Toby Greene in action during the AAMI Community Series match between Greater Western Sydney and Gold Coast at Manuka Oval on February 29, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

GREATER Western Sydney captain Toby Greene led from the front as the Giants downed Gold Coast by 44 points in their final pre-season hitout before the clubs' Opening Round clashes.

After missing last week's match sim, Greene was outstanding and finished with three goals as his side cruised to the 15.15 (105) to 9.7 (61) victory at Manuka Oval on Thursday night.

GIANTS v SUNS Full match coverage and stats

In new Suns coach Damien Hardwick's final rehearsal before officially resuming his AFL coaching tenure, alarm bells were ringing when the Suns fell 65 points behind in the third term before rallying late to lose by 44 points.

Giants coach Adam Kingsley, who coached under Hardwick at Richmond for four years, saw his side dominate clearances and contested possession while producing their trademark transition football to slice up the Suns.


It wasn't the encouraging performance the Suns would have been hoping for, at one stage conceding 11 unanswered goals as GWS ran rampant.


Gold Coast was warming up for its March 9 season opener against Richmond, where Hardwick will battle his former side.

The Giants take on Collingwood later that day in a preliminary final rematch, and will be confident they can avenge that defeat after running rings around the Suns.


Midfield bull Tom Green looked as powerful as ever, racking up 30 touches, eight clearances and a goal, while winger Xavier O'Halloran (25 disposals) carved up the Suns through the middle of the ground.

This allowed their forwards to cash in, with Greene (three goals, five marks) a constant threat up forward, while Callum Brown (three goals), Brent Daniels and Jake Riccardi (both two) also hit the scoreboard.


Effort appeared lacking at times for the Suns, who hit the front early in the match when silky forward Jack Lukosius slotted three first-quarter goals.

What followed was a 76-3 onslaught during which the Suns looked entirely uncompetitive, perhaps reminding Hardwick of the size of the job in front of him at Gold Coast.

Hardwick's troops did rally late and booted five straight goals in the second half when the Giants rested some of their key cogs.

However, it was a night to forget for Suns key forward Ben King.

After signing a two-year contract extension last week, King failed to register a disposal until 30 seconds before half-time. He finished the match with a miserly four touches to go with a solitary behind.


New faces
Both sides went with a tried and tested line-up for the match, with just a handful of new faces featuring. Giants Academy product Harvey Thomas (14 touches, three clearances, six tackles) showed plenty while Toby McMullin - who featured in the final three home and away games last season - kicked a nice goal in the final term. Gold Coast Academy product Will Graham was named on the bench but ultimately wasn't used until the final quarter, while fellow Academy selections Jed Walter (shoulder), Jake Rogers and Ethan Read didn't feature in the game. Giants' first-round draft picks Phoenix Gothard and James Leake are slated for the VFL early in the season.

Round one chance
We didn't see a lot of Aaron Cadman in his debut year, but that could all be about to change in 2024. The former No.1 pick played 12 games in his first season but has had a strong summer and looks to have accelerated his push to become a regular figure in the Giants' attack. While it wasn't a show-stopping outing in Thursday night's practice match, it certainly was a confidence-boosting one for the 19-year-old, flashing his potential with some acrobatic marking attempts, and finishing with one goal. It was a night to forget for many Suns players, but Tom Berry certainly put his hand up for an Opening Round call-up after managing just six games last season due to a shoulder injury. The 23-year-old kicked a goal and took a handful of strong marks in a Suns forward line that was starved of opportunity for much of the game.

Aaron Cadman takes a mark during the AAMI Community Series match between Greater Western Sydney and Gold Coast at Manuka Oval on February 29, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

Medical room
The Giants took a cautious approach with forward Brent Daniels, who was put on ice during the third term after injuring his heel. Other than that, both sides got through the match relatively unscathed but are sweating on the fitness of a handful of players who missed the hitout through injury. Gold Coast went into the game without small forward Malcolm Rosas jnr (quad), while No.3 draft pick Jed Walter (shoulder) is expected to be available in the early rounds and defender Lachie Weller (ACL) will be ready for a return later in the season. Finn Callaghan (shoulder), Harry Perryman (hamstring) and Isaac Cumming (quad) all missed through injury, while the Giants managed forward Jesse Hogan and Darcy Jones missed with tonsillitis.

Fantasy watch
The player Fantasy coaches were most keen to see in this fixture was Alex Sexton (FWD, $382,000). It has been flagged many times this pre-season and once again we saw the defensive role and he delivered in spades. Taking kick-ins, linking up in ball movement out of the backline. Sexton top scored with 115 thanks to 31 disposals and 11 marks. He's the cheap forward option we need! Premium midfielders Tom Green (MID, $998,000) and Touk Miller (MID, $868,000) scored Fantasy tons and anyone wanting to go there wouldn't be turned off. Sam Flanders (MID/FWD, $809,000), however, didn't get the score most were after. He'll be a big Opening Round watch ahead of locking our teams in for round one. It looks like Bodhi Uwland (DEF, $219,000) may not make the Suns' 22 despite racking up 32 points in 24 per time on ground late in the game, but Harvey Thomas (MID/FWD, $200,000) may make his debut following his 14 disposals, three marks and six tackles for 66 Fantasy points. - Warnie from The Traders


GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY    5.2    9.9    13.13    15.15 (105)
GOLD COAST                             3.2    3.3     6.5       9.7 (61)

Greater Western Sydney:
Brown 3, Greene 3, Daniels 2, Riccardi 2, Bedford, Cadman, Green, McMullin, Ward
Gold Coast: Lukosius 4, Anderson, Berry, Holman, Humphrey, Miller

Greater Western Sydney:
Greene, Green, Himmelberg, Brown, O'Halloran
Gold Coast:
Sexton, Miller, Lukosius, Powell, Anderson

Greater Western Sydney:
Daniels (heel soreness)
Gold Coast: