Hogan, fellow GWS finals debutants excel

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They came to see Lance Franklin kick eight goals but a ragtag bunch of GWS players in their first AFL final stole the show in Launceston.

Franklin's 1000-goal quest will continue into his 18th season after the four-time Coleman medallist booted three goals in Saturday's pulsating duel with Sam Taylor.

Toby Greene starred in the opening half, while Nick Haynes and Harry Perryman came up with some goal-saving defensive efforts as GWS held on for a one-point win in the elimination final.

But the Giants, who extended their record in derby finals to 3-0, also relied heavily on their rawest players in a sign of how much their list has transformed since losing the 2019 grand final.

Inexperienced sextet Zach Sproule, Jake Stein, Isaac Cumming, Connor Idun, Lachie Ash and Tom Green started their first final with a combined 130 games of experience.

Substitute Tanner Bruhn, who entered the fray after Cumming's ankle injury in the third quarter, extended a memorable first season.

GWS spearhead Jesse Hogan, who could have slipped into retirement if not for landing at his third club after the 2020 season, was also on finals debut.

Hogan's dominant second term reflected the fashion in which his side seized control, a settling after-the-siren goal gave GWS a 19-point buffer at three-quarter time, and he finished with a career-best six contested marks.

"Not many players take six contested marks in a game," GWS coach Leon Cameron said.

"He was a big, towering figure throughout the game."

The league's 18th club has battled perceptions of being gift-wrapped success since its inception, with pundits pointing to draft concessions.

But taking a punt on Hogan is one of many list-management examples that suggest there is more to it than that.

Academy product Sproule was delisted last year, rejoined GWS via the rookie draft and kicked two goals on Saturday.

Stein, like Sproule playing just his 10th game, was also among his side's best in the high-stakes match.

"He had some great moments ... they all played their role," Cameron said.

Stein, selected ahead of former captain Phil Davis, competed at the 2014 Commonwealth Games as a decathlete who knew little about AFL prior to being introduced to some GWS players by running coach John Quinn.

Stein was a vital part of the Giants' on-song defence, while he nailed a tackle on Franklin to win an early holding-the-ball free kick.

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