GREATER Western Sydney has ended their run of outs at GMHBA Stadium, defeating Geelong by four points on Saturday afternoon.
The Giants overcame a 21-point half-time deficit to record an 11.13 (79) to 11.9 (75) triumph.
GWS, who had never tasted victory at Geelong’s home ground in four previous attempts, kicked seven goals to four after the main break to end the Cats’ undefeated start to the season.
The win was soured by what appeared to be a season-ending knee injury to co-captain Callan Ward.
A week after his seven-goal performance against Richmond, Jeremy Cameron was again influential with three majors among his 15 possessions and eight marks.
Jeremy Finlayson chimed in with three goals, while Harry Himmelberg and Daniel Lloyd contributed two each.
Greater Western Sydney’s midfield was simply superb, with Stephen Coniglio and Jacob Hopper leading the way in the clinches.
Coniglio finished with a stat-line of 34 possessions (16 contested) and 10 clearances, while Hopper gathered 31 disposals (16 contested), five clearances and drove the football inside 50 on nine occasions.
The Giants’ win was built on their ability to dominate on the outside, Leon Cameron’s troops winning the uncontested possession count 251 to 184.
Lachie Whitfield continued his stellar start to 2019 with 31 touches (22 uncontested) at 83.9 per cent efficiency, while Josh Kelly was also impressive with 32 possessions (18 uncontested), eight clearances and seven inside 50s.
Matt de Boer claimed his second big scalp in as many weeks, restricting Tim Kelly to just nine disposals after doing a number on Tigers superstar Dustin Martin last-start.
Mitch Duncan paced Geelong’s midfield with 26 possessions, while emerging star Brandan Parfitt (24) won his fair share of the football.
Gary Ablett was a busy contributor with two goals, 16 disposals and eight score involvements and Tom Stewart provided plenty of bounce out of the back half, finishing with 10 rebound 50s among his 26 touches.
However, with senior players Patrick Dangerfield (18 possessions), Joel Selwood (17) and Sam Menegola (14) down on their usual output the Cats lacked the firepower to get the job done.
Early in proceedings it appeared as if Geelong would romp to their fourth win from as many starts. The home team created eight of the first nine entries inside 50 and produced the opening five scoring shots for a return of 2.3.
The Giants finally got on the board through Finlayson at the 20-minute mark, but Geelong restamped their authority on the contest with long range strikes from Gary Rohan and Tom Hawkins giving them a 21-point lead at quarter-time.
With Hopper and Coniglio wielding their influence at the coalface, Greater Western Sydney controlled territory early in the second term and closed to within eight points.
However, Geelong’s pressure around the contest and a lack of polish at stages from the Giants prevented the visitors from edging closer.
And as was the case in the first term, the Cats kicked away late with majors to Gryan Miers and Hawkins giving them a handy buffer at the main interval.
Geelong extended their advantage to 22 points after the restart before Greater Western Sydney turned the game on its head.
The Giants genuinely believed they could match the Cats in the battle of wills despite being without their spiritual leader in Ward, and with Whitfield and Kelly exercising their immeasurable class on the periphery GWS surged their way back into the contest.
Cameron was proving to be too agile for Harry Taylor, the Coleman medal leader booting two goals in as many minutes to give his side visible evidence that they were well and truly in the hunt.
Geelong were powerless to stop Greater Western Sydney from scoring every time they ventured inside 50 in the third, the men in orange and charcoal finishing with a return of 6.4 from 11 inside 50s, with Daniel Lloyd’s second at the 27-minute mark putting them in front for the first time.
Hawkins – the beneficiary of a holding free kick against Phil Davis – soon gave the edge back to the Cats.
Geelong led by the barest of margins at three-quarter time and delivered the first blow in the last with Rohan slotting his second, before Himmelberg brought back memories of Nick Riewoldt’s courageous grab at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 2009.
Himmelberg passed to Finlayson who put the icing on the cake, snapping a brilliant major from hard against the boundary to make it a tied ball-game.
On top at the stoppages, Greater Western Sydney produced the next four scoring shots but were unable to put Geelong to the sword, all four shots resulting in behinds.
The Cats made a last-ditch attempt to conjure up a match-winning goal through a Stewart kick-out up the corridor, but the Giants held their nerve to hold on for a season-defining win.
GEELONG: 4.3 7.6 10.8 11.9 (75)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY: 1.1 4.3 10.7 11.13 (79)
GEELONG: Hawkins 3, Ablett 2, Rohan 2, Kelly, Miers, Taylor, Dangerfield
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY: Cameron 3, Finlayson 3, Lloyd 2, Himmelberg 2, Buntine
GEELONG: Duncan, Stewart, Parfitt, Hawkins, Ablett
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY: Hopper, Coniglio, Whitfield, Kelly, Cameron, de Boer
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY: Ward (knee)
ATTENDANCE: 28,780 at GMHBA Stadium