The GWS Giants have caused one of the biggest upsets of the season to beat Adelaide by 14 points on their home deck.
The 10.11 (71) to 8.9 (57) victory silenced the Adelaide Oval crowd on Saturday night to keep the Giants’ finals hopes alive in stunning scenes.
The visitors had only managed five goals to three quarter time, but kicked five goals to none in the final term to overrun the Crows.
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While it was jubilation for GWS, Adelaide’s season is now on the ropes.
Already struggling to secure the four points away from Adelaide Oval, the Crows are now a game outside the top eight.
QUARTER-BY-QUARTER MATCH REPORT
The Giants were forced to make two late changes. Star midfielders Finn Callaghan and Tom Green were late withdrawals, with Jacob Wehr and Aaron Cadman coming into the side. Josh Fahey was named the Giants’ sub, while Ned McHenry was the sub for the Crows, who made no late changes.
Milestone man Rory Sloane in game 250 had the first kick out of the middle, after touching scenes pre-game running through the banner with his kids.
And in less than 50 seconds, the Crows were on the board through Rory Laird.
Jesse Hogan got the Giants’ first as the visitors found their feet to respond with better pressure around the ground.
Crows skipper Jordan Dawson was unlucky not to have a shot on goal when he had Giant Callan Ward caught cold, but it didn’t matter moments later when Taylor Walker got out the back and snapped truly from 25m.
When no one went to Toby Greene outside the arc, the Giants skipper took off and put his side in front.
But the visitors “blew some opportunities” late in the first term, Gerard Healy lamented, with a couple of misses.
Darcy Fogarty had two quick misses down the other end before Josh Rachele cashed in on a Giants’ turnover kicking in.
Crows big man Riley Thilthorpe then gave his side the lead after the quarter time siren, 27-22.
Walker wound back the clock to take a big contested grab early in the second term and bring up goal number 50 for the season.
The Giants suffered a blow when Hogan left the field clutching at his back.
“That’s a problem, you’ve got (No.1 draftee Aaron) Cadman and (Jake) Riccardi as the key forwards – they are just young kids,” commentator Cam Mooney lamented of GWS’ attack end without Hogan.
Luckily the key forward was able to return to the contest a short time later.
Tensions threatened to spill over when Josh Rachele wasn’t happy with the treatment he copped from Giant Harry Perryman.
Rachele copped late contact moments later and then lost his cool as he went after Perryman.
After throwing the Giant to the ground, he was reported for striking when he threw at elbow out at the next Giant to come at him.
Coach Matthew Nicks was left with no choice but to bring his youngster to the bench for a moment to cool off.
By half time, it was Adelaide leading 41-24.
Toby Bedford and Stephen Coniglio had chances to bring the Giants within striking distance but both missed their opportunities.
It took skipper Toby Greene to bring his side within nine points as he “slipped under the arm” to nail his second for the match.
“Got the goal they desperately needed for their dominance,” Mooney praised.
Rachele again walked a tight line when he dropped an arm into the neck of Giant Jacob Wehr.
Rookie Aaron Cadman got a kind bounce and nailed the Giants’ fifth goal to close to within three points.
But when he coughed the footy up with a soft turnover at half back, the Crows made the most of it as Jordan Dawson hit up Shane McAdam with pinpoint precision.
“They were given a gift,” commentator Gerard Healy said.
“You just can’t have short kicks going back inside 50, turning over to the opposition,” Mooney added.
Just as the Crows were getting on top, they lost Rory Laird as he came from the field clutching his shoulder.
At three quarter time, it was Adelaide up 56-39.
GWS found another gear in the final term as Greene sparked the fightback.
Josh Kelly shrugged his Ben Keays tag to get forward and bring his side within three points before Harry Himmelberg put the visitors in front – with Crows coach Matthew Nicks left stunned in the box.
When Josh Fahey – who came on as the sub in the final term – dribbled a goal through, the Giants were almost home.
Keays had Rachele wide open inside 50 and missed him – instead putting it out on the full with just three minutes remaining.
And that would be Adelaide’s last roll of the dice as the Giants got home by 14 points in a stunning upset win.
3. GWS SEND ‘STATEMENT’ TO RIVALS WITH STUNNING VICTORY
The Giants had kicked just five goals for the match heading into the final term.
They found another gear to kick five goals to none in the last quarter to seal a massive away win and jump above the Crows on the ladder – keeping their finals’ hopes alive.
Adam Kingsley’s men have now won five games on the trot in stunning scenes.
“This team over the last four to five weeks, if you haven’t been watching this team, you’ve been missing out on something special,” Fox Footy’s Cameron Mooney praised.
“I think you’re finding out this is a serious team.
“Tip your hat to Adam Kingsley with what he’s done with this team.
“They were ordinary (in 2022).
“Adam Kingsley has this team humming at the moment.”
Commentator Dwayne Russell labelled it “one of the great all-time wins” for the club.
“They’re hunting a spot in the top eight and telling the rest of the comp, don’t forget about us,” he said.
Fox Footy’s Gerard Healy was left in awe by what the Giants were able to accomplish away from home – particularly their backline.
“It’s an amazing win this one… all their guns played really well. They lifted when they needed to,” he said.
“Stephen Coniglio’s last quarter was superb. Riccardi, who hadn’t had a big game, had a really big moment on the forward flank when the game was still in dispute. He worked to about three contests in a row.
“But you can’t go away from how well their backline played. The ball came in and so often they launched attacks from the halfback line and the fullback line. Withstood enormous pressure in the third quarter to give them a chance at three-quarter-time.
“Five goals to none, against the Crows at home with finals on the line is extraordinary.”
Mooney agreed that it was GWS’ rock solid backline helping them to five-straight wins.
“Adam Kingsley just has this team cherry ripe at the moment. Their defence has been the number one in the competition over the last month or so,” he praised.
The Giants now sit just percentage outside of the top eight.
2. ‘RUFFLED’ RACHELE FORCED TO COOL HIS HEELS
Young Crow Josh Rachele lost his cool and was reported in a fiery second term.
He was probably lucky not to be reported twice, when he dropped an arm into Giant Jacob Wehr in the third term.
But when dragged in the second term to “cool his heels”, it was captain Jordan Dawson who was alongside the young gun making sure he was OK in a touching moment.
“Rachele is in some trouble,” commentator Gerard Healy said.
“He lost his cool, overreacted the first time and then overreacted the second time.”
GWS came with a plan to target Rachele from the opening bounce, and the youngster’s feathers were certainly “ruffled” in a heated few minutes late in the second term.
It started with Giant Harry Perryman appearing to rough up the Crow while he was pinned on the ground.
Rachele got up angered by the attention and went on with it.
Moments later it was Perryman again who caught Rachele high – but this time the forward went after his opponent.
He dragged Perryman to the ground in a scrap and then swung an elbow at Giant Jack Buckley who came in to remonstrate.
It was that elbow that saw Rachele reported for striking.
“(Perryman) ruffled a few feathers, a bit of a scrap,” Fox Footy’s Cameron Mooney said.
“(Rachele) cops one high off Perryman again so he chases him down the track and says ‘you know what? I didn’t enjoy that’.
“Throws him to ground. You think, that’s OK nothing in there. But this is the one… bang. Not a huge hit.
“Great to see Dawson the captain there going, ‘just settle down, can’t afford to not have you play for us next week’.”
But the message didn’t seem to get through when Rachele collected Wehr while he was on the ground.
“He’s desperate for a week off Josh Rachele,” Healy lamented.
“He’s asking for the umpires to give him a spell next week.”
Dwayne Russell said Rachele was “walking the line”.
“Rachele has got to be careful … needs to keep a cool head there,” Mark Ricciuto added.
“You don’t want to get reported twice in a game either,” Mooney said.
Adelaide next face Melbourne at the MCG in a game Rachele won’t want to miss.
1. THE GIANT WHO HAS ‘MADE A MESS’ OF ADELAIDE
Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks conceded he needed a plan to stop Giant Josh Kelly.
After a quiet performance last week thanks to a hard tag against Hawthorn, the Giants mid was desperate to put in a better show.
And he started with a bang against the Crows as he took Chayce Jones to task.
After setting up early goals, Fox Footy’s Cameron Mooney said Kelly was once again proving “a problem” for Adelaide.
“That’s why you can’t let Kelly off the chain,” Mooney said.
“There was a blueprint last week, you have got to run with him, run tight with him or he will hurt you.
“We saw what happened with Melbourne up the top there where he destroyed them.”
Jones coughed up two free kicks in the opening term to Kelly as he tried to keep him illegally out of the contest.
“When you don’t have a genuine tagger now playing this role, they can give away free kicks…. That’s the second free kick now to Kelly,” Mooney lamented.
So Nicks made the move, shifting Ben Keays into a lockdown role, sacrificing his own game.
And the shift paid off as Keays “shut him down” for two quarters.
By half time, Kelly had 16 touches – 12 of those contested, six clearances and three tackles.
“He (Keays) was accountable to him – he was awesome in there,” Crow Reilly O’Brien said at half time.
“(We’re) looking to keep that up in the second half.”
Nicks himself said it was a priority to shut down Kelly.
“He’s super important to them,” he told Fox Footy.
“He’s made a mess of us the last couple of times we’ve gone against them.”
But when the match went on the line in the last term, it was Josh Kelly who stepped up to deliver for his side.
He finished with 28 disposals – a whopping 21 of them contested, nine clearances, six tackles and a big last quarter goal.
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