GWS has taken a massive step towards locking in an AFL finals berth with a 39-point win over Richmond that has all but killed off the Tigers’ top-eight hopes.
The loss of talisman Toby Greene to suspension mattered little to the Giants in a blistering display, with the likes of Josh Kelly, Jacob Hopper and Tim Taranto taking it upon themselves to lift their side.
Regular midfielder Taranto spent most of the night in Greene’s attacking role and kicked a career-best four goals as a slick and efficient GWS outfit proved far too strong in a 16.10 (106) to 10.7 (67) victory at Docklands on Friday night.
In doing so, they inflicted what could be the killer blow to Richmond’s premiership defence.
A win for West Coast this weekend would officially end the Tigers’ hopes of a third-straight flag before the last round of the home-and-away season — while an Essendon victory would not do Richmond any favours.
GWS vice-captain Greene’s one-match ban for striking meant Kelly — days after signing a massive new eight-year contract with the club — stood in as captain on return from a quad injury in the ongoing absence of regular skipper Stephen Coniglio.
Kelly led all comers with 12 disposals in the opening term as the Giants piled on seven goals and asserted their scoreboard dominance early.
GWS registered 10 scores from 16 forward entries on their way to their highest first-quarter score of the year — 7.3 (45) to 2.2 (14) — as they sliced their way through Richmond’s defence.
By half-time Taranto had kicked four goals and Harry Himmelberg three, while Hopper had tallied 18 disposals and six clearances as the margin blew out to 50 points.
Kelly (32 disposals and 11 tackles) and Hopper (26 disposals and nine clearances) were busy throughout the night and Nick Haynes continued his outstanding season with another composed performance as the leader of an inexperienced defence.
Richmond captain Trent Cotchin (31 disposals and eight clearances) and fellow midfielder Dion Prestia (22 and nine) battled hard in a losing side.
Tom Lynch, Liam Baker and Shai Bolton kicked two goals each for the Tigers, who kicked four goals to one in the final term to trim some fat off the margin.
GWS have their finals fate in their own hands as they prepare to face Carlton in round 23, while Richmond take on Hawthorn but need other results to fall their way to have any chance.