A strong Giants side beat the Crows on a scorching 36-degree day in Sydney, but the win was marred by a shocking hit on young star Jacob Wehr by Adelaide forward Shane McAdam.
It gave first-time coach Adam Kingsley the best possible start to life as a head coach, with a four-goal haul from captain Toby Greene helping the Giants beat the Crows, after giving them up to five goal head start, to secure a 15.16 (106) to 12.18 (90) victory at Giants Stadium on Sunday.
Greene was superb in his first game as stand-alone skipper, but the Giants had inspiration all over the field including Brent Daniels who kicked the sealer in his first game in 590 days.
The diminutive forward finished with two goals after being sidelined with a series of hamstring problems, as the Giants had to hang on late without support from their bench on an injury day.
Harry Perryman (hamstring), Lachie Whitfield and Josh Kelly (both concussion) were all forced off the field due to early rain in said carnage – but it was the hit on Wehr that had everyone talking.
Jacob Wehr was carried off the field by medical staff after the Giants youngster took a sickening high shot
Shane McAdam (right, pictured competing for the ball with Giants defender Isaac Cumming) faces a long time on the sideline for his hit
Wehr had to be checked for concussion after a sickening high hit by McAdam, which saw the Giants star appear to suffer horror whiplash during the brutal scenes.
‘He has ironed it! Wehr has gone down,’ Fox Footy commentator Anthony Hudson shouted when the hit happened on the broadcoast.
Lions legend Alastair Lynch, reporting from the sideline, was shocked by the impact.
‘That was a big hit. I’m 50 meters away and you hear the smack,’ he said.
Kangaroos great David King agreed, saying he believed McAdam should face a hefty ban for the hit.
Kysaiah Pickett also faces a major penalty after his offensive tackle on Bulldogs star Bailey Smith
‘That was a big hit. Set yourself, followed, launched,’ he said in the broadcast.
‘He is in a world of pain. Exactly what we’re trying to stamp out in the game.’
Kysaiah Pickett’s sickening late hit on Bailey Smith, labeled ‘one of the most dangerous things seen on a footy field in a while’, earned McAdam the ire of opponents, commentators and fans in surprise attack on the Wehr.
The fact that more than 100 former players are bringing a class action against the AFL over the severe effects of concussions on retirement only magnifies the seriousness of the situation.
‘This is terrible from Shane McAdam. The Tribunal will be big this week in sending a message about what the AFL will allow going forward. If the player comes back then it’s not the main, it’s the evil/intent of the hit,’ wrote a prominent member of the club on Twitter.
Many are calling for the return of a red card in games, especially with the way concussions are dealt with these days.
‘Does McAdam’s bump signal the need for a red/yellow card for the AFL? GWS lost a player like that and there was no comeback against Adelaide,’ one fan wrote.
‘We had a discussion on the Stewart incident last year, but it’s time for another discussion on red cards in footy after Pickett and McAdam’s hits this weekend,’ wrote another.
With the Giants losing two players to concussions and losing Wehr too easily, while McAdam stayed on the field, this was a very valid argument for many.
On a more positive note for the Giants, utility Harry Himmelberg clunked in a Mark of the Year contender, launching himself into the stratosphere behind big 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 collapsing on the turf.
‘What a leap from Harry Himmelberg!’ Towering heights, standing at attention and dragging down an impressive score,’ shouted the ever-animated Anthony Hudson on the Fox Footy broadcast.
‘Think Mark of the Year has been sewn up in the first round,’ one fan wrote on social media, with another saying ‘Harry Himmelberg’s mark is about as big…as any other MOTY in recent memory. False’.
Harry Himmelberg sits on the shoulders of giant 203cm Crows ruckman Reilly O’Brien to take a stunning score in the Giants’ win
Himmelberg’s big haul has already been mentioned 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 an excellent midfield display.
Prized Crows recruit Izak Rankine sparked early fire at his new club, but the Giants failed to pay on the scoreboard with 2.5 from 18 disposals – although Adelaide fans will no doubt be salivating over his potential.
Josh Rachele showed his class with three goals, while new Crows skipper Jordan Dawson had 23 polished possessions.
Former Crows captain Rory Sloane finished with 18 touches and played the match despite being involved in accidental head-on collisions that forced both 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 back from injury.
Darcy Fogarty kicked two goals but couldn’t get away 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 just two tackles in the opening term, but the Crows failed to make them pay 4.9 to 2.2 on the scoreboard.
The hosts finally stepped up as they kicked the first four goals of the third term to reduce the margin to less than a goal, then gradually wore down the Crows, albeit with some late-game reinforcements.
The Giants travel to Perth looking to go 2-0 up against West Coast on Sunday, while the Crows will be out to bounce back when they host Richmond on Saturday.