GREATER Western Sydney's loss to Sydney on Saturday night has more than likely cost the team a top-four spot, but coach Leon Cameron has backed his players to once again respond to some fresh injury worries.
The Giants looked set for their 10th win from their past 11 matches against the Swans at Spotless Stadium, but with co-captain Phil Davis (hip) unable to continue his role on Lance Franklin, and veteran Ryan Griffen (hamstring) hurt in the third term, the visitors stormed over the top of their crosstown rivals.
Franklin kicked five goals for the night, with four of them coming after Davis was forced from the ground midway through the second quarter after colliding heavily with teammate Rory Lobb in a marking contest.
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It left Davis to play as a forward to help with rotations, and young backman Jeremy Finlayson with the job on Franklin, and the five-time Coleman medallist dominated his opponent.
Cameron said after the loss that his players were disappointed with their fadeout, with Sydney kicking seven goals to two after the main break.
"There's no other way to put it, is it hurting us? Absolutely," he said.
"Phil was brave going out there, he shouldn't have played after half-time, but he's got a big heart.
"Everything was probably working perfectly up until half-time and Jeremy was really influential for us.
"Then all of a sudden something happens, and he's got to go and play against one of the best players we've seen in the past 30 years.
"We probably didn't help him with the way our midfield let the ball come into him, but there's no shame in walking off a ground knowing that Franklin has got a hold of you, because he's probably done it about 200 times before."
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It was only Griffen's second game back after he'd missed three matches with a separate hamstring issue, but Cameron denied the veteran's season, and perhaps career, was in jeopardy after the latest setback.
"That's a raw topic and he'd be sitting there thinking 'has it all come to an end?' but I don't know how bad it is," Cameron said.
"But I'd punt on Ryan Griffen in a final any day of the week, he's a big-game player.
"I know when he's fully fit he can deliver in big games so that’s no issue, he's just got to get his body right."
In some rare good news for the Giants, star defender Zac Williams made a stunning return to footy with 30 possessions and seven tackles in the NEAFL, in his first game of the year after rupturing his Achilles in January.
Cameron said the performance has given him some thinking to do ahead of next week's final regular-season clash against Melbourne at the MCG on Sunday.
"I think the romantic side of it would say we bring him in," he said.
"Is it too early? I'm not sure, I'll probably sleep on it.
"Realistically he probably needs another run in the NEAFL, but footy is a funny game and sometimes you need to be bold."