A young GIANTS side has gone down to a strong Western Bulldogs outfit by 31-points as both sides opened their pre-season campaigns at Manuka Oval in Canberra.
Midfielder Koby Stevens was prolific for the Bulldogs, while Jake Stringer was the best forward on the ground but inaccurate with 3.4 in the 1.13.17 (104) to 0.11.7 (73) victory.
The GIANTS kicked the first two goals of the game against the run of play, with the Dogs kicking six behinds before registering their first major.
The Dogs led by 19 points at the main change and went on with it thereafter, with Tom Campbell kicking the game's only supergoal early in the final term to effectively seal the result.
There were some promising signs from the young GIANTS, who were without the likes of co-captains Phil Davis and Callan Ward along with Shane Mumford, Heath Shaw, Ryan Griffen, Steve Johnson, Dylan Shiel and Jeremy Cameron.
GWS coach Leon Cameron said he side struggled to cope with the fast-starting Bulldogs.
"You wait three months to play and I think a few of our young lads were just shell-shocked," Cameron said.
"They probably didn't do the things that I know they can do and they (the Bulldogs) got their confidence up.
"They're a good side, a finals side from last year. and we need to get to that level.
"Probably for two and a half quarters we were, but for a quarter and a bit we weren't."
Young 206cm ruckman Rory Lobb was a big target up forward, booting two goals and taking a handful of strong grabs while experienced forward Rhys Palmer led the way in disposals.
Stand-in skipper Stephen Coniglio was tireless through the middle, booting two goals of his own, while Josh Kelly and Nathan Wilson provided plenty of run off half-back.
James Stewart chimed in with two late goals while Will Hoskin-Elliott made the most of his opportunities to get on the end of two majors as well.
The GIANTS take on the Swans at Drummoyne Oval next Friday, March 4 in their second NAB Challenge game.
WHAT WE LEARNED
Greater Western Sydney: The GIANTS have improved their stoppage work, and even without number one ruckman Shane Mumford and hard nut Callan Ward, held their own against a star-studded Bulldogs' midfield. The clearances and stoppages were dead even for the match, so credit must go to Dawson Simpson and the GWS onball division who battled manfully against the odds.
Greater Western Sydney: Academy draftees Jacob Hopper and Matthew Kennedy struggled to make a massive impact, but Hopper's clearance work from centre bounces was solid. Small forward Jarrod Pickett showed he's got some tricks, while Jeremy Finlayson did some nice things in defence. Simpson made a good contest in the ruck against Will Minson and Tom Campbell and should be better for the run, as should young utility Pat McKenna, who battled to find the footy.
More to come.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 0.2.0 0.3.3 0.5.4 0.11.7 (73)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.2.7 0.5.10 0.8.14 1.13.17 (104)
Greater Western Sydney: Nil
Western Bulldogs: Campbell
Greater Western Sydney: Lobb 2, Hoskin-Elliott 2, Coniglio 2, Stewart 2, Tomlinson, Scully, Hopper
Western Bulldogs: Stringer 3, Campbell 2, Macrae, Daniel, Wallis, Picken, Stevens, Roughead, Hrovat, Suckling
Official crowd: 5,636 at Manuka Oval, Canberra