THESE were Giant killers of a different kind.
As Greater Western Sydney went a long way to locking in its finals berth with a 39-point thrashing over Richmond, the Giants also effectively ended the Tigers' top-eight chances.
After three premierships in four years and back-to-back premierships, Richmond's now very, very slim 2021 finals hopes rely on West Coast losing its last two games and a stack of other results going its way in the rest of round 22 and round 23 next week.
The club's attempt for an historic third-consecutive flag was closed some time ago, but the Friday night loss to the Giants also served as a finishing blow to their finals hopes. The clash was billed as mini-knockout final but the reigning champs were on the canvas in the first round and their Marvel Stadium misery extended.
The Giants feasted on a tired Tigers outfit in the 16.10 (106) to 10.7 (67) win, which followed their season-defining victory over Geelong last week and leaves them as a bottom-half-of-the-eight threat for September.
GIANTS v TIGERS Full match coverage and stats
A smacking, dismantling, deconstruction or just a belting – whichever way you looked at it, Leon Cameron's men put their cards on the table early and went on with the job and had winners everywhere. Returning pair Josh Kelly (32 disposals) and Jacob Hopper (26) were terrific in the midfield, Tim Taranto kicked four goals and Isaac Cumming and Nick Haynes were stellar in defence.
They were in control from the start. In a first quarter of dominance, Greater Western Sydney skipped to a 31-point advantage at the opening change.
Jesse Hogan got the ball rolling with an early major and Taranto's two goals – one a strong snap after fighting off a tackle and the next a steady set shot – put the Giants in motion. And the game was almost over when Harry Himmelberg booted his second after the quarter-time siren as the Giants slammed home seven goals in a supreme showing.
Richmond's inexperienced defence, which had taken another blow pre-game with David Astbury out due to a quad injury, was under fire and the avalanche continued in the second term. The Tigers kicked the first goal of the quarter before the Giants slammed on the next five, a procession that included two more for Taranto and another for Himmelberg.
Liam Baker's second goal, just before half-time, dragged the margin back to 50 points at the main break. But there was no final swing from the Tigers, no last throw at the stumps, no comeback or run or shift of momentum. The Giants tailed off late but the game, like Richmond's run at the flag, was over.
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Kelly comes up trumps
Josh Kelly didn't let the speculation on his future impact his form when he was out of contract this year. But just days after recommitting to the Giants for a mammoth eight-year deal, Kelly put in one of his best performances of the season with 32 disposals in a brilliant midfield game. Kelly collected 12 disposals in the opening term after missing last week with a quad injury, had 19 by half-time and 26 by the last change, and he finished with a game-high 11 tackles.
Tim takes over from Toby
Days of conjecture about Toby Greene's suspension for striking Patrick Dangerfield – and his eventual unsuccessful appeal – left the Giants short of their superstar in a critical match. But Tim Taranto did a good impression of Greene, booting four goals from 18 disposals in an influential display. Taranto is one of the game's best inside midfielders but has always been able to push forward and hit the scoreboard and against the Tigers he was used in the front half for great impact. The Giants will welcome back Greene next week as they look to confirm their position in the top eight but the way they shared the spoils in attack against Richmond will fill them with confidence.
Young Giant's latest tall task
After a week of debate about Tom Lynch's form, the Richmond key forward had a poor start, giving away a free kick in the forward line that saw Jack Riewoldt's long goal disallowed. Lynch chipped in for a first-half goal, and then another early in the third term to finish with two majors. But Sam Taylor, fresh from taking down Geelong champion Tom Hawkins last week, was also important in the air with six marks.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 6.3 12.5 15.8 16.10 (106)
RICHMOND 2.2 4.3 6.4 10.7 (67)
Greater Western Sydney: Taranto 4, Himmelberg 3, de Boer 2, Lloyd 2, Hogan, Hopper, Mumford, Perryman, Ward
Richmond: Baker 2, Bolton 2, Lynch 2, Coleman-Jones, Edwards, M.Rioli, Riewoldt
Greater Western Sydney: Kelly, Taranto, Hopper, Cumming, Whitfield, Haynes
Richmond: Baker, Short, Rioli, Graham, Prestia
Greater Western Sydney: Nil
Richmond: Astbury (quad) replaced in selected side by Garthwaite
Greater Western Sydney: Riccardi (unused)
Richmond: Aarts (unused)