Greater Western Sydney were not allowed into Brisbane until game day due to Melbourne’s coronavirus outbreak. It was almost quarter time before they turned up at the Gabba.
A scoreline of 0-40 on a Gabba green top usually makes for pretty reading but not for the undermanned Giants, whose first score did not come until 27 minutes into the game.
Callan Ward was one of few Giants to offer resistance against the Lions.Credit:Getty
They were competitive in the second and fourth quarters but were left floundering when the Lions chose to click into another gear.
The Lions’ 64-point win – 19.15 (129) to 10.5 (65) – sets up another Friday night blockbuster next round when they are due to take on Melbourne in a clash between two of this year’s leading flag contenders.
There has been much to like about the Giants since the first three rounds but this was a backward step by a side that had begun the round in the top eight.
If the Giants want an out, perhaps they could point to their last-minute change in travel plans or their lengthy injury list – they had nine of their best 22 unavailable – but there could be no excusing their uncompetitive performance in the first quarter.
Lions star Charlie Cameron was influential in his side’s 64-point win.Credit:Getty
Leon Cameron’s young side was devoured by a hungry pride of Lions, who were ferocious when they did not have the ball and far too slick for their opponents when they did.
If not for Lachie Whitfield, Callan Ward and Connor Idun, one of few Giants defenders competing at the required level, the scoreboard would have looked even uglier for GWS.
The trio found more assistance in the final three quarters though the club’s hierarchy will be right to wonder why it took so long for some players to apply themselves to the task.
Several Giants racked up big numbers, including Tim Taranto (36 possessions), who recovered from a poke in the eye, and Jacob Hopper (31) but their side was totally outclassed.
A day after Melbourne underlined its premiership credentials, the Lions made a statement of their own.
This win was achieved without Brownlow Medallist Lachie Neale and with minimal impact from Hugh McCluggage.
Charlie Cameron brought the razzle dazzle, his solitary goal more a reflection of his, and the Lions’, selfless attitude than anything else.
But it’s the Lions’ preparedness to invest defensively that has them well placed for a tilt at their first flag since 2003. Like the top of the ladder Dees, they are well organised behind the ball to squeeze the space available for their opponent.
Many of the Giants’ possessions were sideways kicks that gained little territory, and when they kicked long they played into the hands of Harris Andrews and his teammates.
Mitch Robinson was arguably best afield. Playing with the energy of a perpetually wound up toy, the cult figure kicked four goals to go with his 30 possessions. He brought the crowd to its feet with his 55-metre bomb after the three-quarter siren and his boundary line snap in the last term.
Meanwhile, the Swans can can put distance between themselves and the challengers for their spot in the eight with a win against Carlton at the SCG on Sunday.
The Swans have lost in-form ruckman Tom Hickey to injury and dropped gun youngster Nick Blakey among four changes.
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