Shattered Giants captain Toby Greene says Friday night’s one-point preliminary final loss to Collingwood “really hurts” as the devastating nature of the defeat was laid bare in the rooms.
The Magpies withstood the full force of the Orange Tsunami to win a preliminary final classic by a solitary point and advance to the Grand Final in front of over 97,000 fans at the MCG.
As Pies players and fans erupted, heartbroken Giants players slumped to the ground as the reality sank in that their unlikely surge from seventh spot on the ladder had just ended.
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Fox Footy cameras captured a devastated Greene being consoled by family members in the rooms just minutes after the final siren.
“You want to know how hard it is to lose a prelim final (that way)? These are some shots from down in the GWS rooms and there’s a man who is as tough and as hard and as inspirational as any in the competition – and it just rips your soul out,” five-time All-Australian Garry Lyon told Fox Footy.
“I’ve not won one (a premiership), but that makes winning one so great, because the devastation of not getting there from a prelim, let alone losing a Grand Final … it gives you an insight into how invested these boys are.”
Triple premiership Lion Jonathan Brown added: “I think the GWS players genuinely believe they were on a fairytale run. They had the momentum and belief with good reason – and when you have that belief, it’s so powerful. When you don’t take that opportunity, it is all the more devastating.”
Greene then composed himself to address the media, but his disappointment was still blatant.
“It’s hard to reflect on the season when you get that close. That one hurts. That one really hurts,” Greene told Channel 7.
“It’s a tough changeroom at the moment, but we’ll come together. We’ll come back stronger. You put yourself out there, you get that close, that’s what happens.
“It could have gone either way!” | 06:08
“It was an awesome year, but once you get this close you want to go on and win it. We felt like we were good enough too, but hats off to Collingwood they were tough tonight.
“Flip of a coin, really, in the end and it just hurts.”
Giants coach Adam Kingsley said it was the most devastating loss he’d been part of.
“I’m certainly very proud of the group and their development and the way they fight and hang in every game and play to the last minute. They’re a really special group and we need to make sure we maintain that level and improvement,” he told reporters.
“When it’s a one-point game, it could’ve gone either way … I’m sure our boys will replay all their moments in their heads for a long, long period of time. But that’s the nature of prelim finals, that’s the nature of losing by a point.”
The Magpies only managed one final quarter goal but took seven intercept marks to preserve their razor-thin lead in yet another close-game masterclass under coach Craig McRae.
McRae blown away by courageous showing | 08:41
However the Pies were empathetic towards the Giants post-game, for 12 months earlier their Grand Final dream ended after a one-point loss to Sydney at the SCG.
“GWS were amazing,” McRae told reporters. “‘Kingers’ has done an incredible job in such a short period of time.
“We sat there last year with that one-point loss – and it’s a pretty similar story, really. Their second half of the year was outstanding.
“As much as you don’t get to go to the next week, he should be really proud of what he’s done.”
Pies star Nick Daicos added on Fox Footy: “I saw the Giants boys after the siren and as much as we’re so stoked to go through, we went through that last year, so I can relate to them.”
Epic final scenes as Pies land GF spot | 00:48
Lyon suggested a crucial period in the fourth term ultimately cost the Giants a Grand Final berth.
“Seven intercept marks to one in the last quarter is what they’ll look back on and rue,” he said. “They just lost their structure there for about 10 minutes and they couldn’t get through.”
But four-time premiership Hawk Jordan Lewis added: “We talk about what they could’ve possibly done … but the Giants will lose no admirers tonight. They were huge.”
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