The Greater Western Sydney Giants have ruffled a few feathers after a bizarre break from tradition in Friday night's loss against the Western Bulldogs.
After a horror opening two rounds, the Dogs opened their 2020 account and gained revenge on rival GWS during a spiteful 24-point win at Marvel Stadium.
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However, it was an incident before the match begun that had fans talking, with both coaches even quizzed about it after the final siren.
Eyebrows were raised for the traditional pre-game coin toss when GWS failed to send out captain Stephen Coniglio to meet with Bulldogs counterpart Marcus Bontempelli.
It's customary for the opposing captains to square off before the match, so the sight of Nick Haynes taking the place of his GWS captain took many viewers by surprise.
GWS have targeted Bontempelli since an incident with Nick Haynes in round 22 last year, which left the Giants defender with a fractured larynx.
It's likely that incident was behind the Giants' unorthodox move to send Haynes out to the middle, with many seeing it as attempt at playing mind games.
"I wasn't sure if he (Haynes) had a milestone. If he didn't, it was strange," Beveridge said when asked about the coin toss.
Immature from the Giants. Firstly the Nick Haynes coin toss and that Stephen Coniglio 50m penalty #AFLDogsGiants— Mitch Cleary (@cleary_mitch) June 19, 2020
Grow up Mitch it’s theatre. A genuine rivalry that means something to both— Nick Turner (@nickturner_11) June 19, 2020
Nick Haynes coin toss was a bit of fun, while clearly pre-meditated. Sets up post game talkback! Lol.— Matt Thompson 🇦🇺 (@MattThompson) June 19, 2020
Sending Haynes to do the coin toss facing Bont is next level genius gamesmanship... #AFLDogsGiants— Pete Roberts (@PistolRoberts) June 19, 2020
If sending Haynes in for the coin toss was used as a mind game I absolutely love it by the Giants #AFLDogsGiants— Moppa (@Moppa12) June 19, 2020
Childish. Didn’t work.— Steve Mitchell (@stevereckons) June 19, 2020
Cogs sending Haynes to do the coin toss against Bont is world class. Outstanding.— John Dunlop (@JDSportsMgmt) June 19, 2020
Lmao. Nick Haynes is one of my absolute favourite players. He’s so good. But man. Taking the coin toss and doing some faux look once you “win” the toss and run back. Like. Chill man. You’re not 12.— hat tub (@hazzyhaz2) June 19, 2020
Giants sending Haynes to Bontempelli for the coin toss is brilliant gamesmanship #AFLDogsGiants— Mitchell Scott (@MitchellBScott) June 19, 2020
Giants coach brushes off coin toss incident
Despite the commentary about the incident during and after the game, Giants coach Leon Cameron said he "wouldn't look anything into it".
"I've got more problems than worrying about who tosses the coin than nutting down and making sure our contested ball is right," he said.
"Matty De Boer is an out and out run with player, that's what he does at the start of every game.
"It wouldn't matter whether it's Bontempelli, (Patrick) Dangerfield, or (Ben) Cunnington and (Shaun) Higgins; we use him in a run with role and we don't hide the fact that we do.
Cameron did admit though that the rivalry between the two sides is fierce, as evidenced by the sometimes spiteful nature of the contest.
"We've got a rivalry there (with the Dogs). The game was played at a high intensity and they won this battle tonight."
The result leaves both teams at 1-2 and outside the top-eight in the shortened 17-round season.
Coming into the Friday night Marvel Stadium clash on the back of two heavy defeats, the Bulldogs were never headed in the 8.9 (57) to 4.9 (33) triumph.
Even without injured key protagonist Toby Greene, the Giants came hard at the Dogs captain from the opening bounce in strangely familiar scenes.
Tagger Matt De Boer went straight to Bontempelli, reminding him of the punishment the Dogs endured last September in a humiliating 58-point defeat.
But Luke Beveridge's men handled the heat this time and restricted last year's beaten grand finalists to the equal-fifth lowest score in their history.
"The boys felt like they let him (Bontempelli) down last year and they wanted to make amends," Beveridge told reporters.
"He doesn't need to prove anything to us. But tonight will do him the world of good.
"He's built himself up, he's felt the pressure, but all the while, he's been vocal.
"He's been looking for answers and solutions and that's what great leaders do."