The overjoyed GWS Giants celebrate their win over lowly Melbourne at Skoda Stadium. Photo: Getty Images
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 5.1 9.3 12.7 19.10 (124)
MELBOURNE 4.3 5.8 9.12 12.15 (87)
GOALS Greater Western Sydney: C Ward 4 J Cameron 4 D Smith 3 J Giles 2 L Whitfield 2 A Tomlinson D Shiel T Adams T Bugg. Melbourne: D Kent 2 J Fitzpatrick 2 J Watts 2 C Pedersen J Howe J Spencer J Trengove M Clisby S Byrnes.
UMPIRES: Stuart Wenn, Ben Ryan, Jordan Bannister.
OFFICIAL CROWD: 8,308 at Skoda Stadium.
They did it. Finally.
Master coach Kevin Sheedy won seven premierships as a player and coach but, after putting his heart and soul into the expansion project into western Sydney over the past four years, the Giants' 37-point win over Melbourne on Saturday might have been as emotional as any of his title wins with Richmond and Essendon.
Callan Ward celebrates a goal. Photo: Anthony Johnson
This was, in many respects, the Giants' 2013 grand final.
After 22 straight losses – some by crushing margins – 364 days since their last win, and looking to avoid becoming the first team since Fitzroy in 1964 to go winless for an entire season, the Giants tasted victory for just the third time since their birth.
They led by four points at the first break, before adding four goals – including a buzzer-beater by ruckman Jonathan Giles – to the Demons' one in the second quarter, to hold a 19-point half-time lead.
Melbourne won the third term, leaving the gap at 13 points and the game seemed set to be a cliffhanger. However, the Giants, determined not to allow these opponents repeat their 12-goal final-term barrage last time they met, sealed the historic win with a stirring seven-goal final quarter.
In front of 8308 fans at Skoda Stadium, star forward Jeremy Cameron kicked four goals to take him within sight of the Coleman Medal and co-captain Callan Ward also kicked four in a best-on-ground performance. Devon Smith kicked three goals, all in the crucial final quarter. No.1 draft pick Lachie Whitfield was outstanding in midfield, and Adam Treloar and Tom Scully were among the highest possession getters. When the final siren went, hands were raised in triumph and a rarely heard team song was played.
The big picture view is that this was a glimpse into a bright future.
On the day, however, it was about the culmination of hundreds of hours of hard work with so little to celebrate.
Melbourne were thumped by 122 points last round and lost key forward Chris Dawes and defender James Frawley to injury, with the gain of defender Colin Garland.
GWS had won three of their past four opening terms and, with three snapped goals at the end of a tight first quarter, led by four.
Jack Fitzpatrick had opened Melbourne's account before midfield pressure earned GWS's responses, through Adam Tomlinson and Cameron.
Jack Watts scored twice midway through the term and Jeremy Howe showed why he is Melbourne's leading goal scorer, slotting one through from the right wing to put the Demons ahead by 13.
But the Giants launched an assault with Taylor Adams, Ward and Giles potting three straight in the final five minutes. Melbourne tried to slow the Giants in the second term but it didn't stem the flow. Curtly Hampton sold a dummy to Jack Trengove and dished off to Whitfield for their first. Ward finished off another length-of-the-field move, before Cameron converted a free kick to make it six in a row for the home side.
Jake Spencer's free kick allowed Melbourne to stop the rot, though it had been an alarming 27 minutes between majors for the Dees. The Giants dealt another late blow when Giles heaved a successful 50-metre slug on the siren.
A three-goal effort to Smith, on top of Cameron's third and fourth – a step, swivel and snap from 55 metres – put the Giants ahead by five goals, before Ward added two late ones to extend the winning margin to 37 points.