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Greater Western Sydney will be expected to respond to caretaker coach Mark McVeigh’s withering assessment of the side when the Giants face Essendon.

The Giants (5-14, 82.5%) were thumped by cross-town rivals Sydney Swans last week, with McVeigh calling out the majority of the squad for not performing.

Essendon (7-12, 89.8%) has put in some impressive performances in the second half of the season and will regain Andrew McGrath and Darcy Parish for the clash.

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First quarter

As confirmed on Friday, Giants gun Tim Taranto was a late out for Lachie Ash, while Tanner Bruhn (GWS) and Massimo D‘Ambrosio (Essendon) were named the medical subs.

Both clubs got involved in a pre-game scuffle including a heated exchange between Jake Stringer and Stephen Coniglio. Coniglio responded in the best way possible, kicking the opening goal as the Giants threw the first punch.

It led to both teams again fighting afterwards as Stringer, who was very much in the thick of it, gave away a free kick Harry Himmelberg for the Giants’ second goal in a fiery start.

“There’s definitely a bit of feeling as you can see,” Saints great Nick Dal Santo said on Fox Footy.

Western Bulldogs legend Brad Johnson said of the Bombers: “They need to settle themselves down, the leadership around Essendon need to stand up and calm the farm.”

The Bombers then settled into the game in a heavily-contested opening quarter, while Harry Perryman appeared to have a run-with role on Zach Merrett.

But the Giants continued to play with ferocity in a great response caretaker coach Mark McVeigh’s scathing criticism last week including a brilliant snap goal to Josh Kelly.

Essendon responded later in the term with back-to-back majors to pull it back to a five-point deficit.

The Giants had their chances late in the term to get further ahead on the scoreboard but failed to convert their opportunities.

McVeigh’s side took a two-point lead into the first break, 2.3 (23) to 3.3 (21).

Second quarter

Both teams continued to fight tooth and nail in the second quarter in an exciting battle.

James Peatling came from the ground in the hands of trainers after a huge collision with Mason Redman, with the Giants forward assessed for a concussion.

Peatling was subsequently subbed out of the game for Tanner Bruhn.

GWS kicked the first two goals of the term through Jesse Hogan and Toby Greene to go ahead by 15 points.

The home side got on top of the contest in the second quarter, while Bruhn had an immediate impact upon coming on with a goal to extend its lead.

Just at the Bomber did in the first term, they responded late with consecutive goals to gather some momentum approaching half-time.

GWS led by two points at the main break, 7.7 (49) to 7.5 (47).

Third quarter

Essendon got off to the perfect start in the second half with consecutive goals through Matt Guelfi and Ben Hobbs.

“He loves the big stage,” Fox Footy called Kelli Underwood said of Hobbs, while Dal Santo noted the rookie has “already become a rock solid half forward.”

Toby Greene gave away a costly 50m penalty midway through he quarter, but Darcy Parish couldn’t make them pay with the set shot.

It was an arm wrestle for most of the third term, but the Giants regained the lead after Jesse Hogan took a big contested mark inside 50 and booted his second goal of the day,

This match got underway at 2:10pm AEST from GIANTS Stadium.

Watch it live on Fox Footy (channel 503) from 2:10pm AEST.

Follow GWS v Essendon in our live blog below!

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