The Greater Western Sydney Giants have begun their 2018 season campaign in an impressive manner running out 82 point victors over the Western Bulldogs at Manuka Oval Canberra.
The loss was all the more bitter for the Bulldogs with key midfielder Tom Liberatore suffering a season ending, ruptured anterior cruciate ligament injury to his right knee. The Giants led for the majority of the game and were never troubled by a Bulldogs team that is a shell of its former self after their infamous premiership win of 2016. The Giants had their 7th consecutive victory at Manuka Oval which is proving to be a fortress. Up forward for the Giants Jeremy Cameron was outstanding kicking 6 goals and was ably assisted by Toby Greene who booted 4. The Bulldogs had little to cheer for their efforts. They were only able to post 7 goals for the match with tall man Jordan Roughead kicking 2.
With a new AFL season underway, many of the pundits are questioning the serious threat the Giants will be this year. With several player and assistant coach departures, there were some grounds to argue that the GWS may drop a level. However, any doubts about how well the Giants will perform were pushed aside. Stephen Coniglio, Dylan Shiel and Tim Taranto were simply awesome in the midfield for the GWS. They racked up a multitude of possessions. The Giants defense also were a part of the dominating display. Heath Shaw, Phil Davis and Lachie Whitfield ensured the Western Bulldogs would find it hard to score. With the Dogs kicking with a steady breeze, they were only able to boot 3 goals, with the Giants kicking 4.
The ruck duties for the Giants were carried out by Rory Lobb who did a serviceable job against Jordan Roughead, the Dogs having a very minor win on the hit outs count 46-43. The Bulldogs suffered a significant loss in the first quarter when Tom Liberatore suffered his season ending injury. As he was chasing a ball to the boundary on the members stand side of the ground, Liberatore’s right leg seemed to snap in a whip like motion. Clearly he was in awful pain and was escorted off the ground and into the race and did not play again. The ramifications for the Dogs are serious, as Liberatore was a key player in the 2016 flag and his tough, hard at the contest style will be missed. Tragically this is his second knee reconstruction, with his left knee being the last form of ACL damage. Strangely enough, the Dogs seemed to lift and were able to kick goals and show some resistance to the Giants, however that was short lived.
The game was literally sown up by the Giants in the second quarter. The GWS posted 7 goals for the term and never allowed the Western Bulldogs any room to get back into the game. The Dogs would only kick a further 3 for the game and it was a woeful effort. There were worrying signs for the 2016 premiers. They looked lack luster and gun defensive player Easton Wood looked out of place as a forward. He doesn’t seem to have the fierce passion that was a compelling characteristic during the 2016 season. His coach Luke Beveridge said post-game that his team had many new faces and that it would take time for the side to gel. New tall forward / ruckman Tim English showed some glimpses of promise for the Dogs with an ability to take a mark and finesse in the ruck.
Giants coach Leon Cameron was full of praise for his team’s game. He was especially pleased to notch a first round victory to begin the season on a positive note. He was pleased with Jeremy Finlayson who was playing his second game, whilst Zac Langdon in his debut game had some handy touches and booted a goal. It was a fine team effort by the Giants they played as a solid, fast paced unit. They moved the ball well and were clinical in their disposals. All the more pleasing with it being round one, where match fitness and ball skills are a little lacking. Next week the first placed Greater Western Sydney Giants travel away to play Collingwood (16th) at the MCG, whilst the bottom of the ladder Western Bulldogs play the West Coast Eagles (14th) at home at Docklands Stadium in Melbourne.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 4.2 11.4 17.4 20.12 (133)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 3.3 4.4 5.6 7.9 (51)
Greater Western Sydney: Cameron 6, Greene 4, Patton 2, Kelly 2, Coniglio 2, Himmelberg, Shiel, Langdon, Tomlinson
Western Bulldogs: Suckling, Gowers, Roughead, Dunkley, Johannisen, Dale, Honeychurch
Greater Western Sydney:Coniglio, Cameron, Whitfield,
Western Bulldogs: Hunter, Dahlhaus, Roughead
Greater Western Sydney: –
Western Bulldogs: Tom Liberatore (knee), Hayden Crozier (knee)
Umpires: Simon Meredith, David Harris, Andrew Mitchell
Official crowd: 8280 at Manuka Oval (UNSW Canberra Oval)