Red-hot Greene kicks winner as Giants ruin Hawkins’ day

Shayne Hope |

Toby Greene (left) kicked the decisive goal as the Giants held on to beat Geelong by four points.
Toby Greene (left) kicked the decisive goal as the Giants held on to beat Geelong by four points.

Greater Western Sydney champion Toby Greene has broken hearts again, gatecrashing Tom Hawkins’ latest milestone match with the decisive goal in a thrilling four-point win over Geelong.

Cats veteran Hawkins surpassed long-time teammate Joel Selwood’s club record for most games played in his 356th appearance.

But it was the Giants who were celebrating at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday night after their 11.12 (78) to 11.8 (74) victory snapped a three-match losing streak.

Geelong trailed by 31 points during the third quarter and rallied at home in front of 30,821 fans, kicking five consecutive goals to hit the front in the final term.

They dominated territory in the last quarter, generating 24 forward entries to five, but couldn’t make it count.

Greene’s brilliant right-foot snap with more than seven minutes remaining and stellar defensive efforts, including two goal-saving marks by Leek Aleer in the dying stages, got the Giants home.

Giants defender Leek Aleer.
Giants defender Leek Aleer took a couple of clutch late marks to hold off Geelong at GMHBA Stadium. (Julian Smith/AAP PHOTOS)

“Of course Toby’s the one who stands up and delivers not just a goal, but an inside-out banana kick from 40m out,” GWS coach Adam Kingsley said.

“It was just incredible.”

The result sent GWS (7-4) back into the top four above their opponents, and condemned fifth-placed Geelong (7-4) to a fourth straight defeat for the first time under dual premiership coach Chris Scott.

But it came at a cost, with experienced midfielder Stephen Coniglio substituted out with a shoulder injury.

“It was a gutsy win from our guys. I thought we showed great character,” Kingsley said.

“We were under the pump in that last quarter … and we just held up.

“It was a really pleasing win that gives us a little bit of a boost going into the bye, and hopefully we learn some lessons and come out the other side a better team.”

Greene shook off an ankle concern after landing awkwardly from a marking contest and finished with two goals from 24 disposals.

Jesse Hogan.
The Giants’ Jesse Hogan took the high road in the clash against Geelong at GMHBA Stadium. (Julian Smith/AAP PHOTOS)

Jake Riccardi (four goals) and Jesse Hogan (two) were also important in attack, while Tom Green racked up 28 touches despite close attention from Mark Blicavs at stoppages.

Connor Idun and Xavier O’Halloran executed roles on Cats stars Jeremy Cameron and Tom Stewart respectively, while Kieren Briggs was influential in the ruck.

Key defender Aleer shone in crucial moments in his seventh senior game.

“I just love when he launches at the ball and goes at it,” Kingsley said.

“He’s going to make mistakes, but particularly those two in the last quarter were just simply outstanding moments in his very early career.

“It suggests what he’s capable of and we need to give him more opportunities to continue to grow.”

Max Holmes (32 disposals, five clearances) and Zach Tuohy (24, six) were strong contributors for Geelong, and Hawkins (two goals) kicked multiple majors for the first time since round four.

Tom Hawkins (left) and Joel Selwood.
Record-breaking Cat Tom Hawkins (left) caught up with former Geelong teammate Joel Selwood. (Julian Smith/AAP PHOTOS)

Tyson Stengle kicked two important goals in a run of five straight to put the Cats back in front in the final quarter.

But Scott lamented a horror period through the middle of the match, when Geelong coughed up six goals to one in the second quarter and the first two majors of the third term.

“For a period there it looked like we were just being so outplayed that it could’ve been a really bad loss,” Scott said.

“The fact that we gave ourselves a chance to win is a positive, but it’s still not enough to make us feel better about the early part in the game.” 

AAP