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2023 Toyota AFL Premiership
Euro-Yroke v GWS GIANTS
Finals Week 1 •
77 11.11
Kennedy - Official Timekeeper Full Time
101 15.11
GIANTS Won By 24
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    LIVE from 3.20pm AEST: Saints host Giants in elimination final

    Who will win the do-or-die battle between St Kilda and Greater Western Sydney

    Jesse Hogan and Cal Wilkie compete for the ball during Greater Western Sydney's elimination final against St Kilda on September 9, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

    SUMMARY

    In many ways these two clubs that welcomed new coaches last off-season enter September already having exceeded expectations, but that will be little consolation to whoever bows out after this elimination final.

    The Giants come in as one of the hottest teams in the League, winning nine of their past 11 matches, including a final round triumph over red-hot Carlton, to qualify for the top eight. On the other hand, St Kilda had to defend its spot grimly as the season wore on, riding out a rough patch in the middle of the year to regain strong form late and frank Ross Lyon's first year back in charge.

    St Kilda v Greater Western Sydney at the MCG, 3.20pm AEST 

    LATE CHANGES
    St Kilda: Nil
    Greater Western Sydney: Stephen Coniglio, replaced in the selected side by Xavier O’Halloran

    SUBSTITUTES
    St Kilda: 
    Liam Stocker
    Greater Western Sydney: Nick Haynes

    All eyes will be on Sam Taylor's hamstring this week, with last year's All-Australian full-back crucial to the Giants' success.

    Where and when: MCG, Saturday September 9, 3.20pm AEST

    WHAT HAPPENED THIS YEAR? 

    Round 10: Greater Western Sydney 12.8 (80) lost to St Kilda 13.14 (92) at Giants Stadium

    Just before the Giants really got rolling under new coach Adam Kingsley, and while the Saints were humming under Lyon, the teams played out a gripping contest that involved 13 lead changes. It was Max King's first game back following a shoulder reconstruction and hamstring problems, and the Saints spearhead wasted no time returning to his best, booting four goals in the win. Jack Higgins (three goals) was also influential, while All-Australian Jack Sinclair (37 disposals and two goals) also had a huge say. Brent Daniels (24 and two goals) was exceptional for the Giants, and although they didn't get the premiership points, this performance was enough to show what was coming just around the corner.

    08:34

    THE STATS THAT MATTER

    St Kilda
    The Saints have been the toughest team to score against in 2023, giving up an average of less than 72 points a game. They've conceded more than 90 points just once – when the AFL's highest scoring team Adelaide put 121 on them in round nine. It should be little surprise with two All-Australians in the back six, Callum Wilkie and Jack Sinclair, but scoring against the Saints is easier said than done.

    Callum Wilkie and Jack Sinclair celebrate a goal during the match between Greater Western Sydney and St Kilda at GIANTS Stadium in round 10, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

    Greater Western Sydney
    Although it's Ross Lyon teams that are known for defence and pressure, the Giants have built their game off tackling in 2023. They are ranked second for tackle differential (plus-6.2) and likewise for tackles inside forward 50 (plus three). If the Giants are within striking distance at three quarter-time, look out. Kingsley's team has won 16 of 23 final quarters this year, trailing only Melbourne (17) for the best mark in the League.

    Callan Ward tackles Ben Hobbs during the match between Greater Western Sydney and Essendon at GIANTS Stadium on August 19, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

    IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR… 

    St Kilda
    By his extremely lofty standards this has been a slightly down year for St Kilda captain Jack Steele, but he's the type of player that thrives on physicality and highly contested matches like finals. Leading his midfield to out-work Tom Green, Josh Kelly and Callan Ward will go a long way towards the Saints advancing to a semi-final.

    Jack Steele handpasses the ball during the match between St Kilda and Richmond at UTAS Stadium in round 22, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

    Greater Western Sydney
    Regardless of the fitness of Sam Taylor (who the Giants are obviously hopeful of regaining), Jack Buckley will have a big assignment. Max King kicked four goals last time the teams met, while Tim Membrey showed flashes of a return to form with his three goals in the final round against Brisbane. Slowly down their influence will make scoring difficult for the Saints.

    PREDICTION

    Greater Western Sydney by four points. There's really nothing in this one and you can expect a scrap right to the end, but the Giants might just have enough scoring flexibility to eke out a winning total against the stingy Saints. Just.

    04:50

    Giants surf tsunami over Saints and straight into semis

    Greater Western Sydney proves too good for St Kilda and continues to ride momentum into week two of finals

    Toby Bedford celebrates a goal during the elimination final between St Kilda and Greater Western Sydney at the MCG on September 9, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

    GREATER Western Sydney has progressed to the second week of September for the sixth time in eight seasons after a resilient 24-point elimination final win against St Kilda at the MCG on Saturday.

    The Orange Tsunami was back on the big stage after a one-year absence, but this time under first-year coach Adam Kingsley, bringing a relentless mix of grit and flair to see off several challenges from the Saints and win 15.11 (101) to 11.11 (77).

    SAINTS v GIANTS Full match coverage and stats

    It continued an excellent record for the club, which has won at least one final in all its finals campaigns, including the first five under previous coach Leon Cameron, when the 2019 Grand Finalists were first dubbed the 'Orange Tsunami'.

    The Giants, whose run and dare was a key factor on Saturday, will hit the road next week after booking a semi-final place against the loser of Saturday night's clash between Brisbane and Port Adelaide at the Gabba.

    08:51

    It is season over for the Saints, who twice fell more than 40 points behind but never gave up in the first final between the two clubs. There was ultimately a gulf in class at the top end, however, as the Giants' runners set the tone.

    Experienced pair Lachie Whitfield (31 disposals and seven inside 50s) and Josh Kelly (27 and two goals) who were both there when the team last played a final at the MCG in the 2019 decider, were outstanding, while young midfielder Tom Green (36 and nine inside 50s) produced a massive finals performance.  

    00:36

    The run of half-back Lachie Ash (31 and 10 rebounds) was critical, with ruckman Kieren Briggs (28 hit-outs and eight clearances) also giving the team an unexpected advantage against Rowan Marshall, with the Giants winning the hit-outs 35-18. 

    In an otherwise even team performance that was orchestrated without key midfielder Stephen Coniglio (eye), who was a late withdrawal, Jake Riccardi booted three goals and Toby Bedford (two) stood up in attack after his fortnight of Tribunal uncertainty. 

    While he didn't own the air for the Saints, Marshall (31 disposals) got it done at ground level with a game-high nine clearances, with captain Jack Steele (38 and eight clearances) standing up under finals pressure against his former team.

    00:36

    Max King booted three goals, with Cooper Sharman (two) a dangerous target. The Saints had too many passengers go missing at critical periods of the game, however, in a loss that will surely burn for the team over summer.

    Two of this year's surprise finalists after appointing new coaches in the off-season, the Giants and Saints each entered September in form and went goal for goal early as they fought to get the game on their terms.

    00:36

    It was Kingsley who eventually won out as GWS went on a run of six straight inside 50s and dominated field position, with Green, Kelly and Briggs establishing the midfield ascendency and the defenders pressing up high.

    When Brent Daniels converted his 45m set shot, the Giants had their highest first-quarter score at the MCG and an 18-point lead at the first break in enemy territory.

    They gathered pace to start the second, with Jesse Hogan taking a contested mark to kick his second and Riccardi and Daniel Lloyd snapping accurately. When Daniels got creative in the pocket to find an accurate Kelly with a skilful pass, the Giants were in total control and seven goals clear.

    Well held to that point, Max King spearheaded the Saints' first challenge, kicking back-to-back goals after prevailing in contests against gun opponent Sam Taylor. Bradley Hill then snapped accurately with five seconds to play in the first half, cutting the margin to 23 points.

    00:56

    The Giants had all the answers again in the third as they rebuilt a 43-point lead, holding the Saints' goalless for more than 20 minutes and adding three of their own in what looked like the match-defining period. 

    As they had in the second term, however, the Saints struck late and kicked three quick goals on the back of Hill's creative run, including a snap from Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera as the siren was about to sound, to cut the margin to 25 points and set GWS a challenge to finish the job, which they did.

    00:30

    Relieved Bedford takes his chance
    An unheralded GWS forward line did the job on Saturday, with speedster Toby Bedford playing an important role after successfully overturning his one-match suspension at the AFL Appeals Board. The former Melbourne forward finished with two goals and seven score involvements from his 16 disposals, proving a handful in the third quarter when he sliced through the middle to set up a goal for Riccardi before converting a classy snap of his own. The hardness and clear decision-making of Daniel Lloyd and Brent Daniels proved critical as the Giants became just the second team this season to kick 100 points against the Saints. 

    00:33

    Green relishes finals stage
    In just his second final, 22-year-old Giant Tom Green produced a memorable September performance with the mix of toughness and class we’ve come to expect from the young gun. As the Giants got their running game going, it was Green who stood up in tackles and won contested possessions to get the ball in motion. And then he took his turn on the outside, racking up a game-high 705m gained. It's a lethal mix the Saints had no answer for, and a warning to rival midfielders this finals series.

    Tom Green in action during the elimination final between St Kilda and Greater Western Sydney at the MCG on September 9, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

    ALL THE HIGHLIGHTS

    ST KILDA                                    2.3    6.6     9.8    11.11 (77)
    GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY     5.3   10.5   13.9   15.11 (101)

    GOALS
    St Kilda: King 3, Sharman 2, Hill 2, Higgins, Marshall, Owens, Wanganeen-Milera
    Greater Western Sydney: Riccardi 3, Bedford 2, Brown 2, Hogan 2, Kelly 2, Callaghan, Greene, Daniels, Lloyd

    BEST
    St Kilda: Steele, Sharman, Marshall, Wanganeen-Milera, Hill
    Greater Western Sydney: Green, Kelly, Whitfield, Ash, Briggs, Bedford, Idun  

    INJURIES
    St Kilda: Wood (eye)
    Greater Western Sydney: Nil

    LATE CHANGES
    St Kilda: Nil
    Greater Western Sydney: Stephen Coniglio (eye) replaced in the selected side by Xavier O'Halloran

    SUBSTITUTES
    St Kilda: Liam Stocker (replaced Anthony Caminiti at half time)
    Greater Western Sydney: Nick Haynes (replaced Isaac Cumming in the fourth quarter)

    Crowd: 68,465 at the MCG

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