GREATER Western Sydney has once again breathed life into its up and down season after beating raging premiership favourites Richmond by two points in a classic at Spotless Stadium on Saturday night.
Tigers star Jack Riewoldt snapped a goal at the death to give his side a chance to steal victory, but the Giants won the vital next centre clearance through Dylan Shield and hung on to prevail 11.13 (79) to 10.17 (77).
The Giants looked like coughing it up with some shaky moments in the final term but showed enough composure when it mattered to hand the inaccurate Richmond its fourth loss of the season, all of them on the road.
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It is a vital four points that sees Leon Cameron's side jump back into the top eight.
Lachie Whitfield was enormous in the second half and finished the night with 35 possessions and 12 marks in defence, with Callan Ward (33 disposals), Stephen Coniglio (30) and Heath Shaw (30) all prolific.
Youngsters Tim Taranto, Sam Taylor and Zac Langdon had some massive moments for GWS with the game on the line, with Langdon kicking three important goals.
Returning star Toby Greene booted two, including the home side's only major of the final quarter.
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Cameron said he was proud of the way his team responded against the League's best unit after last week's disappointing loss to West Coast, especially the efforts of some of his younger Giants.
"Tim (Taranto) had a really important third quarter and he ploughs in every week, and Langdon has been terrific for us and he delivered on a big stage," Cameron said.
"It was pleasing that our young kids stood up to that sort of pressure.
"It was a huge game for us and to come out on top was a great result for our footy club."
Daniel Rioli was a constant threat inside 50 for the premiers and grabbed three goals, with Brandon Ellis, Dion Prestia, Kane Lambert and Dustin Martin the chief ball-winners.
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick was left to lament his side's missed opportunities.
"It was a pretty torrid affair, it was a good, tough game of footy," he said post-match.
"We did some things really well and there were some things we didn’t do so well tonight.
"I thought what tended to happen was after their initial onslaught, at certain stages we controlled the game, but we just couldn’t get the scoreboard ascendency we were after.
"There’s some missed shots on goal, some goals we left on the table and we couldn’t seem to capitalise on our dominant patches as they did."
The Giants kicked four of the first five goals of the match in an enterprising start built on fierce tackle pressure, but the visitors worked their way into the contest and a couple of classy finishes from Rioli reduced the margin to 10 points at the first change.
Richmond carried their momentum into the second term and they hit the front at the 16-minute mark thanks to a brilliant snap from Martin.
Greene trumped the Brownlow medallist when he stepped around Nick Vlastuin on the mark and put GWS back in front, the home side two points clear at half-time in a pulsating contest.
The third quarter was a copy of the first when the Giants held sway for the first 10 minutes but failed to capitalise on the scoreboard, before it was the Tigers' turn to blow some chances with chief culprit Jason Castagna one of those wasteful with his fourth point of the night.
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Rioli nailed his third and Toby Nankervis floated forward to give Richmond another early in the last, before Greene grabbed his moment when he slotted his second from a tough angle to give the Giants a 13-point advantage.
Jayden Short launched a trademark bomb from a set shot from outside 50 to get the Tigers within seven points, but Castagna let another chance slip through his fingers and he finished with 0.5 for the night.
The Giants tried to control the dying minutes but kept letting Richmond back into the contest, and while Riewoldt gave them life with less than a minute to play, GWS managed to sneak away with the result.
Greater Western Sydney: Sam Reid looked sore in the right shoulder early in the third term but played out the match.
Richmond: The Tigers looked to have got through without any issues.
The Tigers will back up for a Friday night clash with St Kilda at Etihad Stadium, while the Giants get an eight-day break before they take on the Power at Adelaide oval on Sunday afternoon.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 4.3 7.6 10.10 11.13 (79)
RICHMOND 2.3 6.10 6.15 10.17 (77)
Greater Western Sydney: Langdon 3, Kelly 2, Taranto 2, Greene 2, Griffen, Coniglio
Richmond: Rioli 3, Riewoldt 2, Caddy, Martin, Prestia, Nankervis, Short
Greater Western Sydney: Ward, Coniglio, Whitfield, Shiel, Taranto, Langdon
Richmond: Martin, Lambert, Rioli, Grimes, Prestia, Short
Greater Western Sydney: Nil
Umpires: Findlay, Hosking, Margetts
Official crowd: 14,456 at Spotless Stadium