Giants smash Blues with 16 men
IF GREATER Western Sydney wins a premiership it will be a triumph over adversity rather than the cakewalk we all expected.
A team supposed to break over the competition like a tsunami instead keeps breaking apart at the seams.
Twice they have been denied in preliminary finals due in some part by concussion to star midfielders.
On Sunday, a walk into the park turned into an afternoon of injury carnage.
In the space of 15 minutes in the third quarter of an otherwise easy win over Carlton, Leon Cameron lost his entire bench of players.
And potentially, if those injuries linger, his road to that elusive premiership became littered with potholes again.
By halfway through the third quarter all of Brett Deledio, Sam Taylor, Toby Greene and Dawson Simpson were done for the day.
The ultimate indictment of this one-sided 105-point victory - in the final term GWS still ran away from Carlton despite playing with just 16 and 17 players to massage tired legs.
GWS had done as it pleased in the first half at Etihad, topping and tailing the first half with goals of ridiculous ease.
Carlton fans could only watch the game through gritted teeth and with fingers over their eyes.
At least that way they could enjoy Harry McKay's three-goal first half while ignoring the dozen Blues with four possessions or fewer.
Then the story became all about the men in orange dropping like flies.
First the cameras focused on Deledio applying ice to his troublesome left calf, with youngster Taylor applying ice to his left hamstring beside him.
Then Greene ran to the bench for a vigorous hamstring massage before he was shut down for the day.
Just as that decision was made the trainers were sprinting out to ruck revelation Simpson, slumped in the centre square with a left ankle injury.
None of those injuries would seem serious enough to eliminate the players from finals contention.
But at a time when clubs should be massing their forces their forces for a finals run, the Giants were again hobbling.
Time will tell how debilitating that injury toll is, because at full strength the Giants again look a sight to behold.
McKay's first half, when he should have kicked five goals from just 18 inside-50s by the Blues, was seriously exciting.
He kicked long bombs from 50, dribbled a left-foot goal after baulking opponents and shanked two sitters he could have kicked in his sleep.
Apart from that, it was a trainwreck.
For GWS to kick seven last-term goals despite playing one or two men short should live long in the memory of the Carlton players.
Too few Blues pushed themselves to exhaustion, too few put up a fight even when they had two extra men on the field.
Without Tim Taranto, Dylan Shiel and Ryan Griffen the Giants still displayed their awesome firepower against a hapless Carlton side.
Josh Kelly did as he pleased with a complete game, Callan Ward went head-to-head with Patrick Cripps and Jeremy Cameron seamlessly slotted back into the front six.
Adam Kennedy was tough and prolific with two early goals, while last year's No. 11 selection Aiden Bonar (two goals) was excellent in his first AFL game after two knee recos as a junior.