GWS captain Stephen Coniglio predicted the AFL’s most resilient team will win this unprecedented season and on Saturday night he started work on claiming that title, setting up a clinical 32-point win over Geelong.
Defender Adam Kennedy tweaked his right hamstring in the opening quarter and played no further part in the contest, but Coniglio helped the undermanned hosts rally at Giants Stadium.
Coniglio booted two opening-half goals and finished up with 19 disposals in his first game as skipper and GWS triumphed 17.3 (105) to 11.7 (73).
Toby Greene and Harry Perryman each contributed a game-high four goals and created plenty of others as the Giants responded to every challenge in style.
Greene (16 possessions) spent some time on the ball and lifted in the premiership quarter to help his team bust the contest open, while intercept king Nick Haynes was typically busy for GWS.
Round one is far too early to make any bold predictions, let alone a competition that could soon be placed on hiatus and drag on long beyond September because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but there were plenty of promising signs from the expansion club.
At times it was easy to forget last year’s grand finalists were playing without injured stars Tim Taranto, Zac Williams and Callan Ward, let alone the fact they were a man down on the bench.
Mitch Duncan was sensational for the visitors and Gary Ablett had a game-high 24 possessions, but the Cats couldn’t match the Giants’ goal-kick accuracy nor intensity across the four quarters.
GWS’s quest for grand-final redemption got off to a cracking start when Daniel Lloyd slotted two goals in two minutes.
With seven minutes remaining in the opening term, GWS had already opened up a 17-point lead by kicking more goals than they managed in the entire 2019 grand final.
The Cats steadied with a sensational one-step effort from Patrick Dangerfield, who split the middle from the cusp of the 50m arc.
The visitors trimmed GWS’s lead to four points late in the first quarter then early in the second term, but that was as close as they came to hitting the front.
© AAP 2020
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 5.0 9.1 13.3 17.3 (105)
GEELONG 4.2 6.6 8.7 11.7 (73)
Goals: Greater Western Sydney: H Perryman 4 T Greene 4 J Cameron 3 D Lloyd 2 S Coniglio 2 J Finlayson Z Langdon. Geelong: M Duncan 3 T Hawkins 2 G Ablett G Miers G Rohan L Dahlhaus M O’Connor P Dangerfield.
Umpires: Jacob Mollison, Nicholas Foot, Justin Power.
Venue: Giants Stadium.