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GREATER Western Sydney has overcome the absence of six representative stars to easily account for Sydney in their opening match of the Marsh Community Series, but the club is most concerned about a serious injury to club champion Tim Taranto.
The Giants lost star midfielder Taranto early in the opening term with a dislocated right shoulder and will be anxiously awaiting scans to see just how much footy he will miss.
With the season opener just three weeks away, the 22-year-old appears to be little chance of facing Geelong at home and could be out of action for a more significant amount of time if he requires surgery.
Taranto blossomed in the absence of injured midfielders Callan Ward, Stephen Coniglio, Josh Kelly and Matt de Boer last season, winning the best and fairest after averaging 27.7 disposals, 6.3 tackles and 5.3 clearances without missing a match.
Despite Taranto's painful exit, and being without Coniglio, Kelly, Lachie Whitfield, Jeremy Cameron, Toby Greene and Nick Haynes, who played in Friday's bushfire charity match, the Giants were too powerful for the Swans and set up their 19.7 (121) to 3.9 (27) win at Blacktown with a run of 15 consecutive goals after the first break.
GIANTS CRUSH SWANS Full match coverage
After a nightmare 2019 with injury, small forward Zac Langdon showed why he's so highly valued by the Giants with five goals, while inside bull Jacob Hopper was prolific.
Young onballer Jackson Hately is set to build on his seven-game debut season if his four-quarter effort is anything to go by, and the first outings of top-10 draft picks Lachie Ash and Tom Green were also impressive.
The Swans struggled to find an avenue to goal with tall targets Lance Franklin (knee) and Sam Reid (calf), plus the energetic Tom Papley (Victoria) out of the side, with Nick Blakey, Tom McCartin and Callum Sinclair finding it tough against first-choice Giants defenders Phil Davis, Sam Taylor and Aidan Corr.
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Speedy midfielder Oliver Florent was a tireless worker for the Swans alongside co-captains Luke Parker and Josh Kennedy, while Sydney would be encouraged by the solid return of injury-prone ruckman Sam Naismith.
The Swans should get valuable defenders Jake Lloyd and Callum Mills back from the bushfire match for their final clash of the series against North Melbourne next week.
Greater Western Sydney: Lachie Ash made a seamless transition to senior footy and impressed with his quality use of the footy off half-back, while Tom Green got better as the match went on, especially with his use of hands in tight. Kieren Briggs showed off his mobility forward and in the ruck and he combined well with veteran recruit Sam Jacobs, who had a strong influence around the ground.
Sydney: Will Gould's physicality was outstanding in defence, while Dylan Stephens and Chad Warner showed glimpses of their talent through the midfield on a tough day for the Swans. Recruits Kaiden Brand, Sam Gray and Lewis Taylor were handy without being dominant and could all play a part in the Swans' best team this year.
Lachie Ash (DEF/MID, $264,000) is no doubt ready for senior action early in the season and has no issue finding the footy playing in defence, showing plenty of dash.
Oliver Florent (MID, $514,000) took some huge strides in his development last season playing on a wing and looks set to take on more responsibility in 2020 playing more as an inside midfielder.
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The Giants travel to Wagga Wagga for a Grand Final rematch against Richmond on Sunday, March 8, while the Swans are also on the road when they take on North Melbourne in Tasmania the following day.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 3.2 9.2 13.5 19.7 (121)
SYDNEY 2.0 2.4 2.6 3.9 (27)
Giants: Langdon 5, Hill 2, Himmelberg 2, Finlayson 2, Green 2, Hopper, Caldwell, de Boer, Hately, Kennedy, O'Halloran
Sydney: Hayward, Parker, Blakey
Giants: Langdon, Hopper, Hately, Kennedy, Ash, de Boer, Green
Sydney: Florent, Parker, Dawson, Gray, Cunningham
Giants: Tim Taranto (shoulder)
Sydney: Robbie Fox (ankle)
Umpires: Donlon, O'Gorman, Chamberlain, Wallace
Official crowd: 2022 at Blacktown International Sportspark