Sport AFL AFL Finals 2017: Relentless Giants scuttle Eagles’ hopes with a 67-point shellacking

AFL Finals 2017: Relentless Giants scuttle Eagles’ hopes with a 67-point shellacking

Lachie Whitfield of the Giants tosses Eagle Brad Sheppard aside late in the game. AAP/David Moir
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The GWS Giants have bounced back after last week’s crushing loss to Adelaide, eliminating West Coast with a 67-point win at Sydney Showgrounds in their semi-final on Saturday night.

The Giants led for almost the entire night, and they had far too much in reserve for the Eagles, running out winners by 19.11 (125) to 9.4 (58) to seal a spot in the preliminary final against Richmond.

Leon Cameron’s men had been roundly criticised for their inability to fire a shot in the qualifying final against the Crows, but that all changed in their home semi.

After kicking the opening goal, the Giants conceded two quick scores to the Eagles, but they steadied to kick four of the next five to lead by 16 points at quarter time.

The home side out-tackled, out-pressured and out-possessed West Coast, returning to the sort of swift ball movement that had marked their better performances in 2017.

GWS kept firing in the second term, kicking four goals to one and extending the lead to 35 points at the long break.

The trend continued in the third term, with Jonathon Patton opening his account for the night with a big mark and goal at the five-minute mark.

But the story of the second half was the re-emergence of veteran forward Steve Johnson.

Johnson — who will retire at the end of the season and was recalled to the Giants side after injury ruled out Jeremy Cameron for the finals — took full advantage of his opportunity.

He kicked four goals in 17 minutes in the third term, as the Eagles defence struggled to find a way of stopping him.

In a moment that summarised the Eagles’ dreadful night, the pile-on Giants are all over their hapless opponents.

The lead was out to 68 points by the final change and GWS was well on the way to the prelim.

West Coast managed to kick three early goals in the final quarter to put a slightly better slant on the scoreboard in the final term, but it was only a temporary reprieve as the Giants came home with a rush.

Johnson ended up with six goals for the Giants, with three for Toby Greene and two for Patton. West Coast key forward Josh Kennedy was kept quiet for most of the match, only managing a single goal, with two majors to Mark LeCras.

The sour note for GWS was a potential knee injury to key defender Nick Haynes that saw him sit out the final quarter.

For West Coast, the loss marked the end of the careers of retiring midfielders Matt Priddis and Sam Mitchell — the latter ended the game on a high-point, kicking his second of the night with a minute left.

Last year the Giants missed out on the Grand Final, losing by a kick against the Western Bulldogs. They will now see if they can go one better in 2017 when they play the Tigers next Saturday in a prelim at the MCG.

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