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Season review: GWS

Who's up for grabs at the Giants Matthew Lloyd and Damian Barrett on the highs and lows of the Giants' 2016 season
PERTH, AUSTRALIA - MAY 7: Stephen Coniglio of the Giants looks to pass the ball during the 2016 AFL Round 07 match between the Fremantle Dockers and the GWS Giants at Domain Stadium, Perth on May 7, 2016. (Photo by Will Russell/AFL Media)
Stephen Coniglio had an outstanding year in the midfield

In a nutshell
A major step forward in the history of the Giants, winning 16 regular season games and earning themselves their first finals berth. Add the experience of a finals win, and the future looks frightening for opposition clubs.

What we said in the pre-season 
As predicted GWS jumped up the ladder to grab themselves a top-four finish, which they turned into an outstanding win over the Sydney Swans. Steve Johnson kicked 43 goals to be a massive pick-up, although it ended badly for the veteran with a crucial suspension. Josh Kelly, Rory Lobb, Nick Haynes, Zac Williams and Nathan Wilson turned in breakout seasons.

What worked
A pre-season focus on improving their contested ball work and tackling pressure did wonders for the Giants, and it was on show when they smashed the Swans on the big stage. The addition of Johnson helped the GWS forward line immensely, with Lobb, Jonathon Patton and Toby Greene all churning out career-best numbers.

What failed
The club stood firm on the demands of disgruntled forward Cam McCarthy, but history will show that the talented Perth boy didn't return to the Giants after Christmas, and will be let go during this year's trade period. GWS made a stand, and while it didn't work, it sent a clear message.

Overall rating
A. The Giants achieved plenty of firsts in 2016, and falling one goal short of a Grand Final was a huge effort.

The coach
Leon Cameron guided his young side to 17 wins, including a final, and his hard work over the pre-season was handsomely rewarded, with the Giants now a hard-nosed, contested footy side. His use of Johnson was superb, as was his always positive attitude in and when dealing with the media. Signed up until the end of 2018.

The leaders
Co-captains Callan Ward and Phil Davis led the Giants superbly this season, with Ward his usual aggressive best in the midfield, and Davis a rock in defence. Emerging leaders Stephen Coniglio and Dylan Shiel, along with veterans Heath Shaw, Shane Mumford and Johnson were also top shelf.

Stephen Coniglio. The West Australian missed the opening game of the year but still set a new record for disposals at the club during the regular season, and finished the year with 644 touches at an average of 28 per game.

Surprise packet
Rory Lobb. His decision to return early for pre-season reaped amazing rewards, with the big man kicking 29 goals from 24 games, and taking the second most contested marks in the league.

Get excited
Jacob Hopper. The 19-year-old had 32 possessions on debut, and while a back injury limited his impact in the second half of the season, the kid is a star.

Will Hoskin-Elliott. Another season of tease from the gifted forward, who took a mark of the year contender in round two, but didn't manage another senior game. Likely out the door via the trade period.

The finals win over the Swans was the Giants' highlight. Picture: AFL Photos

Best win
Qualifying final: Greater Western Sydney 12.19 (91) d Sydney Swans 7.13 (55) at ANZ Stadium
The Giants blew any finals nerves out the window in a brutal encounter, and after absorbing everything the Swans had, ran away with the game in the second half.

Low point
Johnson's suspension as a result of an incident in the qualifying final cost the Giants badly in their preliminary final loss to the Western Bulldogs. Lets hope it's not the champ's last hurrah.

The big questions
Will Stevie J go on?
No doubt has the ability to be a match-winner, but list management and his own desire will be huge factors.

How many players will exit during the trade period?
McCarthy and Caleb Marchbank are already gone, while Lobb, Hoskin-Elliott, James Stewart and Adam Tomlinson will be hotly pursued.

Season in a song
I Hear You Knocking
Dave Edmunds' Rockpile

What we say: The window has been belted out with a sledgehammer.

Who's done? 
Retirements: Nil
Delistings: Nil
Unsigned free agents: Nil

How should they approach trade and draft period?
The Giants will be big players at the trade table again as they look for points for their Academy talent, and satisfy their list and salary needs with their concessions gone for next year.

Early call for 2017
The Giants are already premiership favourites, you would think, and if they can maintain their ruthless attitude and winning culture, they'll take some stopping.