Greater Western Sydney have given the strongest indication yet that their days of AFL wooden spoons may be a thing of the past, thrashing St Kilda by 68 points in the NAB Challenge match at Wagga Wagga.
Without reading too much into practice match form, the Giants could hardly have been more impressive in Saturday’s 7.11.10 (139) to 0.10.11 (71) victory.
Dylan Shiel booted three super-goals – earning his junior club Edithvale-Aspendale $1500 worth of footballs courtesy of the competition sponsor – as the Giants landed seven nine-pointers, including five in a stunning second-quarter blitz.
The Giants have finished last in each of their first two home and away campaigns, but the way rising stars like Jeremy Cameron, Adam Treloar and Tomas Bugg combined with experienced recruits Shane Mumford, Josh Hunt, Heath Shaw and Dylan Addison suggested the team has every right to aim higher in their third season.
Which is hardly good news for St Kilda, another team widely expected to finish neat the bottom of the ladder in 2014.
“We’re trying to win games and it’s good to have one early this year,” Shiel told Fox Sports.
“Full credit to how the club has drafted.
“It’s great to have that experience around the club.”
To make matters worse for the Saints, gun onballer Lenny Hayes’ day ended late in the third quarter with a suspected hamstring injury.
After an even first term, the Saints took a six-point lead early in the second quarter after a goal from impressive youngster Josh Saunders.
But that proved to be the high point of a low day for St Kilda.
Key forward Jonathan Patton got the Giants shortly afterwards going with a nine-pointer from a set shot and they didn’t look back.
With the aid of a stiff breeze they kicked 64 unanswered points, with Shiels, Nick Haynes, Will Hoskin-Elliott and Jeremy Cameron also kicking super-goals in what must surely have been the best quarter of football in GWS’s short time in the competition.
The Giants held a 58-point lead at halftime.
St Kilda were more competitive after the long break but the Giants were able to push the final margin out to 68 thanks to Shiel’s second and third super-goals in the final term.
Cameron, who became the Giants’ first All-Australian last year, kicked a game-high five goals.
GWS midfielder Stephen Coniglio was subbed out of the match in the first quarter after failing a concussion test.