JEREMY Cameron has all-but sewn up his first Coleman Medal with a scintillating career best haul of nine goals against Gold Coast on Saturday night.
Greater Western Sydney wrapped up sixth place and a home elimination final with a routine 20.7 (127) to 7.13 (55) victory, but all eyes were on Cameron in his 150th game.
After Ben Brown kicked two goals in North Melbourne’s win over Melbourne earlier in the day, Cameron headed to Metricon Stadium needing six goals to share the medal.
The Giants celebrate Jeremy Cameron kicking the goal that gave him the Coleman Medal lead. Picture: AFL Photos
Perhaps the GWS cheer squad could see into the future, with the banner to mark his milestone game reading in part “Jezza’s set to explode on a goalkicking rampage”.
How prophetic that was.
After two goals in the first quarter and none in the second, Cameron set a dreary Gold Coast night alight in the third.
He kicked five goals – including three in three minutes – and hit the Coleman lead right on the stroke of three-quarter time with a safe set shot from close range.
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His season tally of 67 goals is a career best and barring the miracle of either Tom Lynch kicking 14 goals or Charlie Cameron 15 at the MCG on Sunday, he will finish with the goalkicking award.
Cameron described his big night as “surreal” and was more interested in heaping praise on his “selfless” teammates.
“It’s hard to think about as a player because it’s an individual award,” he said.
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“I came out after half-time and the boys got their hands on it up the ground and got the ball coming in fairly quick.
“To get on the end of a few was good.
“(I’m) Obviously very happy.
“I’ve never played with a group of players that are so selfless and they’ve showed it all year.”
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The Giants gained a semblance of confidence after a fortnight they’d rather forget, swatting aside the Suns after the home team got within 10 points early in the third quarter.
Tim Taranto (31 disposals), Lachie Whitfield (27) and Josh Kelly (27) all got plenty of the ball, while Daniel Lloyd (three goals) and Ian Hill (two) were nice forward line foils for Cameron.
GWS will host either Essendon or the Western Bulldogs in the first weeks of finals.
The loss was Gold Coast’s 18th straight to finish a three-win, wooden spoon season.
It also represented the 243rd and final time veteran Sun Michael Rischitelli would play on an AFL field.
Following 111 games in seven seasons for Brisbane, the hard-as-nails midfielder headed 70km south on the Pacific Motorway at the end of 2010 to the start-up Suns to complete a career he can be proud of.
No more could be asked of Rischitelli, the heart and soul of the club for many of his nine years.
The Giants threatened to completely run away with the game in the first term, just as much from Gold Coast’s wasteful play as their own good work.
When the Suns turned the ball over, they pounced, kicking five goals straight to lead by 26 points.
But just as its season appeared to be drifting to a predictable conclusion, Gold Coast showed some fight.
It dominated inside 50s by 22-13 in the second quarter, but alas, missed a plethora of chances around goal to shave the deficit by just four points to 22 leading into the half-time break.
Alex Sexton kicked two goals – but missed two others – while Darcy Macpherson also missed a brace he’d like to have again.
Gold Coast: In a rare instance, the Suns appeared to come away from this one unscathed.
Greater Western Sydney: There was one major scare for the Giants when Harry Himmelberg left the field midway through the third quarter holding his ribs. The forward went to the dressing-rooms and returned a few minutes later to play out the game.
It’s all over for the Suns, but GWS have at least one more match. The Giants will host either Essendon or the Western Bulldogs at Giants Stadium in an elimination final in two weeks.
GOLD COAST 0.4 3.10 5.12 7.13 (55)
GWS GIANTS 5.0 8.2 16.5 20.7 (127)
Gold Coast: King 3, Sexton 2, Bowes, Young
GWS Giants: Cameron 9, Lloyd 3, Hill 2, Kelly 2, Taranto, Whitfield, Finlayson, Kennedy
Gold Coast: Witts, Ainsworth, Weller, Bowes, Hanley, Fiorini
GWS Giants: Cameron, Taranto, Kelly, Whitfield, Cumming, Shaw
Gold Coast: Nil
GWS Giants: Nil
Umpires: Haussen, Harris, Mollison
Official crowd: 7610 at Metricon Stadium