The Giants’ Jeremy Finlayson can ‘remember it all’.
With 2:43 left on the clock, the GWS Giants were three points down in the 2019 semi-final against Brisbane up at the GABBA.
The Lions’ Alex Witherden and the Giants’ Brent Daniels battle it out for the ball, Daniels winning and with once bounce, he kicks a goal off his right foot, putting the Giants in front by three points with now 2:35 left.
In football, anything can happen in 2:35, Finlayson said that even when Daniels put the side in the lead, it didn’t feel certain that they had won the semi-final.
He couldn’t think and he couldn’t hear anything as the 30,034 supporters at the GABBA mostly cheered on their home side.
“It was like oh my god, he’s kicked a goal, but you never know how long left. To be honest, I couldn’t even hear myself think that’s how loud the crowd was,” Finlayson told The Inner Sanctum.
“I just looked around the ground and just said ‘wow, this crowd is so loud, my head is about to explode it’s that loud’.
“When Brent Daniels kicked that goal, we had a bit of a sense of feeling that we’ve won the game, but you really never know in finals, especially with the new rules then. You just never really know.”
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The Giants had just the week earlier bet the Western Bulldogs despite all odds against them on its home turf at GIANTS Stadium, winning the Elimination Final 113-55.
“We weren’t expected to win one game in the final series, and to get the win against the Brisbane Lions in that semi-final was something I’ll look back on,” Finlayson said.
Finlayson acknowledged that finals games are a different style of football. With a little bit of belief, and mentoring from leaders, Leon Cameron, Phill Davis and Callan Ward – despite the co-captain sitting out most of 2019 with an ACL injury, anything of possible.
“Finals are a whole different game. We knew that no one was going to win it off their on boot. That was one of the key themes before the Western Bulldogs game and before the Brisbane Lions,” he said.
“We knew deep down that we were going to have to give it a fair crack and just had to play to what we knew.
“We just stuck to our process. Leon, Phil and Wardy just said don’t go away from what we know. There were leaders in every line, like Jeremy Cameron in the forward and obviously Phil down back.
“We had leaders that were keeping us calm and played moment by moment and when Brent picked up the ball, we just really backed him.”
As Finlayson touched on, the Giants knew that the win against the Lions wasn’t going to come from just one player alone. It required the team effort.
On the day, the Giants had eight goal scorers, Finlayson being one of those contributing two majors on the scoreboard.
“Finals footy is always no one’s going to win the game by themselves, you got to play that full team brand that you need to get into finals,” he said.
“If you put a side out with 22 against 22, the team mentality will come over on the winning side then own individual performances, and we knew that going into Brisbane and into the finals games.”
The semi-final was dubbed at one of the games of the year, and one of the best finals games in recent years.
The biggest lead was held by the Giants in the first 10 minutes of the match. The Giants had kicked away with four goals, before the Lions’ Jarrod Berry began the early fight back kicking the Lions’ first.
“It was a brutal match, and for most of it, it was goal for goal. I really don’t know how we got back in front when the crows was completely behind the Lions,” Finlayson said.
“It showed true character to some of the younger boys especially coming through then.”
Another special moment came out of the game for Finlayson. A kiss shared with Darcy Gardiner in the first term which was captured by AFL photographer Michael Wilson.
It definitely wasn’t a moment that was full of love and laughter. Gardiner and Finlayson were involved in a heated jumper pulling, push and shove following a goal kicked by Toby Greene.
As tensions flared, the two locked lips.
“I ended up getting, I think it was a free kick in the pocket, and I got to do a left-foot-snap. He grabbed me, we had a little bit of a head clash and then a little kiss,” Finlayson said.
“I just said to him thanks for giving me another free kick.”
The two haven’t spoken since the photo was taken.
“Unfortunately, he isn’t playing this weekend otherwise I would have said to him ‘let’s have another kiss’.”
The Giants will play Brisbane at the GABBA this afternoon at 2.10pm.
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