The little things added up to a lot as GWS were consumed by misery rather than pride at the end of their best ever AFL season.
While the Bulldogs were no strangers to big-game heartache, especially in preliminary finals, the Giants experienced a new type of misery in Saturday’s six-point defeat at Spotless Satdium.
Thumped by massive margins on plenty of occasions in their first two seasons, the Giants hadn’t experienced defeat in such a significant game, having won their only previous finals match against cross-town rival Sydney two weeks ago.
A grand final appearance loomed tantalisingly close when they led by 14 points early in the final quarter, before the Bulldogs kicked four of the last five goals.
“I guess you understand how much the little things mean in games like that,” said Giants’ forward Jon Patton, who kicked a team-high four goals.
“The Bulldogs did that, all the little things and we did 95 per cent of it and they were too good.
“I think it was a variety of things; missed tackles, coughing the ball up to them, not running two ways.
“They did all those things and that was the difference.”
Saturday’s loss closed the curtain on a momentous season for the Giants, who qualified for their maiden finals appearance and improved their best home and away win tally from 11 to 16 and finished a franchise-best fourth on the ladder.
It’s a measure of their rapid progress and high expectations, that despite those achievements they felt unfulfilled.
“It’s been an amazing season, to go from not playing finals at all and not even really being in contention to getting to a preliminary final,” Patton said.
“It’s a good effort, but we all had one goal and we didn’t get that.”