Jesse Hogan marked his third coming as an AFL player in style, as Greater Western Sydney issued a reminder they should not be left out of the September discussion.
Returning to the venue where their 2020 campaign unravelled, Leon Cameron’s remoulded team gave a timid Adelaide a lesson in contested football, silencing a partisan crowd with a 67-point victory – 15.16 (106) to 4.15 (39).
Jesse Hogan starred in his first match as a Giant.Credit:Getty
Winless and with a host of key players injured, the Giants were reeling after three rounds but a month later they are back in the hunt.
The club may not have invested as heavily in youth as their crosstown rivals the Swans but their new breed have breathed life into a side that only a few weeks ago appeared headed for a steep slide.
Lachie Ash and Tom Green are emerging as 10-year players in the orange but it’s a one time boom forward in the last chance saloon who may have the biggest say on whether the Giants return to the finals.
Hogan, the 2015 Rising Star Award winner, booted four goals on debut for his third club but the Giants hierarchy will be just as pleased by the way he created space for himself and his teammates.
If Hogan, who has overcome a series of injuries and personal issues to revive his career, plays with the same energy and endeavour as he showed on Saturday, the club will have well and truly got their money’s worth for giving up pick 54.
Hogan was the icing on the cake for the Giants, whose comprehensive win was built on their preparedness to roll up their sleeves and put their shoulders to the wheel.
They bashed the Crows at the contest, winning the clearances 41-17 in what Adelaide great Mark Ricciuto described as one of the best clearance performances he had seen this year.
Stand-in skipper Toby Greene has been integral to his club’s revival but on this occasion it was Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper, both part of the second wave of Giants, who were central to the dismantling of the Crows.
Lachie Whitfield, in his first game back from a liver injury, cut up the Crows with his incisive run and kicking while Josh Kelly is edging closer to the form he showed in his coming of age season in 2017.
There is more improvement to come, at least on paper, with Stephen Coniglio, Phil Davis, Matt de Boer and Nick Haynes all to return to the 22.
Western Bulldogs great Brad Johnson said the Giants deserve to be considered finals contenders.
“It’s a build as this year goes on,” Johnson said on Fox Footy. “If they were to come up now against the Saints, Freo or Essendon they take the points.”
After an encouraging first month, the Crows have hit the skids. They kicked the opening goal of the game within seconds of the first bounce did not give a shout thereafter.
They were outmuscled inside and run off their legs once the ball was in the open by a far hungrier side. A week of soul searching looms in the build up to next weekend’s Showdown.
Adelaide 1.1 2.4 3.9 4.15 (39)
GWS 1.8 6.12 10.14 15.16 (106)
Adelaide: Walker 2, Murray, Murphy
GWS: Hogan 4, Himmelberg 3, Green 2, Reid, 2, Greene, Hill, Kelly, O’Halloran
Adelaide: Keays, Seedsman, Laird.
GWS: Taranto, Hopper, Whitfield, Kelly, Hogan, Greene, Taylor, Mumford.
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