A gutsy Giants side beat the Crows on a scorching 36-degree day in Sydney, but the win was marred by a shocking hit to young star Jacob Wehr by Adelaide forward Shane McAdam.
It gave first-time mentor Adam Kingsley the best possible start to life as a head coach, with a four-goal haul from captain Toby Greene helping the Giants overrun the Crows, after giving them as much as a five-goal head start, to secure a 15.16 (106) to 12.18 (90) triumph at Giants Stadium on Sunday.
Greene was superb in his first game as stand-alone skipper, but the Giants had inspirational efforts across the field including Brent Daniels kicking the sealer in his first game for 590 days.
The small forward finished with two goals after being sidelined by a series of hamstring issues, while the Giants had to hang on late with next to no support available from their bench on a day of injury carnage.
Harry Perryman (hamstring), Lachie Whitfield and Josh Kelly (both concussion) were both forced from the field for early showers in said carnage – but it was the hit on Wehr that everybody was talking about.
Jacob Wehr is escorted off the field by medical staff after the Giants youngster suffered a sickening high shot
Shane McAdam (right, pictured competing for the ball with Giants defender Isaac Cumming) is facing a lengthy stint on the sidelines for his hit
Wehr had to be assessed for concussion after a sickening high hit by McAdam, which saw the Giants star appear to suffer horror whiplash in brutal scenes.
‘He’s ironed him out! Wehr has gone down,’ Fox Footy commentator Anthony Hudson cried out as the hit happened on the broadcoast.
Lions legend Alastair Lynch, who was reporting from the boundary, was shocked at the impact.
‘That was a huge hit. I’m 50 metres away and you could hear the smack,’ he said.
Kangaroos great David King concurred, saying he believed McAdam should face a huge ban for the hit.
Kysaiah Pickett is also facing a big punishment after this sickening shot on Bulldogs star Bailey Smith
‘That’s a big hit. Set himself, followed through, launched,’ he said on the broadcast.
‘He’s in a world of pain. Exactly what we’re trying to stamp out of the game.’
In the wake of Kysaiah Pickett’s sickening late hit on Bailey Smith, labelled ‘one of the most dangerous things seen on a footy field in awhile’, McAdam earned the ire of opponents, commentators and fans with the shocking bump on Wehr.
The fact over 100 ex-players are bringing a class action against the AFL in regards to the severe effects of concussion in retirement only magnifies the seriousness of the situation.
‘This is horrid from Shane McAdam. Tribunal is going to be huge this week in sending a message about what the AFL will tolerate moving forward. If the player comes back on afterwards is not primary, it’s the viciousness/intent of the hit that is,’ wrote one prominent club member on Twitter.
Many were calling for the return of a red card in games, especially given the way concussions are dealt with these days.
‘Does the bump by McAdam demonstrate the need for a red/yellow card for AFL? GWS lose a player like that and there is no comeback against Adelaide,’ one fan wrote.
‘We had the discussion with the Stewart incident last year, but time for another discussion on red cards in footy after Pickett and McAdam’s hits this weekend,’ wrote another.
Given the Giants lost two players to concussion and could very easily have lost Wehr as well, while McAdam remained on the field, it’s a very valid argument for many.
On a more positive note for the Giants, utility Harry Himmelberg clunked a Mark of the Year contender, launching himself into the stratosphere on the back of huge Crows ruckman, Reilly O’Brien.
Despite a quiet start, Himmelberg stamped his name on the game at the end of the first quarter, launching over the 202cm O’Brien, briefly sitting on the ruckman’s shoulders to take an incredible grab before crashing into the turf.
‘Massive leap from Harry Himmelberg!’ Exaltted heights, stands to attention and drags down a magnificent mark,’ cried the ever-animated Anthony Hudson on the Fox Footy broadcast.
‘Think Mark of the Year has been sewn up in the first round,’ wrote one fan on social media, with another saying ‘That Harry Himmelberg mark is every bit as big…as any other MOTY in recent memory. Unreal’.
Harry Himmelberg sits on the shoulders of giant 203cm Crows ruckman Reilly O’Brien to take a stunning mark in the Giants win
Himmelberg’s huge grab has already been touted as a Mark of the Year contender
Emerging onballer Tom Green (37 disposals) was also prominent throughout, and former skippers Stephen Coniglio (32) and Callan Ward (31) helped lead the Giants’ second half revival in a sterling midfield display.
The Crows’ prized recruit Izak Rankine sparked his new club early, but failed to make the Giants pay on the scoreboard with 2.5 from 18 disposals – though Adelaide fans will no doubt be salivating at his potential.
Josh Rachele showed his class with three goals, while the Crows’ new skipper Jordan Dawson had 23 polished possessions.
Former Crows captain Rory Sloane finished with 18 touches and played out the match despite being involved in accidental head clashes that forced a couple of Giants out of the contest.
Brent Daniels (left) gets a hug from teammate Jack Buckley after kicking the matchwinner in his first game in 590 games after injury troubles
Darcy Fogarty kicked two goals but could not make the distance from just outside 50m as the Crows made one last charge before Daniels kicked the final major of the match in a fairytale finish.
The Giants were surprisingly insipid early in Kingsley’s first game in charge as they laid only two tackles in the opening term, but the Crows failed to make them pay with 4.9 to 2.2 on the scoreboard.
The hosts finally lifted when kicking the first four goals of the third term to reduce the margin to less than a goal, then gradually wore down the Crows, even with few reinforcements late in the game.
The Giants travel to Perth seeking to go 2-0 against West Coast on Sunday, while the Crows will be out to bounce back when they host Richmond on Saturday.