GREATER Western Sydney has dismissed speculation it planned Nick Haynes' controversial coin toss on Friday night, following a pre-match incident that Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge described as "peculiar" and "strange".
Haynes bizarrely took the coin toss in place of Giants skipper Stephen Coniglio prior to his side's 24-point defeat at Marvel Stadium, coming face-to-face with Bulldogs captain Marcus Bontempelli when he did so.
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It came after Bontempelli fractured Haynes' larynx late last year in an incident that left the Giants seething, with the star Dogs midfielder not suspended for the bump after the Match Review made their decision without seeing a medical report.
Haynes missed two weeks due to the blow, with the pair later meeting in the 2019 elimination final where the Giants physically targeted Bontempelli and restricted him to just 13 disposals.
"The Haynes thing … it was peculiar," Beveridge said after the match.
"I wasn't sure if he had a milestone. If he didn't, it was strange."
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The incident left the Giants open to suggestions they had planned for Haynes to confront Bontempelli at the coin toss, though coach Leon Cameron brushed it off as a split-second decision as Stephen Coniglio gave his pre-match address to the playing group.
"We give a lot of opportunities to our leadership group," Cameron said.
"I think 'Cogs' was addressing the group, so he sent Nick in. I think it's a great opportunity to show some leadership in all different facets.
"I've got more problems than worrying about who tosses the coin, like nutting down and making sure our contested ball is right and our ball movement is right."
The coin toss laid the groundwork for a fiery encounter between the two modern rivals, which escalated when Giants tagger Matt de Boer attempted to physically unsettle Bontempelli prior to the game's opening bounce.
A number of Dogs players remonstrated with de Boer's actions throughout the night, leading to a series of fracas that reached a climax during a three-quarter time melee as Bontempelli finished with 16 disposals and five tackles.
Speaking after his side's gritty victory, Beveridge said Bontempelli's teammates were aware that they needed to do more to protect their skipper following last year's disappointing finals exit at the hands of the Giants.
"I don't think I needed to speak about it much," Beveridge said.
"The boys felt like they let him down last year. They wanted to make amends.
"There's a handful in the team that didn't play in that game, so they were proactive and we'll need to be every week.
"There's articles written in the paper saying 'if Marcus can deal with a tag…' He's dealt with a tag for most of his footy career and he's won three best and fairests. He's got the runs on the board, he doesn't need to prove anything to us.
"Tonight will do him the world of good. He's built himself up, he's felt the pressure, but all the while he's been vocal and he's been looking for answers and solutions. That's what great leaders do."
The spiteful opening to the match continued when Coniglio gave away an undisciplined 50m penalty for pushing Bontempelli off the ball in an incident that led to the game's first goal.
The Giants ultimately conceded 10 more free kicks than the Bulldogs across the course of the match, having also given away 12 more free kicks in last week's loss to North Melbourne.
"We'll look at that," Cameron said.
"The game is an emotional game. The intensity of the game, the rivalry … if we've given away too many silly free kicks, we'll address it.
"But equally, you also want to play the game in the right manner and in the right spirit and that's a fine line that every player from every club runs. We'll address it like a number of other areas.
"If it makes us a better team because we might have overstepped the mark, then absolutely we'll address it."