Greater Western Sydney have won the city’s most bruising and high-stakes AFL derby by 36 points. Now, coach Leon Cameron has grander plans in mind.
GWS were anything but overawed on finals debut, increasing their lead at every break of Saturday’s qualifying final against Sydney at ANZ Stadium.
The expansion side, in their fifth season, are one win away from reaching the grand final after winning 12.19 (91) to 7.13 (55).
The Giants will enjoy a week off before tackling Hawthorn or the Western Bulldogs in a home preliminary final, while the Swans face a SCG knock-out clash next week.
“It’s great – there’s a lot of people in there who have had five or six years of just hardship,” Cameron said, referring to the club’s early struggles.
“Part of my job is to look forward to what’s happening in 14 days … because someone will beat us in the prelim final if we do not come with the same attitude.
“I don’t want to be sitting here in 14 days, saying we got carried away with ourselves. We didn’t prepare.
“Anyone will beat anyone on any given day … I’m sure there are going to be more twists and turns over the coming weeks.”
Cameron admitted his team were in a good spot to push for their first flag after the upset.
“But in no way do you look at it and say we’re in the box seat … you never write off the Hawks; you never write off the Swans,” he added.
Swans stars Josh Kennedy and Kurt Tippett both passed concussion tests after early hits, while hamstrung young gun Callum Mills played no part in the second half.
The undermanned minor premiers rallied and were only two points behind early in the third term, when GWS key forward Jeremy Cameron took control of the pulsating contest.
“There was nothing in it at halftime,” Swans coach John Longmire said.
“Unfortunately, they got hold of us in the second half.
“The good thing is we’ve earned the double chance … we get another crack at it next week.”
Cameron booted three goals in the space of five minutes to give his side a 21-point lead at three-quarter time.
In a low-scoring affair, it was always going to be too big a buffer – much to the dismay of most in the 60,222 crowd.
It is the first time the league’s minor premiers have lost their opening final since West Coast in 2006 – although the Eagles battled back to defeat Sydney in the grand final that year.
The Giants announced themselves as flag contenders long ago but there remained a question of how a side with 16 finals debutants would handle the heat of September.
They started nervously but the answer had come by quarter-time, when GWS held a one-point lead despite conceding the opening two goals of the game.
Steve Johnson finished with 22 possessions and five behinds but delivered arguably the turning point of the match when he tried to run through Kennedy in the first term.
GWS laid 32 more tackles than the Swans, including a jarring sling tackle from Shane Mumford on Tippett.