The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - FRONT PAGE - AT THE MCG

THE Giants have brought down Go­liath.

Banned, bro­ken and bruised, the AFL’s so-called plas­tic club showed their bot­tom­less char­ac­ter.

Toby Greene’s face was an ex­plo­sion of emo­tion on full time as the su­per­star, who was sen­sa­tion­ally sus­pended for the pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal, was given a chance to live out his dream on grand fi­nal day fol­low­ing the drama of one of the most bizarre fi­nals games ever played.

Phil Davis, the club’s in­au­gu­ral cap­tain, pro­duced one of the most war­rior-like per­for­mances ever seen in Septem­ber, play­ing through the pain of a dis­lo­cated fin­ger in the pre-game, a bung shoul­der and most pro­foundly, a calf he pinged in the first quar­ter of the game.

Lion-hearted and coura­geous, Davis played out the match up for­ward and took a key mark in the midst of Colling­wood’s late tsunami that proved crit­i­cal. He is con­fi­dent he will play the grand fi­nal.

Lachie Keefe – a Colling­wood re­ject – re­placed the ir­re­place­able Greene and played the game of his life. Keefe played on Brody Mi­ho­ceck and go­ing into the fi­nal stretch, Mi­ho­ceck had lit­er­ally not touched the foot­ball the en­tire day.

Half-back Zac Wil­liams went into mid­field to fill in for his best mate Lachie Whitfield, sent for ap­pen­dix surgery on Wed­nes­day, and the in­dige­nous kid from coun­try NSW was the best on ground.

Most wrote off GWS the mo­ment Greene and freak tal­ent Whitfield were ruled out.

Just like the crit­ics who over­whelm­ingly fore­shad­owed GWS miss­ing the fi­nals this year.

Just like those same crit­ics who once they made it, said they were mak­ing up the num­bers for the play­offs. Just like the even greater army of naysay­ers who said a team in rugby league’s heart­land would fall flat on its face.

But in the fi­nal quar­ter when Colling­wood swarmed, GWS mus­tered ev­ery ounce of grit that has been in­grained in them ever since they first ran the club out of a back room Rooty Hill RSL, be­cause they had no other home.

Colling­wood pres­i­dent Ed­die McGuire was one of the most damn­ing voices, yet last night he ven­tured into the GWS rooms to give credit where it was due.

Only eight years old, GWS proved on the big­gest stage and against all the odds that all the ‘fake club’ jibes are fake news.

“Have a look at that spirit out there to­day,” said chair­man, Tony Shep­herd. “Play­ers like Lachie Keefe come in (for Greene) and play their hearts out and made that game hap­pen. That’s not ar­ti­fi­cial. Lachie didn’t come out of the AFL academy sys­tem. That’s a great club. That’s a club with true spirit. And truly a spirit that the other 17 clubs aspire to.

“This is the mo­ment we’ve been wait­ing for. Lots of in­juries, lots of set­backs. Tonight shows we are there. We have ar­rived. We’re a young club in for­eign coun­try. A grand fi­nal af­ter eight years is truly re­mark­able achieve­ment.”

The scenes in the GWS rooms at full­time were ex­tra­or­di­nary.

Ev­ery year two teams make the grand fi­nal, but it is a rare mo­ment in his­tory when a side gets there for the first time. In GWS’s case the peo­ple in­volved on the field and off it have lit­er­ally built the club from scratch.

“I’m just so proud,” said GWS’s in­spi­ra­tion, Phil Davis. “We played some amaz­ing footy for 100 min­utes and they were un­be­liev­able for 15 min­utes, which we ex­pected, and then the last five min­utes, just the size of the fight and the heart in the group, I was just re­ally proud of them.

“It was more my back (which was sore). I just hurt my back a bit, and it caused me a few other things. But I’ll be fine. We’ve been through some se­ri­ous hard­ships — not just this year but the pre­vi­ous seven years as well. That makes you bet­ter. We’re ex­cited.”

Giants cap­tain Phil Davis.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.