Giants Stephen Coniglio celebrates kicking a goal with Harry Himmelberg during AFL match between the GWS Giants and Essendon at Giants Stadium. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Giants Stephen Coniglio celebrates kicking a goal with Harry Himmelberg during AFL match between the GWS Giants and Essendon at Giants Stadium. Picture. Phil Hillyard

Giants make Smith eat his words

Ex-Giant Devon Smith found out what it's like to be buried alive at 'The Graveyard', as GWS marked their territory for 2019 with a brutal decimation of Essendon.

GWS christened the newly titled Giants Stadium with the most rampant performance of the AFL's opening round, but the 16-goal demolition job on the listless Bombers suggests Smith's cocky pre-game sledge might be the nickname that really sticks out west.

Fired-up by Smith's sarcastic 'Graveyard' dig at the GWS supporter base, senior stars Jeremy Cameron and Stephen Coniglio made their former teammate eat his words and announced the Giants as premiership heavyweights in front of a buoyant crowd of 15,424.

Cameron booted four goals and Coniglio three in the 72-point rout, and perhaps the most ominous warning sign for the rest of the competition was the fact GWS still have midfield aces Josh Kelly and Callan Ward to return.

 

The Giants run through their banner before burying the Bombers. Pic: AAP
The Giants run through their banner before burying the Bombers. Pic: AAP

 

GWS signalled their intentions early to kick the first five goals straight.

And when Essendon tried to lay a platform for a comeback by kicking two on the trot in the second quarter, GWS responded with an emphatic five-goal run which left Essendon KO'd on the canvas, and only two late consolation goals saved them from further embarrassment as the Giants ran-out 112-40 winners.

 

Former Giant Devon Smith had a tough day. Pic: Getty Images
Former Giant Devon Smith had a tough day. Pic: Getty Images

 

Smith finished with 21 disposals against the side he felt shafted him all those years ago, but Essendon's 2018 best and fairest was virtually silenced, as was the other prominent ex-Giant, Dylan Shiel, who missed an early chance to help the Bombers set the ascendancy for the match.

GWS lost Harry Perryman with a suspected shoulder injury following a heavy collision in the second term, but otherwise it was all one-way traffic.

 

Toby Greene and Tim Taranto celebrate another Giants goal. Pic: Getty Images
Toby Greene and Tim Taranto celebrate another Giants goal. Pic: Getty Images

 

The Giants started slowly last year to the point they almost ruled themselves out of finals' contention before the halfway point of the season - and it was a 35-point loss to the Bombers that stung-them out of a slump.

However, Sunday's masterclass suggests GWS have rediscovered their mojo and the club doesn't appear to have broken a sweatin replacing key midfielders Shiel and Tom Scully.

 

Jeremy Cameron lands a long bomb on half time. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Jeremy Cameron lands a long bomb on half time. Picture. Phil Hillyard

 

WELCOME BACK, JEZZA

On a day where it was raining goals long before a thunderstorm rolled in to cool the searing 31 degree temperatures, it was Jeremy Cameron's bomb from 55 metres out on the stroke of halftime that best summed up the day.

Cameron struggled with discipline and injury issues last season, but his laser-like kicking and dominant presence up front was a reminder of why he is one of the AFL's best.

The big man is a player that the Giants gravitate around and when he's firing GWS seem to come with him.

 

Lachie Keeffe is mobbed after booting one of his three goals. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Lachie Keeffe is mobbed after booting one of his three goals. Picture. Phil Hillyard

 

KEEFFE GOES DOWN ... THEN SURPRISES

Giants' three-goal hero Lachlan Keeffe's afternoon appeared over when he hobbled off in the first quarter with a seemingly serious knee injury.

Keeffe's knee had buckled badly in a contest and he headed straight to the rooms.

But the Giants key-defender returned soon after and almost immediately hit the scoreboard with a stirring goal which prompted a raucous celebration.

Two more goals followed in a brilliant individual performance, defined by his toughness to return.

 

Zac Williams showed his athleticism for GWS. Pic: Getty Images
Zac Williams showed his athleticism for GWS. Pic: Getty Images

 

WILLIAMS THE MAGIC MAN

It was cast into the background of the goal-spree, but Zac Williams' came up with one of the most athletic moments of the opening round.

The mercurial half-back shut down a potential Bombers rush by diving on the ball, only to roll to his feet almost in the same movement and clear the ball downfield.

Cameron kicked a goal moments later, but it was all down to the freakish Williams' ability to turn defence into attack.

 

Dylan Shiel’s return to Giants Stadium was not a happy one. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Dylan Shiel’s return to Giants Stadium was not a happy one. Picture. Phil Hillyard

 

 

GWS 3.2 7.8 10.13 16.16 (112)

ESSENDON 0.4 2.5 3.8 5.10 (40)

Goals: GWS: J Cameron 4L Keeffe 3 S Coniglio 3 D Lloyd 2 T Taranto 2 H Himmelberg T Greene. Essendon: K Langford 2 A Francis J Stringer M Baguley.

Best: GWS: Coniglio, Cameron, Taranto, Keeffe, Whitfield, Himmelberg

Essendon: Shiel, Saad, Heppell, Zaharakis

Umpires: Dean Margetts, Andrew Mitchell, Leigh Fisher.

Official Crowd: 15,424 at Giants Stadium

BEN HORNE'S VOTES:

3 - Stephen Coniglio (GWS)

2 - Jeremy Cameron (GWS)

1 - Tim Taranto (GWS)

News Corp Australia


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