GWS has caused a giant boilover against the Western Bulldogs, denying the Dogs a confirmed Grand Final berth and keeping up with the teams at the top with an 18-point win.
Courtney Gum was remarkable for the home side, particularly in the third quarter when the Bulldogs had all the running, and kicking a critical goal in the fourth term.
The Bulldogs were playing for a spot in the Grand Final, but they ran into an inspired GWS team that was not willing to leave the premiership conversation.
A loss means that the Bulldogs need to beat Melbourne next week just to confirm their spot.
As for the Giants, a date with Brisbane next week is going to be can’t-miss footy.
For now at least, GWS occupies second spot on the ladder with Melbourne still to play tomorrow.
Keen to avoid a similar fate to the one the Lions suffered earlier in the day, the Western Bulldogs were quick out of the blocks, taking less than 30 seconds for Kirsten McLeod to soccer through the game’s first goal after her opponent failed to rush the behind.
The Giants would be no pushovers, however, putting together some attractive chains of footy and hunting in packs.
Jess Dal Pos was able to deliver a pinpoint handball to the running Nicola Barr, whose short delivery to Jacinda Barclay capped off a gorgeous piece of play.
The Dogs might’ve been a bit mesmorised, as Barclay was able to spot Aimee Schmidt a further 20 metres closer to goal, making it a much easier opportunity and a subsequent goal.
But again the Dogs would show show off their burst speed, this time it was Monique Conti racing away from her opponent to soccer through her first AFLW goal after what has felt like a million missed chances this year.
Still, the Giants hunted in packs, and although they were down a goal at the first break, were matching the Dogs as much as possible at the contests.
The one anomaly was Emma Kearney who, in stark contrast to last weekend when she was tagged closely, seemed to be a free-roaming midfielder, earning nine disposals, three clearances, three rebound 50s and four tackles in the first quarter alone.
The Bulldogs started the second term how they started the game, with Kirsten McLeod kicking the first goal within a minute.
But the quarter would completely turn on its head from that point on, with GWS continuing to press and putting all the pressure on the Bulldogs defence.
Rebecca Beeson was able to find Jodie Hicks after a sensational transition passage, in which Jacinda Barclay was involved multiple times, and Hicks converted the attempt.
It looked as though GWS might not get full value for all their pressure, but a moment of genius from Cora Staunton – which we are beginning to become accustom to – saw her break out of congestion and handball to Jess Dal Pos, whose raking left-footy shot put the Giants up by two points.
A matter of moments later, it would be Dal Pos finding Staunton with a delivery inside 50, as the Irishwoman took off, shrugged her opponent and curled home the Giants’ third goal in a row, giving GWS an eight-point lead at half-time.
The third term belonged to the Bulldogs; however, they struggled to turn their midfield dominance into goals.
The Giants defence, with Courtney Gum playing superbly in the defensive 50, were able to negate almost everything the Dogs attempted to do.
It took Jenna Bruton roving expertly to finally get the break through, as Bruton closed the gap with less than four minutes to go in the term.
Kearney had the opportunity to kick the go-ahead goal with seconds left in the quarter, but was unable to keep her cool after a four-bounce run.
Any notion that the Giants might be overrun in the final term was eliminated when Gum converted from a 50 metre penalty, stretching the Giants’ lead out to seven points.
With the lead still not secure, Elle Bennetts showed a cool head to keep the ball in along the boundary line, bring the ball inboard and give Alicia Eva a chance to kick the sealing major, which she did.
Facing a 13-point deficit with only five minutes left, the Bulldogs committed as much as they could to attack, but it left gaps defensively which Amanda Farrugia was able to exploit.
The Giants keep doing everything they have to do to stay in the premiership race, standing up to yet another challenge.
The match against Brisbane in the final round now becomes crucial for both teams, with a GWS win likely enough to confirm a Grand Final berth just 12 months after finishing at the bottom of the ladder in the inaugural season.
As for the Western Bulldogs, this loss makes life tough. They retain top spot on the ladder, but a loss to Melbourne next week – assuming the Dees beat Carlton as expected on Sunday – would likely see the Dogs miss out on a Grand Final spot altogether.
GWS: 1.2, 4.4, 4.4, 7.4 (46)
Western Bulldogs: 2.2, 3.2, 4.3, 4.4 (28)
GWS: Aimee Schmidt, Jodie Hicks, Jess Dal Pos, Cora Staunton, Courtney Gum, Alicia Eva, Amanda Farrugia
Western Bulldogs: Kirsten McLeod 2, Monique Conti, Jenna Bruton
GWS: Courtney Gum (23), Alicia Eva (17), Jess Dal Pos (16)
Western Bulldogs: Emma Kearney (22), Ellie Blackburn (16), Brooke Lochland (15), Hannah Scott (15)
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