GWS Giants have played party-pooper to Daniel Giansiracusa’s AFL farewell with a last minute six-point win over the Western Bulldogs.
Devon Smith kicked a goal with 16 seconds remaining to ruin the veteran Bulldog’s last match, while sending their own retiree Josh Hunt out a winner.
With 30 seconds to play, Jake Stringer dropped a straight-forward mark inside 50, with the Giants able to rebound and snatch an 18.7 (115) to 15.19 (109) win.
Led by Will Hoskin-Elliot’s five goals, the Giants looked to have blown an early lead, trailing by nine points at the start of the final term.
But the Giants resisted a long stretch of Bulldog dominance to set up the winning play.
The madcap last quarter was in sharp contrast to the start of the match, with early mistakes costly for the Bulldogs.
If GWS led early by taking their opportunities, with 4.0 to 2.4 at quarter-time, they surged in the second term on their talent.
A Giansiracusa goal provided brief respite for the Bulldogs, who had no answer to the Giants’ run.
The Giants kicked four goals in six minutes to push their lead to 32 points.
Dylan Shiel was clearing the lines, Phil Davis was strong in defence and centremen Adam Treloar and Hoskin-Elliot were surging forward to kick goals.
Fourth-gamer James Stewart was also a dangerous proposition, kicking two strong goals from outside 50 before a smart, running snap for this third.
The normally tenacious Bulldogs had just 18 tackles in the first half, but responded.
A fine running goal to Giansiracusa announced the Bulldogs as back in the contest, with two Stewart Crameri goals setting up Tom Liberatore to take the lead.
Captain Ryan Griffen was irrepressible around the packs, with Liberatore also influential.
If there was any doubt this game mattered to the players, it was gone on three-quarter time as a 36-player brawl broke out with Griffen at the bottom of the pack.
McCartney sat on the Bulldogs bench for a closer view of their last quarter, with Crameri’s purple patch extending to another goal.
But the Giants came again, with Hoskin-Elliot and Toby Greene goals grabbing back the lead.
The 14,725 in attendance may have come to farewell Giansiracusa but they were treated to a grandstand finish.
Hoskin-Elliot’s fifth, substitute Cam McCarthy’s bomb from 50 metres on the boundary and a tight Josh Kelly finish looked to have the Giants home.
But Bontempelli and Crameri returned fire to tie the scores with three minutes to play.
Giansiracusa had three chances to score for the Bulldogs in the last five minutes but managed only a point, as their final challenge faltered.