HOW QUICKLY things can change in season 2020.
Greater Western Sydney started Thursday afternoon's proceedings out of the finals picture, and probably expected to stay there. However, by the end of a hard-fought nine-point victory over Carlton at Metricon Stadium, the club's destiny this season now lies solely in its own hands.
GIANTS v BLUES Full match coverage and stats
But if they'd expected to be playing from behind the eight-ball earlier in the afternoon, who knows what they'd have expected at three-quarter time on Thursday night? Trailing by 15 points, the Giants kicked four unanswered goals to finish the match and secure a stunning 6.12 (48) to 5.9 (39) win.
The victory, in conjunction with Melbourne's shock upset loss to Sydney earlier in the day, catapults GWS into the top-eight.
Its job now is simple - win its remaining three games, and that's where the Giants will stay.
Nick Haynes (21 disposals, eight marks) was the rock down back when the momentum was against GWS throughout the first three quarters. Toby Greene (19 disposals, one goal) was then the catalyst for everything that happened forward of centre when the Giants eventually got the game on their terms.
Together, the pair provided the much-needed spark in a contest that for so long was locked in a stalemate.
With the future of both teams' seasons on the line, the pressure of the situation resulted in an arm-wrestle of an encounter on the field, but it was GWS that held its nerve.
Carlton, on the other hand, wilted in the moment. Another commanding position within a game slipped from its grasp, with any fading ambition of seeing its finals hopes being kept alive now completely gone.
Sam Walsh (23 disposals, one goal) fought valiantly for the Blues, but could do little to stop a similar story from unfolding for his side. Having now been held goalless in four of their last six quarters, David Teague's team will once again be left pondering what could have been.
Christmas comes early for the Giants
What a boost Leon Cameron would have had watching the scenes in Cairns prior to this clash. Melbourne's shock loss to Sydney, which was confirmed just 10 minutes before Greater Western Sydney's game started, ensured a place in the top-eight was suddenly very much up for grabs yet again. But if they were buoyed by that result, they certainly didn't play like it for the first three quarters. Held to just two goals in that time, the Giants eventually broke the shackles to run away with a hard-fought win. The task now is a simple one for Cameron's chargers. Run the table from here, and a top-eight berth is secured.
Inaccuracy nearly costs Giants
They might have had the run of the play, but the Giants couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn door in the first half. Remarkably, they kicked 1.9 to half-time – with one shot that didn't even make the distance. The Blues were on hand to make them pay for their profligacy, kicking goals with four of their first five attempts at the other end. The wastefulness from both sides was on show in a second term where no goals were kicked, as Carlton eventually soared into a 15-point lead at three-quarter time. Fortunately for Leon Cameron's side, they weren't made to rue the missed opportunities. A four-goal final term turned the match on its head, ensuring it was GWS that saw its finals hopes boosted.
It's hard to overlook Haynes
You would be hard pressed to find a more accomplished intercept defender in the game than Nick Haynes right now. Once again, the Giants defender was the barrier that stopped the dam wall from breaking throughout the first three quarters of Thursday night's victory over Carlton. Haynes finished with 21 disposals and eight marks (all of his marks were intercepts) to help ensure the Blues were held goalless for two of the four quarters on the night. Expect a maiden Virgin Australia AFL All-Australian jacket at the end of the season, and perhaps a best and fairest to cap things off.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 1.5 1.9 2.11 6.12 (48)
CARLTON 4.0 4.3 5.8 5.9 (39)
Greater Western Sydney: Riccardi 2, Greene, Finlayson, Perryman, Hill
Carlton: Martin, Dow, Walsh, McKay, Murphy
Greater Western Sydney: Haynes, Greene, Hopper, Ash, Taranto, Perryman
Carlton: Walsh, Weitering, Murphy, Williamson, Martin, McKay
Greater Western Sydney: Nil