Sam Taylor knocked out in ugly head clash as GWS survive Saints surge to stay atop AFL ladder

Alex Mitchell
AAP
2 Min Read
Sam Taylor being treated after he was knocked out.
Sam Taylor being treated after he was knocked out. Credit: Morgan Hancock/Getty Images

GWS have continued their perfect start to the AFL season, holding off a fast-finishing St Kilda to pinch a nail-biting one-point win at Manuka Oval.

Four consecutive second-half goals on Saturday saw the Giants break away from the Saints and position themselves for their fifth straight win that sees them continue to top the ladder.

But they received an almighty late scare, the away side surging with the final six goals of the match to almost turn around a 35-point deficit and trail by a solitary point with 40 seconds left.

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The Saints even worked the centre clearance, before a courageous mark from James Peatling saw the Giants cling on.

The late run produced a scoreboard that probably flattered St Kilda, well beaten before their late surge gave them a puncher’s chance.

Forwards Toby Green and Jesse Hogan found two goals each for GWS, with the latter’s set shot seconds before three-quarter time putting them into what seemed a match-winning 29-point lead.

Four Saints kicked two majors including goalsneak Anthony Caminiti, whose two goals both came deep in fourth-quarter red time as his side bolted home.

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 13: Sam Taylor of the Giants is treated by medical staff before leaving the field during the round five AFL match between Greater Western Sydney Giants and St Kilda Saints at Manuka Oval, on April 13, 2024, in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/AFL Photos/Getty Images)
Sam Taylor had to be taken off the field in a medical buggy. Credit: Mark Metcalfe/AFL Photos/Getty Images

Injury carnage marred the Giants’ win, with star midfielder Stephen Coniglio and key defender Sam Taylor both taken from the field.

Taylor was knocked out after a head clash with Saint Jack Steele in a marking contest in the first term, stretchered off after appearing to be unconscious before his head slammed into the turf.

Coniglio was cleared of a serious knee injury after going through ACL tests, but didn’t return to the game.

It soured an afternoon where Canberrans Tom Green and Steele locked horns in an engaging head-to-head battle on home turf, with the GWS star perhaps edging the contest of inside midfielders.

Green, who slotted a brilliant snapped goal on the run early to stamp his authority on the game, finished with 24 touches and five clearances, with teammate Lachie Whitfield racking up a game-high 34 disposals.

Steele returned fire with his own goal in the third term to spark a mini-fightback before the Giants took over.

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 13:  Saints players look dejected after the round five AFL match between Greater Western Sydney Giants and St Kilda Saints at Manuka Oval, on April 13, 2024, in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/AFL Photos/Getty Images)
Saints players look dejected after the loss. Credit: Matt King/AFL Photos/Getty Images

St Kilda forward Mitchito Owens had an eventful second term, kicking two goals before spraying an easy chance way wide as his side looked to cut their deficit.

He also took a mark of the year contender over Aaron Cadman, but chipped his subsequent kick straight to GWS’ Jesse Hogan for an easy goal in a huge swing.

Saint Bradley Hill was in dynamic touch and finished with 33 disposals and a goal, while ruck Rowan Marshall put in a monstrous game that included 16 clearances and 10 inside 50s.

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