with unerring accuracy split the middle. The Eagles trailed by just a behind. The visitors were up and about and the best man on the ground was off it, nursing a sore head.

Things were looking good for this pivotal match that the Eagles needed to win, if not to lock down a finals spot then at least going a long way towards doing so.

If West Coast had thought they had seen the last of Kelly, however, they were sadly mistaken. Bandaged to stop the flow of claret, he bravely returned and inspired his team to score the last three goals of the game to run out 21-point victors, kicking an important major himself.

It was a gut-wrenching defeat, but one which had come despite a committed performance from the club.

Aside from Kennedy, who so often battled more than one man in a contest, retiring midfielder Matt Priddis was outstanding and made a lie of his own assertion that he could not play as a forward. He kicked two goals and it so easily could have been more.

Elliot Yeo played at half-back opposed to the dangerous and volatile Toby Greene, who kicked three goals, but was probably shaded in that individual battle by the versatile Eagle.

Also down back, veteran key defender Eric Mackenzie and his polar opposite, at least in terms of age and experience, Tom Barrass held key GWS forwards Jon Patton and Jeremy Cameron to just one goal between them. Jeremy McGovern also played his role.

Skipper Shannon Hurn was again rock solid, as was Sheppard.

Through the middle, Priddis had strong support from Luke Shuey, Sam Mitchell, Jack Redden and Dom Sheed. Stopper Mark Hutchings was effective against Dylan Shiel and Drew Petrie and Nathan Vardy were combative big men.

There was a lot to like about this performance, but the scoreboard was not among them.  

Round 22

Saturday, August 19 - Spotless Stadium

GWS Giants                       2.1         7.4         8.6         12.9         (81)
West Coast Eagles           3.1         6.3         8.5         9.6           (60)

GWS Giants: Greene 3; Deledio 2; Shiel, Kelly, Patton, Whitfield, Wilson, Mumford, Scully.
West Coast Eagles: Kennedy 4; Priddis 2; Petrie, Cripps, Partington.