GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 4.3 9.4 15.6 19.11 (125) BRISBANE LIONS 4.2 9.3 12.3 12.8 (80)
Goals: Greater Western Sydney: J Cameron 4 J Patton 3 A Tomlinson 2 A Treloar 2 D Shiel 2 J Hunt L Whitfield N Wilson R Palmer T Scully W Hoskin-Elliott. Brisbane Lions: D Zorko 3 L Taylor 3 J Brown 2 M Close 2 D Gardiner J Green. Best: Greater Western Sydney: Mumford, Whitfield, Tomlinson, Ward, Scully, Cameron. Brisbane Lions: Taylor, Paparone, Redden, Hanley, Brown.
Injuries: Greater Western Sydney: Corr (shoulder) replaced in selected side by Bugg; Kennedy (shoulder) replaced in selected side by Wilson. Brisbane Lions: Merrett (illness) replaced in selected side by Close; Brown (concussion).
Umpires: Mathew Nicholls, David Harris, Andrew Stephens.
Official Crowd: 12,700 at Gabba.
If you want to get a feel for what football might look like in five or six years' time, it helps to watch the occasional game of boys against boys. Sure, the Lions and Greater Western Sydney might be propped up by a sprinkling of veterans. But this battle of the cellar dwellars was dominated by youth. And the kids went alright.
The game was marked, sadly, by another nasty concussion to the most senior player on the ground. Falling backwards from a marking contest, Jonathan Brown's head was met, solidly and certainly accidentally, by Tomas Bugg's hip. Brown staggered from the field; it was the sort of hit of which the champion has taken too many.
It didn't take 20 minutes of testing for Brown to be substituted from the game, and his loss immediately knocked Brisbane, and a fiercely contested game, off balance. Brown had kicked two goals in the first half, and brought the ball to ground for others; his absence robbed the Lions of any semblance of forward structure.
The result was a six-goal third-quarter blitz to set up the Giants' first win away from home in 28 starts, and the consigning of Brisbane back to the basement – separated only by percentage from the Saints on the bottom of the ladder. Lions' coach Justin Leppitsch was left rueing more red-time lapses that helped cost his side the game.
Both sides, however, could take positives from an entertaining and spirited contest. Lewis Taylor has already been nicknamed Squizzy, but The Fly might be more appropriate: he buzzes from contest to contest, giving the Lions much-needed zip around the packs, and this time, he hit the scoreboard.
Marco Paparone again ran tirelessly, and Pearce Hanley has regained the speed that indicates renewed faith in his troublesome hamstrings. Defender Justin Clarke did well on Jeremy Cameron for a half, but his more gifted opponent had the better of him as the Giants climbed over the top of their flagging opponents.
Cameron finished with four goals (and four behinds); Jonathan Patton three, and while they weren't the difference by themselves, the Giants' greater depth of elite young talent became more apparent as the game wore on. Lachie Whitfield, Adam Treloar and the maligned Tom Scully all played up to their high draft billing.
The Giants started like a house on fire; Patton marking on the goal line then curling in the shot inside the second minute of the game. Whitfield launched his spindly frame over two opponents from an awkward angle to mark and set up his team's second, and Shiel was the beneficiary of a brilliant assist by Shane Mumford.
Mumford was the most influential player on the ground, his huge frame mowing his way through every stoppage. Sometimes he put the ball on a silver platter for his on-ball fleet; when he couldn't do that, he did his best to scatter the opposition's. The clearances told the story: 52 to 30 in favour of the Giants.
Still, the Lions hit back as they began to find their range inside the forward 50. Darcy Gardiner was practically mugged by teammates after kicking his first goal at AFL level, and Michael Close, a project tall prospect for the Lions, found the mark with his first two kicks.
The Lions had established a 17-point lead by half-way through the second quarter, but by then the danger signs were apparent: the Giants were winning more of the ball, distributing it better, and had many more players involved in the contest. A few young Lions, James Aish notably, were playing like the season was already too long.
The Giants' six third-quarter goals were followed by a further four in the final stanza, giving them their biggest score and biggest winning margin, as well as their first win interstate.