GWS are through to their first-ever AFL grand final after they stunned hot favourite Collingwood in a four-point preliminary final thriller at the MCG.
The Giants led by a game-high 33 points early in the final term on Saturday, but had to withstand a stirring late challenge by the Pies, who kicked the last four goals of the match only to fall agonisingly short – 8.8 (56) to 7.10 (52).
If the Magpies had managed to fall over the line, it would have been a controversial win after Josh Thomas was awarded a goal in the last quarter that appeared to be touched off the boot.
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Thomas’ next goal with seven minutes to go in the game sliced the margin to six points and set up a frantic finale with the ball camped out in the Magpies’ front half.
But Nathan Buckley’s men could find a way past the brave Giants, who hung on for the most famous win the club’s eight-season history.
The vast majority of the 77,828 fans in attendance wore black and white and they left the MCG with broken hearts for the second time in two years, following on from last year’s grand final defeat to West Coast.
Star players Toby Greene (suspension) and Lachie Whitfield (appendicitis) were ripped from Leon Cameron’s line-up in the week leading up to the clash, and co-captain Phil Davis (calf) was hobbled early.
But the Giants were simply tougher in the clinches, winning more than their share of ground balls and dominating the territory game in the first three quarters.
The Pies had been desperately disappointing for the most part, but somehow sprang to life after the last change.
They attacked in waves in a way that they hadn’t managed for most of the match, Brodie Grundy leading he way with an incredible 73 hitouts.
But this was a GWS story.
Nick Haynes was superb across half-back with 30 possessions and nine marks, Zac Williams gathered 25 touches with 10 clearances and a goal.
Josh Kelly (27 possessions) and Tim Taranto (26) also made important contributions.
Master tagger Matt De Boer went to Scott Pendlebury and kept the Pies skipper to 18 possessions.