The AFL preliminary finals are set, with Greater Western Sydney to take on Collingwood and Richmond to meet Geelong.
On Saturday night the Giants overcame the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba by a mere three points in a game of see-sawing momentum with 10 lead changes.
In the end it was the second-smallest man in the AFL, the Giants’ Brent Daniels, who broke clear with only two minutes to play to kick the winning goal and set the final score at 12.11 (83) to 11.14 (78)
Daniels told Channel Seven after the game that he decided to kick checkside because he had been inaccurate with drop punts this season.
“Yeah, it was roll the dice a little bit,” Daniels admitted. “I went skinny and, lucky enough, I got on to it and I was thinking ‘just put it through’ … I was stoked.
“I missed a few droppies so I had to checker it.
“Yeah, it’s a great feeling.”
The Giants started the night with the first four goals, but the Lions hit back to kick the next four.
The game then turned into a battle of the backlines, with the Lions falling behind in the third quarter before dominating the last with 19 to seven inside 50s, although without being able to make a scoreboard impact.
There were several incidents that will come under match review scrutiny, with Lions star Lachie Neale emerging from a scuffle with Toby Greene holding an eye.
The umpires went against finals tradition and did not put the whistle away. There were 54 free kicks paid, 31-23 in the Giants’ favour.
Giants co-captain Phil Davis was immense in defence as the two teams kicked two goals apiece in the frenetic final term.
The medical staff at GWS will earn their keep over the next week, preparing the players as they try to beat the Magpies for their first grand final appearance.
After the Giants had mauled the Western Bulldogs and the Lions blew their chances against Richmond the week before, this was always going to be a fierce clash.
Umpire Shaun Ryan was heard in the match audio telling the Giants he would pay free kicks against them if they kept targeting Charlie Cameron’s bandaged elbow,
The All-Australian Lion was hurt in the first few minutes.
Brisbane looked in strife when GWS led by 12 points at halftime and then broke out to a 20-point lead early in the third. The last quarter epic ended in controversial circumstances with Daniels goal appearing to come after a Giants throw out of a pack.
Giants veteran Heath Shaw told Channel Seven he is looking forward to meeting his old Collingwood teammates in a preliminary final, having missed the semi-final between the teams last year.
“Obviously I missed out on playing last year in the final against the Pies at the ‘G, so I am pretty happy about playing against them,” Shaw said.
I messaged Pendles [Scott Pendlebury] for his 300th in the first final. I<br /> said, ‘Good luck I will see you in the prelim’. We will see how it goes.
“We knew it was going to be tough, but we play the way we want to play and today we have a few things we need to fix up but we will be confident going into next week as well. The belief is there, so we can’t ask for any more.”
Brisbane’s Lachie Neale said the Lions were flat after the loss, but should be happy with what they had achieved.
“I think combined win total of ten [games] in the previous 24 months, so to win 16 games this year and finish in the top two and give ourselves two home finals in front of some passionate fans was amazing for the footy club and for Brisbane in general,” he said.
“The boys should be super proud of their year and got to go again next year now.”
Friday: Richmond v Geelong, 7.50pm, MCG
Saturday: Collingwood v GWS 4.45pm, MCG