THE LAST time Greater Western Sydney beat Collingwood at the MCG, a suspended Toby Greene watched that game from the race. On Saturday night, as the Giants again upset the Magpies away from home, Greene was the matchwinner.
The Giants star and stand-in skipper booted five goals to lead his side to its first victory of 2021, a well-drilled, well-executed 30-point pull-apart of a lacklustre Collingwood outfit.
MAGPIES v GIANTS Full match coverage and stats
Greene – a Giants original and the club's heartbeat – was the central figure in the 14.6 (90) to 9.6 (60) surprise victory, seeing the Giants join Collingwood at 1-3 after the first month of the season.
Captaining the visitors in the absence of the injured Stephen Coniglio, Greene took his tally to 13 goals from the first four rounds of the season and backed up his five-goal effort against Melbourne last week as he dominated Magpies youngster Isaac Quaynor before Brayden Maynard was sent his way.
The stakes were in a different stratosphere, but there were similarities to the Giants' famous preliminary final victory of 2019 to the round four win, with the slippery MCG surface and a low-scoring dogfight ensuing.
Collingwood had its moments but its comeback attempt again fell short, with Leon Cameron's men the dominant side. Returning key forward Jeremy Finlayson booted four goals to be instrumental, while former co-captain Callan Ward (36 disposals), Tim Taranto (34) and Jacob Hopper (32) were terrific in the midfield. Young gun Lachie Ash had the best game of his career with 28 disposals.
The Giants were up for the fight early. A goal from Finlayson after the quarter-time siren gave them a six-point lead at the first change, but it was one of only three goals kicked for the term in a defensive display from both clubs.
Genuine warning signs for the Magpies emerged in the second quarter. The Giants played with more flair as Greene booted three goals to capitalise on his side's midfield dominance.
With skipper Scott Pendlebury, vice-captain Taylor Adams, veteran Steele Sidebottom, ruckman Brodie Grundy and the rest of Collingwood's onball unit struggling to make an influence, the Giants jumped to a 17-point lead that was wound back to 10 points by the main change.
Ward, playing under duress with a hand injury suffered in the first term, gathered 15 disposals for the second quarter as youngsters Tom Green and Ash lifted. It was Ash's dash again in the third term as his line-breaking run from half-back set up another goal for Greene, who doubled up to boot his fifth, before the Giants grabbed another through Jake Riccardi to extend their lead to 27 points.
With the game on the line the Magpies rose to the challenge for a period, with Grundy getting more involved and some Josh Daicos magic helping the Pies back to within 15 points at the final break.
The Magpies continue to press and got within 10 points but a controversial free kick for a deliberate rushed behind against Steele Sidebottom was converted by Finlayson before Josh Kelly stepped up with two late goals to seal the result, ease the pressure on his club and at the same time heap it on its opposition.
'Mummy's' big task
Every Brodie Grundy performance comes with an intense focus and the Collingwood ruckman entered the clash with the Giants off his 28-disposal and 54-hitout performance last week against the Bulldogs. The Giants brought back Shane Mumford for the clash and, like he did in their famous preliminary final clash, the robust big man did a good job. Grundy had only four disposals in the first half and although he improved thereafter to finish with 20 and 41 hitouts, Mumford (17 disposals and 17 hitouts) quelled the star Magpie's influence.
Young Giants take their chance
With an injury list that including Coniglio, Lachie Whitfield (liver), Harry Perryman (glandular fever) and Phil Davis (calf), the young Giants had to step up. First-round draft pick Conor Stone was given his debut and collected 11 disposals, while Bobby Hill kicked a slick early goal. Connor Idun and Sam Taylor continue to take strides in defence, while Green also showed his smarts as one of the up-and-coming inside midfielders in the game. Ash, the No.4 pick from the 2019 NAB AFL Draft, was a standout, however, with his confidence growing with every line-breaking run to be a key player. In the least experienced Giants side since 2015, it was a gutsy win.
A goal on (second) debut for new Pie
Collingwood handed Beau McCreery a debut of 2021 proportions in round three, making him the medical sub. He wasn't required to take any part in the game, but was given a start in the Pies' 22 against the Giants. He made a quick one, too, the South Australian draftee booting the Pies' first goal in the opening minutes. The ball looked set to bounce through for a behind before Collingwood's Mason Cox cleverly tapped it back into the play and McCreery swooped with a soccer off the ground. He joined the first kick, first goal club – but is the first to do that in his second game when his first was as a medical substitute. McCreery finished with seven disposals and eight tackles.
COLLINGWOOD 1.2 4.5 7.6 9.6 (60)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 2.2 6.3 10.3 14.6 (90)
Collingwood: De Goey 2, Hoskin-Elliott 2, Daicos, Madgen, McCreery, Mihocek, Thomas
Greater Western Sydney: Greene 5, Finlayson 4, Kelly 2, Hill, Himmelberg, Riccardi
Collingwood: Sidebottom, Crisp, Madgen, Howe, Daicos
Greater Western Sydney: Greene, Ward, Finlayson, Taranto, Ash, Hopper
Collingwood: Adams (knee), Sier (illness)
Greater Western Sydney: Ward (hand)
Collingwood: Greenwood (replaced Sier)
Greater Western Sydney: Shipley (unused)
29,866 at MCG